The myth of the “pre-baby body”

Guest post by Jessica Shirley-Donnelly

This is probably the most revealing picture I will ever post of myself on the Internet. Look at my belly! I’m coming up on 36 weeks now; in this picture I’m at 31. I officially have the pregnant lady waddle, and getting from a sitting to standing position is way harder than I ever realized it could be. Sometimes she kicks so hard that I actually double over — this gives Mike a small heart attack every time it happens. (I’m so glad she’s strong, but damn…she’s really strong.)

As I get closer and closer to my baby’s birth, my body changes more dramatically by the day. I’m tiny-boned and have practically no body fat when I’m not pregnant, so I’ve had a petite pregnancy, and it turns out people LOVE a skinny pregnant women. Strangers consistently approach me to tell me how great my body looks, and I have mixed feelings about it. I try to take compliments as compliments and just leave it there, but honestly, all of our weird social body issues extend to pregnancy too, and that kind of freaks me out. So here’s my pregnancy reality check.

I’ve gained 35 pounds so far, which means that by the time I give birth I will have blown my doctor’s recommended 30 pound weight gain out of the water. And honestly? I just don’t care. I eat when I’m hungry, take my vitamins, do weekly prenatal yoga, sleep when I’m tired, and have good results on my lab tests. This is the amount of weight my body has decided it needs to make a healthy baby, and I’m inclined to let my body take the lead on this one.

The fact that I look as slim as I do while carrying this much extra weight is just a result of my genes, which are — and this extends to everyone, everywhere — entirely a matter of chance. The genetic wheel spun and I got skinny, where some people get fat or short or red-headed or hazel-eyed, and anything that’s perceived as particularly flattering or desirable about my pregnancy body is entirely a matter of chance, and not a matter of diet, exercise, or will-power.

Contrary to what Gisele most-women-let-themselves-turn-into-garbage-disposals Bundchen would like you to think, you cannot just will yourself into a supermodel’s pregnancy body. You can be healthy and treat yourself right, but your body is going to pad itself in the ways it needs to support your little one, and that’s a GOOD THING. And you know what? The whole “pre-baby body” thing is a myth. A fantasy. If you have a baby, your body is going to change. No matter what the media tells you about celebrities “getting back their bodies,” IT IS A MYTH. Pregnancy changes bodies, and that’s OKAY. That’s the way it SHOULD BE.

I might get my pre-baby weight back — I have no idea, we’ll see — but the landscape has changed now. What’s stretched will probably not unstretch, my A-cup breasts (which are currently a C-cup) are not going to be as perky unless I surgically encourage them, my hips despite my small frame will probably never be quite as narrow, and my ass, frankly, looks like a road map. That may fade, but it’s not going to disappear. I have cellulite now. The body I had before motherhood is not going to be the body I have after motherhood, and that’s okay. IT’S ALL OKAY!

I, with the help of the man I love more than anything, AM MAKING A BABY. A little person who will talk and grow and learn and have opinions and wear questionable outfits and get dirty and fall off her bike, who will have friends and sleepovers and good days and bad days, who is already making me happier than I can even describe and will also probably drive me crazy, who will read books and knock things over, who will want and need and like and dislike things.

The idea of a daughter is approximately one million times more exciting than the idea of having my “pre-baby body” forever, and I have nothing but respect for what will be my post-baby body. My body was awesome before, my body is awesome now, and my body will be awesome after I give birth.

Comments on The myth of the “pre-baby body”

  1. Such a great post! Everywhere else you look in the media it’s always “oh this supermodel had a baby and now she’s ‘back to normal’ x number of weeks later”. It’s all crap, and it never goes away. It’s nice to have a real perspective once in a while.
    I was always built like a bit of a brick sh*t house, and gained quite a lot of weight while pregnant (especially right at the end). I know I’ll never be a size 0, and that’s fine, but I kinda fell a bit into the pre-baby body thing after Bubs was born. He’s 13 months now, and I’m somewhat close to back to my original size. My hips are bigger, that’s for sure, and my boobs still are. I’m actually quite glad to have come as far as I have in this time, I was found to be hypothyroid when Bub’s was about five or six months, so I had a bit of a setback on the weight loss thing until I got that balanced. But you know what, the most important thing is to live healthily within our size and for our kids. I’d probably look horribly unhealthy as even a size 6, so why push myself that hard to get there just because “I should”?

  2. I have never taken better care of myself until my little man was growing in me, and I was responsible for his health! While I am 45lbs over weight, my tummy is shredded, and I’m not sure I will ever look the same, I know it changed my life for the better. 4 weeks after meeting my son, I am working out(best I can), cause I want the endorphins, I want to feel sexy, I want to treat my body with as much love as I showed my son! Every woman is different, but I know I feel my best when I’m in shape and active. Is it gonna happen for me like the Hollywood Starlets? No freekn way!! How could it, no amount of plastic surgery could get my “thick” body to look like that. But I know that happy and healthy is the best look for every body type. Great blog!

  3. I struggled with my weight before pregnancy and had a really tough time accepting that to grow a kid you have to gain. Now my only problem with my body is my stretch marks. I want to be one of those women that embraces all the changes but I really not. I am working on it.

  4. I’m ok with my “post baby” body being 15 pounds heavier, but I do miss my old clothes. I went from a curvy 8/10 to a lumpy 10/12 and nothing fits right anymore. All my favorite funky skirts and cute tops that I’ve been aquiring for years now hang in my closet unworn. I had to buy lots of cheap junky stuff just to have something to wear, because I don’t want to spend money on nice stuff for a body that still feels temporary. Especially since post baby, there’s so much less money!

  5. Lovely post! I felt the exact same way when pregnant with my daughter! I ate when I was hungry, slept when tired and gave into my cravings which were mostly watermelon and waffles. I only gained 30lbs total but most of that weight was in the last few months when my belly exploded on my small frame.I also exploded with stretch marks. The thing is, I don’t hate them at all, I love them. I wish everyone would stop telling me to put creams and lotions on them.

  6. This was so beautiful I started tearing up. Thank you for giving me new confidence that my post-baby body will be beautiful in a whole new way.

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