Before and During Pregnancy
I have always been rather slender. I am very petite; the heaviest I have been is 113 pounds and I am 4’11.” I should also note that I have never had an eating disorder and have never been on a diet. Sure, there were times I was out of shape and a little heavier than I should have been, but for the most part I have been a normal, average, healthy size.
In the year preceding my pregnancy, I was in the best shape of my life, working out regularly, wearing a size 0-1, and I was a healthy 90 lbs. Needless to say, I am a very disciplined person. During my pregnancy, I maintained my workouts for the most part, except I modified how I did abdominal exercises so that I wasn’t lying supine. I also listened to my body and stopped when I started to get overtired. During the last 4-6 weeks of my pregnancy, I hardly ever exercised because I was too tired. As far as my pregnancy diet is concerned, I didn’t change anything about my normal way of eating. That is to say, I ate moderately: I ate when I was hungry, and stopped when I was full. I had a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, vitamins, nutrients, and other healthy stuff. I avoided caffeine and too many sweets. I gained about 30 pounds during my pregnancy, it was my 1st baby (1st pregnancy also), and I was 25. I gave birth vaginally at 37 weeks without any problems to a healthy child.
I was in my pre-pregnancy clothes and wearing a size 0-1 again by 3-4 weeks after delivery, although I wasn’t nearly as toned and as tight as I was pre-pregnancy. I also breastfed my baby for 9-10 months (exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months).
I didn’t start working out again consistently until my baby was about 7 months old. I wanted to, but at first I wasn’t motivated, then I was too busy (I returned to work when baby was 3 months old). By the time my baby was between 5-7 months, my post partum depression had reached a peak. I certainly didn’t feel like working out at that point. Consequently, I wasn’t feeling very confident about my figure, even if it looked good according to most people’s standards.
But I did start working out again, like I said when my baby was 7 months old. I started off slowly, only 3 days a week with light weights, and I gradually built up to my current (and former) routine of 4-6 days a week, doing cardio and weights (3-10 lbs), and occasionally running outdoors 2.5 to 3 miles at a time. Exercise definitely helped me combat my depression, and coupled with good friends and a supportive & loving husband, I was able to beat depression completely without medication. I now work out consistently as if my life depends on it — because the quality of my life really does depend on it. I feel better, I look better, I’m more emotionally stable, and I have more energy to submit to my family and my friends.
My baby is now 17 months old (I am now 26), and for the most part, I am content with my body right now. I didn’t get any stretch marks, and I felt like I took very good care of myself to avoid excessive weight gain, but also to maintain a healthy diet for my baby. I have worked very hard to get my body back after giving birth, and since I am a perfectionist, I will always have more goals to attain concerning my body. I never got back down to 90 pounds, but I am at 94-95 pounds and I look just as great (possibly even better) than I did pre-pregnancy. Be encouraged – it is possible!
Despite meeting my personal goals, I have battled with my self-image for a long time. For the first few months after weaning, I didn’t like my breasts at all. They were (and still are) so small. I was a perky 32B/34B pre-pregnancy, and with my small frame they were the perfect size for me! While nursing I went up to a beautiful 34C and I loved it! Now, 6 months after weaning my baby, my little pancake breasts hang at a 32A. For a long time I was extremely dissatisfied with them. When I first came across this site about 3 months ago, I was amazed at the gracious self acceptance I saw, and I wanted to be able to say(like many women here) that I love my breasts and that the way they look is a testimony to how I’ve nourished my child. I have never regretted breastfeeding at all, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But I admit that I am a little saddened to see how they look now. I don’t, as other women do, truly consider them a “badge” or “mark” of honor. For a long time I just saw how small and flat they look. I struggled with this daily for several months. I even considered getting plastic surgery to make them perky and just a little bit bigger, but all I ever really wanted was to just accept them and change the way I think about them. My husband has always abhorred the idea of plastic surgery, and he insisted that I was focusing too much on my breasts. He would tell me that I am beautiful and that my breasts nourished our sweet baby, which is what they were always meant to do. He loves my breasts because of that reason. “And besides,” he would tell me, “they work wonderfully for their sexual purposes as well.”
After some self examination, I can finally say that I kind of like my breasts. Sure, I still wish they were perky and a little bit bigger, but I have finally taken a step and at least accepted them. I am glad they are natural and soft flesh, instead of silicone or saline implants. Okay so they’re not my idea of perfect, but I can accept them today, and appreciate them as a gift. I am still on a journey to accepting and loving my body and breasts just the way they are. Part of that journey is to share my story here. I feel like this will help me admit my struggle publicly and I know that this is part of my process of acceptance. Thank you for allowing me to share my story anonymously.
Lastly, here are all current photos of myself, taken at 16 months post-baby.