As young women, we are often too critical of our appearances. Although young and beautiful, we tend to obsess over an endless list of “flaws.” We give ourselves too little praise for the beauty that we possess. As women enter motherhood, a new challenge arises– accepting the post-baby body. Stretch marks. Wider hips. Scars. Extra weight. All this and more are right around the corner waiting to “ruin” that body that you already critique! Too many women fear motherhood because of these physical changes, and we need to be reminded of the greater joy and beauty that awaits.
In a blogpost entitled “Babies Ruin Bodies,” a young mother, N’tima, reflected on the changes that her body underwent after carrying and giving birth to her baby girl.
“I have dark pools under my eyes. A valley where my belly button once was. Hips with a new amplitude that my teenage self wouldn’t recognize. I have lines mapped across the mountains of stretched skin left over on my midsection. Lightening bolts on my sides proving I once was too small to contain all of the love that filled me. Lines indicating that my daughter once lived inside of me.”
Despite these changes to her physical appearance, N’tima refuses to compare herself to society’s often unreasonable expectations of beauty, and instead she chooses to focus on the joys of motherhood. What she has created is so much greater, and she has gracefully embraced her new body.
“Every limb, finger, toe… her heart, even, developed near the very place my own heart beats inside of my chest. Those mountains of skin are all I have left to prove that we were once one and not two. How can I be ashamed of that? …My body grew that. Not everybody has that privilege… I am not something flawless in the eyes of society, or even close to what I once was physically, but my perfect girl sees me for who I am. To her, I hang the moon. She knows my heart. She knew it long before we met. And she loves me for it. I cannot tell you how much worth and validation I feel because of that truth. My body is only a vessel for my spirit. An incredible vessel. It is strong, well, abled, and undefeated. My body is full of life. My body is powerful. My body made me a mother.”
N’Tima’s reflection is a great reminder about the challenges and joys of motherhood. If you are a mom or an expectant mom worried about your post-baby body, here are 3 things to remember:
- You are strong. Through morning sickness, people’s stares, labor pains, and crazy nights of no sleep, you have shown great strength in carrying and caring for your child.
- You are awe-inspiring. It is truly miraculous what you have done. You have sheltered the life of a whole, new person! No art, no book, and no building on Earth has more value than the precious life that you now hold in your arms.
- You are beautiful. Embrace the physical changes as signs of your strength and love. Take care of yourself- physically and emotionally. Remind yourself that you are beautiful, and be confident in the new you!
- Read N’Tima’s reflection, Babies Ruin Bodies, and visit her blog, We Seek Joy.
- Are you pregnant? Not sure what to expect? Check out this video by Talya Rose. (She has great points about body image at 9:40!):
About the Writer: Beth (O’Malley) Rahal is the Pregnant on Campus Coordinator for Students for Life of America. To learn more about the Pregnant on Campus Initiative, or to start a new pro-life student group, contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.