New Baby, New Body

Learning to accept your post-baby body.
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New Baby, New Body

Learning to accept your post-baby body.

-Kali Hamerton-Stove,

Changed body

Before my baby was born, it seemed that the world had adopted a mantra especially for me. Friends with children delivered it knowingly, my mother shook her head and whispered it under her breath, my OB/GYN even said it with a sly smile as I was in the throes of labor. I became accustomed to the words and I thought I knew what they meant when they said, “having a baby changes everything.”

I was ready for a change, ready for a new chapter in life, ready to take on a fresh challenge. Truthfully though, nothing anyone said or did prepared me for the revolution that arrived with that perfect little baby boy. Everyone talks about the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the unexpected tears, and the sex deficiency, but what about the first time you take a good look in the mirror and experience complete identity crisis. I was not the beautiful, young mother I’d hoped to be. I was a “tummy mummy.”

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“Nine months up, nine months down,” my yoga teacher said. She begged me not to worry and insisted that I take it slow, but my dreams were haunted by visions of Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie in their flawlessly lithe motherhood. My desperate lack of sleep and the confusion I felt in the face of ultimate responsibility for my baby did not help me deal with my conundrum. I became more and more disappointed with myself when the baby weight failed to disappear after a few months. I saw regaining control of my physical appearance as an opportunity to regain control over my life.

My sister-in-law recommended a severe diet and a friend recommended her expensive personal trainer, but I was never much of a dieter or militant exerciser. Other than yoga, I liked to cycle or rock climb, difficult hobbies to pursue with a newborn on my hip. The post-pregnancy Pilates and conditioning courses I signed up for didn’t make a dent in my new-found hips, but they did introduce me to some disgruntled new mothers like myself. We banded together and started walking several times a week, pushing ourselves, and our strollers, to go faster and faster. A couple of us met at the local pool to swim leisurely laps followed by coffee and eventually wine. I slowly started to feel better about my body, but I noticed that the weight still seemed to be clinging to my hips.

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