Let’s Discuss: Body After Baby, Mommy Tummy & More

This topic has been on my mind since.. well, a long time.

I’ve always been one of those people that tries to live in happy denial: stretchmarks? I won’t get them. Smaller saggy breasts? Won’t happen to me! And yet, of course it did. All of it.

The stretchmarks, thankfully, have faded to be silvery and pretty much invisible on my translucent/white skin. But the tummy/breast situation is really disconcerting.

First of all, I’ve never been particularly busty, in fact, quite the opposite. Which means that the time that I was breastfeeding Jasper was the first time in my life that I actually got to experience what it was like to have normal sized breasts. And I LIKED it. Not even in a “these make me look sexy” sort of way, but in an “I’m finally proportional and clothes fit me right” sort of way.

Which makes it even MORE cruel that after finally, for once in my life being happy with that part of my body that not only do they, um, deflate, but that they look worse now than they did before!

Even THAT wouldn’t be so bad if my stomach was flat like it used to be, but pregnancy put SUCH a strain/stretch on my transverse abdominals that if I’m not consciously correcting/flexing those transverse abdominals my stomach will stick out farther than my breasts!

I don’t think I’m talking about the “need to do more situps” abs, this is something that needs to be corrected with specialized exercises, ones that I’ve been putting off researching/doing because frankly, who has the time?

I find myself covertly sizing up other mommy’s tummies at the town pool, wondering how the ones that look like they never carried a baby recovered like they did.. were they just younger? better genetics? carried differently? Or did they WORK at getting those core muscles back in shape?

I still remember exactly what it felt like standing up for the first time after giving birth: like someone in a cartoon had blown a canon through my middle and if I turned to the front you’d see a giant hole! I felt like I had rubber in between my shoulders and my knees, like a giant gumby. No core muscles at all!

Sometimes I wonder if the damage that was done to my body is more than just normal postpartum wear and tear and if I should get the muscle weaknesses evaluated.. but I’m not even sure what type of dr. to go to for that (OB?, Physical therapist?)

So talk to me about how you all feel about your postpartum body and what, if anything, you’ve done to change it?

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Sasha Nichols says:

Oh I think you are great for writing your blog! I am the same way!!!!! I went with my oldest daughter who is 7 to try on some body shapers to try and flatten my abdomen! My daughter was giggling at me and said that she thinks that there is another baby in there! I stopped breastfeeding my son a few weeks ago, right before his 1st bday, and my D sized boobs have shrunk and they are smaller then my stomach! I am so self conscious about it. I try to remember to suck in my stomach!!! There are moments when I look almost 6 months pregnant! Did you ever do the exercises that you were researching? If you did and they worked, please let me know! I have read what people have written about bad tummy tuck experiences and it makes me too scared to get it done!

Joanna says:

My stomach seemed to tone up for the most part and while it wasn’t what it was before, I really couldn’t complain but now I am pregnant again and can only imagine what the second time around will do to my belly in the long term. I didn’t do anything to tone it up but I lost a ton of weight breastfeeding so it was flat (though NOT toned) prior to getting pregnant again.
As far as the breasts, to be honest I had implants when I was much younger so while they are a bit saggy now it isn’t bad, I can only imagine what they would like like if they were real. They don’t look awesome though, that’s for sure. They probably never will again. :)

Eva says:

So here’s my story… I weighed 210 when I got pregnant. 250 right before I delivered, and 235 a few weeks later. It’s been a very long time since I was skinny. Years and years. So breastfeeding helped me get back down to about 205 and then I stayed there for awhile. When my daughter was about a year old I decided that I was done being overweight, so I started dieting and exercising. Now I’m at 165 and even though I have saggy boobs I feel like I’ve never looked better. Do I look like I did when I was 18? Not even a little bit. But I really love my body.

Fiona says:

I love that poem! I will copy it, print it, and hang it in my bedroom. :)

I’m dealing with the after effects of having 2 babies, but made the choice soon after giving birth to my son that impants, a lift and a tummy tuck would be in my future. I develpoed pre-eclampsia with my son and gained close to 40 pounds of water weight in the final 2 months of my pregnancy pushing my weight from 140 to almost 210 pounds when I went into labor. The effects on my skin were HORRIBLE. I was 22 years old and a previous competitive volleyball player, and now have stretch marks from my upper arms all the way to my calfs. A few on my things actualy split right before he was born, so they are more scar looking than stretch mark looking. They have mostly faded and I’ve adjusted to them, but I hate how self-conscious of them I am now. I’m 28 now, have since had another baby 18 months ago (delivered by C section, another scar to my tummy) whom I breastfed for 10 months, starting out a C cup, heading up to a DD while breastfeeding and them back down to a smallish C. I started a mommy makeover account a few years back and can’t wait to get surgery. It’s not a main priority, but I’m hoping to have enough cash saved to give that to myself as a 30th birthday present.

I embrace the enormity of the task it was to carry 2 babies to term and deliver and I appreciate my body for accomplishing the task, but I refuse to be self-conscious and limit myself at such a young age. I’m not getting surgery to look like a barbie doll, just to put everything back where it belongs :)

ariana says:

Joelle, what beautiful words. I actually teared up reading it!

Thanks for posting, it’s a nice little reminder we all need once in a while :)

Joelle says:

So, I have the same body issues that most of you have mentioned. I loved my breasts prior to breastfeeding and tummy prior to giving birth. I haven’t worked really hard getting back into shape, actually breastfeeding helped me lose all the baby weight + 15 pounds…

But, when I get down on myself, I look at my daughter and remember that it is all worth it. I love that my body grew her, gave her life and the body that is left over is what I have to show for it :) There is also a poem from Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Victoria says:

OMG, you read my mind! After giving birth to 3 children {5 & younger} and breastfeeding all of them over a year each, I got gotten pretty used to my busty size. Now all I’ve been left with are saggy left-overs! I, too, find myself comparing my post-partum body to other post-partum bodies and it is quite disheartening. I, fortunately did not get any stretch marks from any of them and my tummy isn’t taught and tight but I’m not completely unhappy with it. So I guess I should thank my lucky stars! I think it’s about time though I whip out my Slim in Six & Core Results videos as these are what got me back into shape after the first two babes. If you haven’t tried Slim in Six…the buns exercises will well, kick your buns and the Core Results are awesome for toning. That’s my two cents ;) I always look forward to your posts in my inbox!

ariana says:

Well my conclusion after reading the comments is that mommy tummy & stretchmarks are up to the genetic lottery and that saggy boobs are universal ;)

Thank you all for being so open and sharing your thoughts on something so personal!

If nothing else, at least we know we aren’t alone..

Orly says:

I gained about 38 or so pounds during pregnancy, I’m barely 5 foot tall and I looked HUGE! I loved having that big round belly though. I found my pregnant form very liberating, I didn’t have to worry about the conventions of what was sexy! I think during that time I actually felt more sexy, confidant and beautiful than any other time in my life.
I’ve always been sort of normal weight. Never was much into exercise or obsessed with watching what I ate. My baby girl is now 9.5 months old and as the American Board of Pediatrics recommend I plan on continuing to breast feed her for at least one year. While nursing your supposed to eat about 500 or so more calories a day in order to keep up healthy milk supply. My doctor said don’t even think about stressing about your body until your completely done with nursing. I don’t have a scale but know I’m certainly over weight for my hight but as the doctor said, I’m gonna try not to worry about it for now.
I thankfully don’t have stretch marks (that is genetic) but for those of you that have, you know they always fade after a while. I was always fine with my breast size and of course am bigger now since I’m nursing . Who knows what will happen afterwards – we’ll see. I am bigger everywhere in general though – my face, my arms,thighs, hips & waist line – sort of all around rounder. Non-the-less my husband thinks I’m still hot! He even says he loves my c section scar, which is wonderful to hear!
Look the bottom line is, check out all the men out there that have no pregnancy excuse and look so tubby! Those guys don’t have any insecurities or body image issues!
I wish we women could get beyond picking our selves apart and constantly comparing ourselves to fake celebrity body types. Even if you’re not comparing yourself to anyone other then your former physical self …. things change! People age and it’s natural and okay. Your body went through a lot to create another human being, of course it’s not going to look the same!

When I notice women that have had children and look super thin, I just see that they have a totally different body type and naturally hold weight differently then I do. Or they just don’t eat and I love food more than worrying about my extra curves. Gals, please teach your children not to focus so much on body image!

Brandy says:

I just called my mom and thanked her for the genes. I just had my second baby 2 months ago and my weight is back to normal, things are still a bit “off”, but nothing a bit of work wont fix. If i can ever find the time. My boobs, did deflate and I’m sure will be soggy pancakes after nursing this babe.
After my first was born I worked out to Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred, the 20 min works out were fab. Then I moved to P90X, seriously amazing, I was never more proud of my body. I am hoping I will be able to fid the time to do at least a small workout this time.
I believe all it takes is work on the tummy part (alot of work). If you come up with a fix for the saggy boobs, please share!

Aimee says:

I have had 2 c-sections, gained 27-32 pounds with each pregnancy, but i only had babies that were very tiny (5#4oz and 4#13oz). Even though I have had the c-sections I still have the same stomach muscles as I did before pregnancy. There is a little bit of extra “back fat” in the love handle area that was not there before but for the most part I am back to normal. I attribute this to being physically fit before getting pregnant. I was a gymnast and a diver for many years and I was doing intense cardio kickboxing and CORE training before getting pregnant. I think this has everything to do with why i don’t look like I had any any children or 2 c-sections. The lack of stretch marks are genetic (Thank you mom!). However my deflated boobs are at a sad state. It depressing. Getting to have normal boobs for once (twice) was great and so when they do go away it is so sad. :-(

Fiona says:

Hmmm….glad you posted about this. It’s on my mind.

I gave birth to a 8lb 13oz baby girl 8.5 months ago. I have breastfed exclusively for 6 months and now still breastfeed at least 6 times a day even though she is on solids!!

I am (and was before my pregnancy) 119lb and quite small too (where did that big baby come from?)..but my tummy fat seems really soft and unsupported because of looser skin. I haven’t even tried to exercise. I think breastfeeding and living on a 3rd floor without a lift is quite enough for now!!!

My stretch marks have also become a silvery colour, but in some lights they still look a little angry. I am sad about my stretch marks. Although they are a sign of life and my daughter they are scars I will have for the rest of my life and I’d prefer not to have them (obviously!!). My stretch marks are worse at one side due to the way she was laid. Typical…they’re not even symmetrical.

As for boobies….I’m the same. DELIGHTED at my breastfeeding pair (flat A’s before….not exactly upward pointing either), DREADING the day I stop and look at my flatties.

Sometimes when I look in the mirror I am quite proud that I look good in, for example my new tankini (it pulls me in and hides my stretch marks) but have mixed emotions when I see myself naked. (Thankfully I have just moved house and we are without full length mirrors….godsend!)

What I want to ask everyone is – do you reckon men even notice? care? does it make a difference to them at all or is it just us females who are hung up on it?

As always, Ariana….it’s great to read your blog and all the comments too….

Raquel Hall says:

Okay the breast thing… I am not even going to go there. For me it is a hopeless situation. But I can tell you what worked for me in the mid-section. I did see a PT for a muscle eval and to gage how much seperation I had in the ab muscles. After working with a PT to recruit muscles, fire muscles etc I then switched to in studio pilates. I think you would be surprised at how knowlegable these instructors are about core muscles. Now I don’t have a pre-pregnancy stomach ( that would require some additional cardio on my part) but I do have a midsection that I do not have to hide.

Heather says:

Ugh! The stomach pooch. I’ve always been thin, and had a 10 lb. baby, so I was BIG. I’m still thin, so if anyone hears me complain about my stomach, I’m likely to get smacked. But, I know it’s there, and things just don’t fit as well anymore. I do work out (sometimes) but I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon (and my son is 28 mo.) I think I look 3 mo. pregnant, but w/o the glow!

Gillian says:

I have to say that this has been by far my hardest issue to deal with since becoming a mommy. I had been in the process of losing weight when I first became pregnant because I knew of the toll pregnancy would take on an already weak back. I then became pregnant and gained some weigh, um actually 48 lbs. Yes I certainly was not depriving myself throughout the pregnancy. Now nearly 18 months later I am back to pre-pregnancy weight, but I’m guessing I lost in different places because I certainly have a pooch. I tried the gym thing and just couldn’t bring myself to take the time away from T since he was in daycare most of the day. A few months back I began working out at home. I’ve been trying the insanity program and have to say that I have seen a change. Pooch is still present, but smaller. I don’t know if I am just avoiding admitting that enough change will happen and some day I will be happy with what I see, but I feel like I have to do something in the mean time. Looking at all the other skinny mom’s out there makes me think they are keeping SPANX and miracle bra’s in business….or at least that is what I tell myself :) You are certainly not alone and thanks for putting it out there.

Ariana–you hit the nail on the head with the CORE training. I tend to think that is THE key. I was active teen/college kid, but do not workout regularly as an adult. As soon as I felt normal enough after the delivery of my little girl–about 2 weeks after–I started doing core-only exercises with a PT for 30 minutes/2 times a week. I felt so pathetic at first but by the end of my maternity leave I had spent 6 weeks at redeveloping that strength. I didn’t lose all of the weight since I was nursing but it went a long away to getting my middle in control while everything was still contracting.
The BOOBS post-nursing however (BIG SIGH). Yeah–the husband and I get some good laughs/cries out of what they are/and used to be. LOL.

Cathy Mahoney says:

this topic joins me for a couple of years now! Before my kids I was slim, not super thin, but slim and sporty-after the first pregnancy where I had gained about 20 kg (40 pounds?) and the emergency c-section i lost almost everything but about 10 pounds-but it was a struggle, breastfeeding took all my energy first only then would it get to the extra pounds, also the little extra flab on the bottom of my belly did bother me…but i didn´t know there was more to come!after my second boy -again had I gained about 40 pounds and it had to be a c-section my body would not recover. Additionally Baby Dylan couldn´t breastfeed well so that didn´t help much in the weight loss. So since then I am suffering not only from still far too much weight which just won´t come off-and if it does it won´t stay off (because like you know who has the time to go to the gym for hours or the energy to jog for miles..at least I don´t) my belly still looks like I am still pregnant an don the bottom the flab is just out of this world. Someday I also would like a tummy tuck but first I need to lose some weight and make lots of extra money….

Marisa says:

First of all, I am sure you are pretty close to perfect! You look gorgeous and fit in your photos. But I wish you still lived in Fla so we could compare notes! Actually, I don’t b/c then you too would have to come face to face EVERY FREAKING SINGLE DAY with women who I swear to God look like Stepford wives in their sundresses, shorts and bikinis. Better to be in NY where at least some of the time you can hide in a turtleneck!

I gained about 35-38 lbs when pregnant – not as little as I hoped but not a crazy amount either. I think that is around what Bethenny Frankel claimed she gained with her little preemie (I had a full term 8 1/2 pounder). Yet she looks like perfection and I…don’t. Like a lot of boy moms, I was all stomach and carried up high. I think this causes more irreperable damage, I really do. My stomach was just so big of course I got stretchmarks — and WORSE — wrinkly orange peel skin above my belly button from where my skin didn’t snap back. And I was always quite happy with my little A boobs. Now I have Ds. Ds! I LOATHE them; they fit in nothing. I am hesitant to breastfeed any future kids for fear of what might happen.

At some point, I will have to either have lipo or a tummy tuck to address my pooch b/c I can’t even wear sweaters or fitted tank tops anymore. I do not think I have abdominal separation (but an OB can tell you that BTW). But it doesn’t help that I am carrying an extra 15 lbs so I have to lose that first – there isn’t a day (and I mean that honestly) that I don’t long for my old body. Thankfully, I have a pretty great kiddo so that (at least pretty much) makes up for it.

jbhat says:

I have had two babies and things have definitely shifted. My husband called my breasts “HBs” for short when I was pregnant–for Huge Boobs (huge for me anyway; I’m a B cup normally). And post-pregnancy, the nickname for my breasts is “National Gs”–because they are saggy National Geographic breasts now; deflated feedbags that need all the support and encouragement they can get. Sigh.

I am to blame for any body issues I harbor, due to being a pretty lazy and mostly sedentary person. It’s not the children’s fault that I don’t make time to work out on a regular basis. The good news is that I don’t completely disgust myself when I look in the mirror, so I guess it could be worse.

What are transverse abs? :)


Wendy says:

I’ve thought about this alot too. My son is 26 months and I breastfed him for the first 9 months of his life. I loved my shape before pregnancy. I gained 2 cup sizes while nursing and when I stopped I went down 3 cup sizes. I can careless about the stretchmarks, but am not happy with my stomach either. I look in the mirror and I see a baby bump… My proportions are way different — smaller breasts, smaller butt, bigger stomach. I am really puzzled because I am the same weight I was before I was pregnant, explain that one?

Molly says:

So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too – my son is still nursing a bit, so I don’t think the reality of my sure-to-be-completely-deflated breasts has set in. What has surprised me about my post-pregnancy body is that my proportions actually seem to have changed. I’ve always had a small waist and not so small hips/behind.. NOW – even back at my pre-prego weight, I have a thick waist and a flat behind – which baffles me… how did my butt have anything to do with pregnancy??? But, what I find the most troubling is that there is still – 18 months later – a gaping hole between my abdominal muscles. And I remember when I was pregnant and I first saw the ab separation – I thought it was interesting and novel. Little did I know it might be permanent. I did talk to my doctor (OB) about it and she said that some women (especially if you’re on the shorter side and have to grow more outward to accommodate baby) never see their abs “reconnect”. I will say that I haven’t done enough ab work to find out if that will help. But I did run a half-marathon and that made no difference. Anyway – not a lot of help for a long post, but I’ve obviously been thinking about this topic and am glad to have somewhere to vent!

pam says:

Oh, I feel you. Just imagine what triplets does to you. It ain’t pretty. But I wasn’t exactly thin before I got pregnant, so at least I’m used to an untoned tummy.

I am not ashamed to say that when the boys are out of daycare, I *will* be getting plastic surgery to fix it.

Momma Wilson says:

I know what you mean about baby nursers. I was flater than flat to start with and I’m loving feeling like a woman…However, I’m scared to death of what I’ll look like when I stop nursing. Even more than that, I’m afraid of what my husband will think.

I really can’t complain about my stomach. It’s different, but I cannot and won’t complain. The fact that my 8lbs. baby boy came a month early probably had a lot to do with it though. I hate to think of what I would have looked like full term!

Dawn says:

Check out the Shape of a Mother – http://theshapeofamother.com/

It shows the good, the bad, the ugly of people who are in, or who have been, in your shoes. Don’t look to me for inspiration. I am so far behind getting back into shape, it’s not pretty.

Georgia says:

I went through a horrible time with my lower back for two years before I finally went to a doctor about it. The doctor sent me to physical therapy. They discovered that my whole pelvis had been twisted up and caused my lower back pain. They adjusted me and taught me exercises to fix it. It’s not uncommon for women to experience this after childbirth.