Women are sharing the reality of postpartum bodies in an effort to share a truth that people tend to gloss over. The snaps come from the Take Back Postpartum page, which is an effort created by author, motivational speaker, and body positivity advocate January Harshe.
Check out some of the powerful images and stories from the women of the Take Back Postpartum page.
1. Double tap if you know this scene all too well.
My body language says it all, looking down at the scale (the stupid scale!) and being disappointed in the number I see.
The moment I brought it home I cursed myself. Why did it even matter? What had motivated me to tie my worth to some arbitrary number on a scale? _ As a former athlete and someone who always had a size 6/8 body, learning to love my new curvy, size 12 self isn’t always easy. I’m beyond proud of my body and what its done yet I still can’t always fully embrace the figure staring back at me in the mirror. _ The truth is, it’s not always easy accepting and embracing our bodies after having children. Things have shifted and changed and for many, may never be the same again. But maybe that’s ok, maybe we’re not supposed to be the same as we were before. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it again and again, especially on my low days. _ We.are.more.than.a.number.on.a.scale. We are beautiful. We are powerful. We are mothers.
2. A note to the new mama. You may not recognise your own body anymore, but you need to give it time.
– It’s possible you’ll still look pregnant weeks after birth, this is normal.
_ Your belly button will look the way it used to, eventually.
_ Your body may have made some permanent physical changes, embrace them.
_ You may lose a lot of hair in the first few months, don’t panic it’s a normal phase.
_ Your hormones are adjusting themselves, there will be high, lows and probably tears.
_ You may get the baby blues or postpartum depression, know that this is okay and ask for help and support, you’re not alone.
_ Your breastfeeding journey (if you do) may not be as easy as you expected, don’t beat yourself up and it will take time.
_ You may bleed for weeks after giving birth, like a big pain in the ass period.
_ You need to increase you fiber intake… just trust us on this one!
_ You may sweat a lot and feel like you’re in a constant heat wave in the first few days, thank you hormones.
_ You may have permanent scars on your body, these are simply reminders of how strong our amazing bodies are, learn to love them.
_ Motherhood changes us, physically, mentally and emotionally. Some of these changes permanent, most temporary, remember you’re not alone.
_ Welcome to the club mama, we got you. Fellow mama’s – if I haven’t listed it here, let a new mama know something.
3. Every new mom needs loving care, but a new mom recovering from a c-section needs extra help.
4. Cartoons, unbrushed hair, one messy bed, a few sisters, and a whole lotta love. Morning snuggles just got a whole lot sweeter.”
5. This photo is one that I knew I absolutely needed to take of myself, for myself, after I gave birth to my son.
Once I could no longer fit in my jeans, I got rid of them. I didn’t want my changing body to determine how I felt about myself (especially during pregnancy), so I did what I thought would help, and it did. And now that my baby boy is out of my belly and in the world, I know I’m going to go through some rough thoughts about my new body again. I wanted this photo to remind me how strong and brave and beautiful I am. And it’s absolutely okay for me to not feel 1000% beautiful and strong and brave every single day.”
6. Three days after Naia was born @gavinhicks took this photo of me in adult diapers, baby bump still present, greasy hair, and took the camera away from his face to tell me I’m beautiful.
Find a partner who does that because you deserve it and you need to hear it especially when you don’t feel yourself. This time in your life is however more you and more raw and real than you’ll ever be. It’s messy and sometimes scary but my goodness it’s beautiful and magical. Looking at all of you Mamas in awe. We’re in this crazy s**t together.
7. This is a rare picture of me, doing my thang, trying to get ready #momlife #pumplife.
How many of you mamas are pros at juggling multiple tasks? Cause I’m not hence why my bathroom is messy, closet is unorganized, but this is real life. Real life is messy and not social media perfection and THATS OKAT. _ Also, can we talk about how cute my 6 week postpartum tummy is? There was a baby in there and I’m squishy and I love it.
8. Self Love
I used to weigh myself every morning.
I would always make sure to go to the bathroom first.
There would be a rush of anxiety as the scale blinked while I stared down in anticipation.
It was the moment that would depict how I approached my day.
Would I be positive and embrace the day happily because the number was a whole .1 lower than yesterday morning?
Or would I angrily start brushing my teeth and threaten myself to only eat a salad for today because the number was a whole .1 higher than yesterday?
This was how I lived.
It was destroying me.
And I was completely convinced that this was the only way to be happy.
This was the only way I would get to where I was supposed to be in order to become a mother.
I repeated to myself that the only way to be happy was to be skinny.
So I lost weight.
And it never felt like it was enough.
I worked out only to lose weight, rather than the way I do now where I focus more on how it makes me feel.
But then I had Maci.
For the first time, I felt thankful for my body.
There was a moment after she was born that I stood in the hospital bathroom just before I took my first postpartum shower.
I was only in my robe as I stared into the mirror.
I almost remember it in slow motion because I had avoided a mirror for years, even throughout most of my pregnancy.
Locking eyes with myself, I tugged the string and the robe separated a few inches.
I froze for a few seconds before I let the robe fall down to the ground.
And there I was.
I saw me for what felt like the very first time, but after another few seconds, I closed my eyes.
I turned around and walked towards the shower.
This moment was just the beginning of my self-love journey.
It doesn’t happen quickly.
But it never would have happened had I not tried.
9. Grateful for this body that nourishes my babies.
I told Ira to show me his muscles and he took it very seriously lol.. My boobs are constantly two different sizes, but on the plus side I am feeling my energy coming back.
10. This is postpartum.
Swollen breasts, swollen, empty stomach, peri-bottles, bloody underwear and pads. I’m tired, my body hurts and I’m not doing great at the week of strict bedrest I told myself I needed. But my heart is so full of love and appreciation and awe. Growing children, in and out of the womb, is dirty and tiring work but it is also the most gratifying and amazing job in the world. I would live in this body 1000x over to reap that reward.
11. Time will push you to your limits faster than you want it to, aging you in ways that make you ache, slow down, grow tired and weak.
Laugh. Walk. Eat. Drink. Dance. Garden. Skip. Make an effort and stop time. Stand beneath a rainshower, let yourself become completely drenched. Nap under a tree, when the rest of the world goes to work. Get on a bicycle and go for a cruise. Drink that wine or milkshake slower than you ever thought you could… savour each drop.
Babies will suck your energy up. Children will treat your body like a jungle gym, bruising your skin, and pulling your muscles. Jobs will have you sitting indoors for too long. Partners may take you for granted. Friends will be under the illusion that they are too busy for simpler times spent together. Musical instruments will sit in their cases, forgotten. Hair will go unwashed. First dates will be boring and waste your time. Lovers will rip your heart out and put you through emotional hell and back, leaving you gutted, insecure and distrusting. Labor and birth and early motherhood will be painful, hard and depleting; leaving you with a body you may not know so well, or feel so good about.
The path of adulthood is textured and often, uphill. But.
You are incredible. You are soft, and precious. Giving, and nurturing. Beautiful and sensual.
12. I spent Mothers Day blissfully disconnected with all my boys.
Instead of posting a done up photo depicting the highlight reel version of motherhood, I wanted to share this picture… because THIS is motherhood. This picture was taken hours after Cash arrived & it shows the reality of how much your mind, body & soul change after bringing life into the world. Stretch marks, saggy skin, exhaustion, a body that will never be the same… but 1000% worth it for the reward I received. To all you beautiful mamas out there rocking the body motherhood gave you!
13. I tried to find a perfectly posed photo of me breastfeeding Charlie with my hair all nice and face done, but I quickly realized that it didn’t exist.
No makeup and unshowered, sweaty from sporadic hot flashes, and so frickin hungry ALL THE TIME. That’s my truth. Breastfeeding has been my favorite part of mommyhood so far. So happy I get to experience this with my daughter and so blessed for the support I’ve gotten along this journey.
14. “Get your body back after the baby is born”, they say.
I wasn’t aware that my body ever left. If anything, each pregnancy brings me closer to my body. I mean, sure there’s some extra pounds. But that’s the beauty of the postpartum body. Weight might fluctuate, or it might plateau. You might “snap back”, or you might discover a new version of your body. Alena is 4 months old and I’m still holding on to about 20lbs of baby weight. I’m focused on being healthy not because I “want my body back”, because I’d never want to be without the extra stretch marks and squishiness I’d acquired during my pregnancy with my sweet girl. But because it makes me feel good! You can get healthy to embrace your new body, instead of being concerned about what used to be. As far as I’m concerned, we just get more beautiful after we’ve carried life. Why worry about going back, when we’ve just gotten better.
15. This is postpartum.
At first glance, my negative self talk thinks this is probably the most unflattering picture ever taken of me. I see double chins, a belly that looks like it still houses a baby, stretch marks, cellulite, and a whole lot of extra weight. Push that self deprecating talk aside, and this photo captured by my adoring husband, seriously gives me all the feels. _ I have never felt more like a fierce and strong warrior mama princess than in these first few postpartum minutes and hours (yep, even with the giant adult diaper) Growing and birthing a tiny human is such a raw, transforming, utterly miraculous act, and I can hardly believe how strong and amazing my body is. And this little human we created, oh my! The overwhelming love! Utterly mind blowing! _ Women are truly amazing (men, are pretty great too), and we should never doubt our strength and power or let negative self talk make us feel like any less of the goddesses we are!
16. 5 weeks Postpartum!
No snap back here ladies. Just stretch marks, 5 finger diastasis, and a heart full of love. After 5 weeks, I still look 4 months pregnant and I’m still a bit sore from 2 ecv’s and an emergency c-section. I have been eating well and will be starting physio soon once I get the all clear from the GP. Women are amazing and everyone recovers differrently from their unique delivery experience, what matters most is that cute little face that we get to call our own.
“Living in the newborn haze of sleep deprivation, unmade beds, pjs all day, too much tv, millions of nappies and breastfeeding.all.day. I’ve been so honest with you all through my pregnancy jouney, and I wanted to continue to be honest after. I don’t want people to think I’ve just bounced back (lol) or suddenly to hide myself away – why should I share photos of my big bump and be proud of it, then suddenly become ashamed as soon as the baby is out? As a society, we are so conditioned to hide our postpartum bodies, to be ashamed of loose skin and stretch marks and saggy bellies and breasts. Theres so much pressure to bounce back, suck it in, cover it up… But the stupidest part is that most of us have it, to some degree or another!! So why the hell are we all hiding away – fear of judgement? We should be proud of our bodies that grew, nourished and birthed our precious babies, and continue to feed them once they’re out. ⠀ _ I would be lying if I said I loved the way my body looks now, but I’m ok with it. Carrying two very large babies, gaining and losing 33kg then gaining another 25kg and having 2 c cections (which by the way – I had no idea about the C-section tum until I got it ) has left me with lots of loose skin, more stretch marks than I’d ever imagined and a bellybutton that is unrecognizable. _ But I’m not out to try and “get my body back”… why? Because it never bloody went anywhere!! It was here the whole time, growing humans – I’m pretty sure I should be giving it a damn break not punishing it when it’s done so much for me. Plus, right now I just want to eat when I’m hungry (which is ALL the time) take it slow and enjoy this precious time, because it will be over in the blink of an eye!”
18. I would like to share my photo on your page of me breastfeeding my son on my wedding day.
This picture is very important to me because at the age of 22 so many people doubted me and said I would give up on breastfeeding and here I am 4 months later and still going strong. I enjoy nursing my son and I made sure when I chose my wedding dress I would be able to nurse throughout my entire night. And I was able to. So I just want to share with women that no matter who doubts you or who turns their noses up to breastfeeding that it can be done. No one should make them feel embarrassed about feeding their child in the most natural way.
19. How is this considered ugly?
This is #Motherhood. My story, marked (literally) all over my abdomen. This is what two healthy babies and two miscarriages in 11 years looks like for me.
20. This is me one day after giving birth. Belly still swollen from extra fluid, stretched skin and muscles, and a uterus that had grown to the max. I was prepared for that.
One week later, I left Cubby with my mother. I needed to get out of the house and he was sleeping, so it was better for him to stay. My first solo trip. And just as I was about to enter the Target, I had this overwhelming wave of emotion that I was so very much not prepared for.
I was totally alone.
I started crying.
For ten months, I’d carried this soul inside me. Felt my baby kick, laughed and talked and sung to him. We ate together, we slept together, we were completely and utterly one.
And now I was walking into the Target all by myself with my round postpartum belly but with no baby in it. .
I felt empty.
I would reach down absentmindedly to touch my belly, to have that connection I’d once felt but that squishy belly was far from the one I’d had just a week prior that was bursting with life.
The belly never bothered me.
The loneliness did.
Some people will say that having a baby is like having a piece of your heart outside your body.
Not for me. I never really notice my heart.
For me it felt more like a limb was missing, like I had forgotten to put on clothes, or that feeling when you can’t find your wallet. I was exposed and vulnerable.
Watching that belly fade was like losing a memory.
Maybe that’s why nature wants us to keep our young close, why they so perfectly curve into us when we hold them, why we feel like something is off when they aren’t around.
Just maybe it’s so that at least a little bit of that memory remains.
Lead image: @TakeBackPostpartum/Instagram