Nothing changes your body quite like having a baby. Sure, celeb moms like Blake Lively and Chrissy Teigen seem to “bounce back” just fine, but I’m willing to bet even perfect A-listers notice their hips are wider, their breasts have changed, and their old clothes never fit quite the same way.
We tend to think of postpartum bodies as something women either love or totally hate, but the truth is most moms fall somewhere on a very wide spectrum of opinions about their new shapes. As someone who’s had two babies, I can tell you from experience that accepting your new bod is a complicated process. I love my new hips, but I hate the extra skin on my belly. I feel like my boobs came out of the baby-growing process mostly unscathed, but I’m also pretty sure I have more stretch marks than is normal or necessary.
How a woman feels about her post-baby body is deeply personal and totally unique to each individual. Here, 11 women get real about the good, the bad, and the totally unexpected parts of making peace with your body after you become a mom.
1. I miss my boobs.
“When it comes to my body, I really have no major complaints. The only thing I don’t like are my post-breastfeeding boobs. They’re sad and flabby, like balloons leftover from last week’s birthday party.” – Ginny G., 29
2. I’m more comfortable in my skin than ever before.
“In the weeks immediately after giving birth, I felt deflated. I was used to this growing baby bump and when it was suddenly gone, I wasn’t immediately comfortable with what was left behind. But, it became something I thought less and less about each day. Now, 11 months later, I’m actually more comfortable in my skin than probably ever before.” – Emily G., 25
3. I don’t think I’ll ever love my body again.
“I hate my body. I hate that even though I weigh less and am probably much more active than before having a baby, I don’t see ever loving it again. One of the main things I dislike is my stomach after having a c-section. I remember the nurse and the doctor being shocked by the ‘over-hang’ of my stomach covering the scar area. Not only did that cause issues with healing for months and end up sending me to a wound care center, but it also means shopping for and wearing pants still sucks, even 3 years out. I also hate the stretch marks. I remember the ultrasound tech right before I had my son saying, “Oh! He really tore you up!” Yes, he did. Thanks for that.” – Nicole S., 28
4. I’m feeling myself.
“After baby number 4, I’m not liking the 10 pounds I still haven’t lost a year later. But, honestly, I love my body. I still find it strong and capable and amazing. Sure, my belly is jiggly, and my core is much weaker but, dang it, I still like it, despite not liking how my clothes fit right now.” – Katelyn F., 28
5. I appreciate what my body can do.
“My oldest child loves my squishy belly, and I guess I do too because it’s important for me to show her that a body as it is, is exactly how it should be. I still want to lose some squish, but I don’t want to lose the profound appreciation for this body that has done such incredible things. I don’t think I will. The squish will always be there, and I guess my love of me always will be too. I hope.” – Lauren M., 32
6. My body still feels like a stranger’s.
“I’m disappointed in mine… I’m proud of my body and what it’s done, but I’m saggy and smooshy and soft, and I weigh a lot more than I ever did pre-baby. My shape isn’t the same. Even my ribcage seems larger. Hips and pelvis, too. I’m curvier where I didn’t want to be. There is a pooch. I love my kids and I loved pregnancy. I loved my belly at the time. Now? Not so much. I feel sometimes like I’m looking at someone else in the mirror. The pride can’t eliminate the loathing. I wish it could.” – Erin B., 40
7. It’s a love/hate relationship.
“I love my body about 80℅ of the time. I love my curves. I love my bigger breasts. I don’t even mind my stretch marks and cellulite. But, that other 20% comes from my disappointment in my inability to conceive again. I’m frustrated with my PCOS and how seemingly impossible it’s been to lose the baby weight from my first pregnancy. At the same time, secondary infertility makes me appreciate that this body was able to conceive and carry to term at all. So, it’s a love/hate relationship, with more love than hate. But, it’s taken me a long time to get here.” – Tamara G., 31
8. I try not to let body woes rule my life.
“Most of the time I’m okay with my body. I try really hard to not let my daughter see me cringe when I look in the mirror, which of course I do sometimes. More often than not I feel fine with it, and I’ve even developed a game with my belly pouch. I make my belly button talk, and then get my daughter to try to stick her finger in there without the belly monster munching on her! She’s five, so I know whatever I do now will help shape how she feels about her own body. It’s not realistic to say you’re never going to look at those stretch marks with complete acceptance, or feel weird that you don’t have sensation where your C-section scar is…still…five years later. But I try to not let it rule my life. I love fun clothes, I love yummy food, and most of all, I love not spending every minute thinking about how I look to other people.” – Neva C., 37
9. I struggle with self-acceptance.
“I really struggle with my postpartum body because I danced very seriously until I was 18, and I still teach dance to this day. I had my first daughter at age 27, and I thought my body would bounce right back. I went through depression for the first year of her life, because I was always taught that the numbers on the scale are bad…Our second daughter was born this summer, and I’m starting to embrace my body a little more. I’m turning 30 at the end of this month, and it’s just now clicking that I’m not 18 anymore. I might never have the body that I used to. But, I have two gorgeous daughters. I…fought through hyperemesis through all 9 months of this second pregnancy. I did both labors completely drug free. My body has done some incredible things. It’s been a slow process for me to realize how amazing every mom is and what our bodies do — we’re pretty cool. So, while I still struggle, and I still sometimes cringe when I see that number on the scale… I smile at my stretch marks and then throw on some sweats. In the end, my two girls don’t care what my tummy looks like. They just want an amazing mom.” – Kristen H., 29
10. I’m not about to let stretch marks ruin my self-image
“I like my body now more than I did pre-baby. Not only because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve prioritized fitness more, but because the standards I go by have changed. Since I had my first child 9 years ago, my idea of a ‘great’ body is entirely different. I’m more concerned with how strong and fit I am. I want to see muscle definition more than a certain number on the scale, and although I have a tiny pouch in my belly, it doesn’t stop me from wearing a bikini because there’s muscle there and I worked hard for it! I go easier on myself than I did 10 years ago. I have a daughter, and I want her to see me modeling healthy habits and behaviors. I point out to her that I have big muscles in my legs and arms, and I tell her that makes me strong and able to pick up groceries and take long walks and keep my heart healthy. I’m not obsessing over tiny imperfections because overall, my body can do a lot of pretty great shit. I’m not about to let a few stretch marks and a little belly sag ruin my self-image.” – Valerie M., 34
11. I can’t hate my body, no matter what.
“I can never again vehemently hate my body because it made my healthy daughter. Sure, it looks a little different, but I’m only concerned with being healthy and happy, nothing more.” – Rachel E., 29
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