Today’s topic is simply me adding my agreement to the reality that it’s not only OKAY, but BEAUTIFUL to actually “look like” you had a baby.
Every woman is so incredibly different in every facet of pregnancy. Some women get stretch marks. Some don’t. Some gain a lot of weight while pregnant; others struggle to gain the weight they need to. Some women have heartburn, nausea, and no appetite, while others are constantly ravenous and full of energy.
And birth is no different. I’m always fascinated by the fact that no two birth stories are the same. My first birth experience was a total of 7.5 hours from the time my water broke to the time I was holding my baby in my arms. Many first-time moms are in labour for multiple days. Some leave with third-degree tears; some have none at all. Some have planned or emergency C-sections while others deliver vaginally. Some call the pain the worst thing they’ve ever endured and get an epidural, while others see each contraction as a mountain to be climbed. I could go on and on.
We recognize these differences in pregnancy and birth…and then our culture treats postpartum like a one-size-fits-all. We’re certainly starting to talk more about these things, and seeing less of the extremely damaging magazine headlines like “Lose the baby weight and then some in just weeks”, but I still think it’s worth diving into WHY these sorts of messages are so damaging, why they’re soo unrealistic, and hopefully exhort you to remember that every woman, every body, every uterus, every mark left by every baby is so incredibly different.
So I guess we’ll start with my experience.
I was all prepared to still have the pregnant belly after giving birth to my son. That’s why I was shocked when I looked in the mirror to see my stomach flat. And then, within 2 weeks, I had lost all the baby and weight and then some.
Now I don’t share this for you to compare yourself to or worry if you’re 9 months postpartum and haven’t lost any weight. That’s fine: more than fine. I share it to say that every body is soo different. In those 2 weeks, I was constantly hungry and eating so much food; and at the same time, I was bedridden. For whatever reason, I was one of those people who just lost weight postpartum without doing anything.
You might be one who has been actually trying to lose weight postpartum, working out maybe even a bit obsessively and eating too little, even while breastfeeding, and somehow not seeing the number on the scale move. For you, maybe it’s time to ditch the scale and focus on nourishing yourself and your baby in this season rather than numbers. I would actually argue that a focus on nourishment > numbers is almost always the most helpful lifestyle shift for lasting change. And it is so important to live without food restrictions while breastfeeding to make sure both you and your baby are getting enough nutrients. It’s NOT the time for a diet.
For some people, breastfeeding naturally causes weight loss. For others, it causes weight maintenance or even gain, because your body is holding on to weight to ensure a stable milk supply. I never thought I’d be one of the people who lost weight easily while breastfeeding, and for me that has been a bit tempting. It’s not like I’ve lost a huge amount or anything; it’s all been healthy because I’m eating very well and according to my hunger. But the devil has whispered: “Keep going. Keep losing weight. The more you lose, the better. You’re more beautiful with this weight off than before you got pregnant.”
I know that these are lies. I know that I am more beautiful than ever only because of who Christ is in me. But the world begs us to bow down to the idols of external beauty standards, whether it’s flawless hair and make-up, ageless skin, or a toned body. But truly, “truly I say”, the most radiantly beautiful women I have ever met are those know Jesus most intimately. Regardless of wrinkles. Regardless of flab. Regardless of the foundation they use or don’t use or the hair colour they have or don’t have. When Jesus reigns in someone, oh it is evident: so beautifully evident.
So let’s together say no to bounce-back culture and yes to bodies that “look like they had a baby.” Because I want to look like I have a baby. I’ve got more stretch marks and flab. My body carried a human for 9 months and then birthed him, so I would think it would look a little different! And you know what? It’s truly okay. If you’re not in a place where it’s truly okay with you that your body is a bit bigger or flabbier or “whatever” than society says it should be, I want you to heed Jesus’ words when He says: “”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25
Whether you lost the baby weight or gained more, I urge you today, momma, to surrender every part of you – food, your body, clothes, exercise, all of it – to Jesus for His glory. Pick up freedom today, and put down shame, condemnation, and rules.