Love your post-baby body

The Texas summer heat holds nothing back — so I opted for the treadmill in our bedroom today with a panoramic view of the backyard. I’m just easing back into things since baby #4 was born two and a half months ago. My pace was slow, but steady.

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, Pharrell sang through my headphones—and I clapped. I felt sweaty. Tired. And mostly, happy.

I’ve had this treadmill since college, it’s like an old friend. And in every intermittent spurt of regular exercise that I find myself in while growing 4 babies in 5 years, I am reminded, once again, that this place—where running shoes hug my feet and earphones hug my head—is a beautiful one. It takes a few weeks to settle in and then, my muscles regain their memory and once again: I am a runner.

A slow runner, but a runner nonetheless. Does that make me a jogger then? That doesn’t sound nearly as fierce. “And once again: I am a slow jogger.”

I started running as a chubby teenager. I don’t even remember the moment of motivation really. It was one of those Forest Gump moments where “I just felt like running” and then, a year later, I had dropped 4 sizes or so and was in great shape.

I kept the habit regularly for over a decade, but baby growing and rearing has derailed it, and so I’m trying to pick it up again. In the glorious breaks from motherhood given to me by a nap time or my husband, I lace up my shoes and am reminded, once again, of the power of our bodies.

I always pause for a moment when reading baby forums or magazines when seeing someone say, “I hate my body after having a baby.” Of course, I get it. And I’ve probably said something along those lines before in tears while trying on every pair of pants in my closet unsuccessfully in those first few months. But mostly, the predominant and overwhelming emotion I have with my post-baby body is awe.

I am proud and grateful for it — amazed by its potential in participating in the greatest miracle known to man. And so, I try to be gentle with myself. Strong and disciplined and all those virtuous things, of course, but gentle, patient. After all, nature knows that a little extra softness around the mid-section makes for comfortable babies.

As a mother to three daughters, I am very thoughtful of the way we think and talk about our bodies — whether it’s post-puberty, post-baby, whatever.

We are capable of a many great things — and if my daughter laces up her sneakers and hits the ground running one day, I don’t ever want it to be because she hates her body — but because she loves it.

Why you should love your post-baby body

11 Comments

  1. Shannon

    Oh, I like this post! I grew up in a home where fat was vilified, exercise glorified, and how a person looked was way over-emphasized. As I became a mother (3 girls, 1 boy, and an unknown due in a few weeks), I have struggled to make sure what I say to my children about their appearances is constructive (no, the purple and orange flowered shirt does NOT go with the hot pink striped skirt and argyle socks, etc, and then it tell them what WOULD go better with one or the other item) and not critical (you look like a clown!) (oops…that one actually did get said, and she was afraid to pick her own clothes for a year). :-/ When I have my intermittent spurts of exercise, we talk about being healthy and taking care of our bodies, never “mommy’s fat and needs to lose 30 lbs and the roll of yuck on her belly”. I never want to stress that being a little soft (as I have been since I became a mom almost 13 years ago) is something to be hated or ashamed of, nor does it make a person less valuable or less beautiful.

  2. I wish my words could convey just how beautiful and timely this post is for me. I just spent half an hour complaining (and crying) about my post-baby body…and then THIS in my inbox. Lauren, I love you and I love how your writing always leaves me uplifted and encouraged. Hugs to you!

    • Lauren

      Aww, Kathryn — wish I could give you a big hug right now! And we really should get together to do just that — we live close enough!! Enjoy those new baby snuggles :) I am!!

  3. SO beautiful, thank you.
    I am also growing #4 in 5 years and I am so eager to get back in shape after baby comes, but with 3 girls watching me as well, I know I need to be really careful where I put the emphasis, this was a great reminder.

    So glad I found your blog through Kathryn!

    • Lauren

      Ana, wonderful to hear from you! Yes — I know how you feel. I just always remember that my body is doing some wonderful things and I need to be patient with it. You’ll meet your goals, and so will I! Patience :)

  4. Yes, I’d call you a runner, not a slow jogger!

    This was great. I often think about my own upbringing, and how my mom rarely said anything negative about her own appearance. I didn’t realize this until I met my MIL, who complains about her own body to me (even though smaller and in better shape than my mother’s). Sometimes I think she does it as a bonding thing? If you peruse through the greeting card aisle, you’ll see all this cards for female friends commiserating about getting older and ‘saggier.’ Never, ever, ever buy those cards. I don’t feed into my MIL’s game. And my own mom’s example helped me out a ton when I had my own baby, and has also helped me have confidence my entire life.

  5. Jillian

    I try to go easy on myself after 2 kids (the 2nd one did a number on my skin with stretch marks and sagging). With both, it took me at least 18 months to lose the weight, and as my second turns two next month, I am finally feeling like myself again. I’m also a runner (and weight lifter, and cyclist, and anything else I can do to stay active), and those first few months of trying to get back into it are so hard! My husband and I don’t talk about our looks, but we try to set good examples for our kids and talk about healthy habits (food, exercise, sleep). Eating healthy, exercising, and taking good naps (“so we have energy to play!”) is becoming ingrained in our kids’ daily life because my husband and I have made it so in our lives.

    Though the running may mostly be for you – your time away, your body, your inner strength and commitment – it’s setting a great example for your children. Keep at it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *