We are ALL beautiful! (Anonymous)

I am 34 years old, and I have had two children. One by home birth and the other in a hospital, both vaginal delivery. Now 9 and 7 years old. Often I have felt guilty about my body. When I am in a room of other moms I often feel ashamed of “looking good”. I don’t subscribe to fad diets, or crazy gym routines. I simply live. I am a BJJ purple belt and it took me 10+ years to get there because being a mom took all of my personal time. This picture makes me feel proud because it is a beautiful piece of lingerie given to me by my husband that actually fits me! Being “small” I have a very hard time finding clothes that fit me. I submit this because I want other moms to know it’s OK to love your body without guilt, even if some women try to shame you for being who you are because they dont feel confident in themselves. We are ALL beautiful! And ps. I am offended when your husband flirts with me, its embarrassing! Stop looking at my body as the cause, It’s his loyalty that is a shame. You don’t know me, you just see my physical form. I am more then an object.


Uba5c Birth Story (Talana)

Hi you all. Here is my birth story… I want you to understand how I got to the decision of homebirth and the feelings I had prior to it. I might bore some of you so please be warned that it’s a long story. Also, if there’s any spelling mistakes or incorrect grammar then I apologise in advance.

A bit of history:
Baby 1 30-05-1995 3.3kg elective caesarean. Doc said she was breach
Baby 2 21-01-2000 4.1kg repeat cs
Baby 3 23-06-2003 3.2kg same story
Baby 4 08-12-2010 3.5kg cs
Baby 5 28-04-2012 3.4kg cs trying for a UB but ended up having cs being 8cm dilated
Baby 6 23-03-2014 3.4kg Unassisted Home Birth

Ok so here goes…

My birth story UBA5C took 18 years in the making. Every one of my beautiful children’s births brought me a little closer to my dream birth. Starting with my first pregnancy…I was young and naïve…believed every word the doctors said…went for every check-up etc. and when they told me I needed a cs I just went along with it.

with my second pregnancy the thought of a natural birth came up but yet again I believed the “trained professionals”…”once a Caesar, always a Caesar”

By nr 3 I had given up on the idea of a natural birth…

Eight years later I met my true love and when we found out I was preggies we were overjoyed. Early on in my fourth pregnancy I decided to try hb. By the first couple of contractions I decided to go to hospital. Stupid hey? Maybe. I don’t know why I didn’t even try harder but maybe I know now that I wasn’t prepared enough. I got a lot of negative feedback from the hospital staff for even getting pregnant after 3cs. Good idea to make someone feel bad when they are vulnerable. I hated every minute being in that hospital.

I got pregnant with baby no 5 and decided to learn as much as I can about vbamc. I went into labour around 07:00 the morning of 27 April 2012. I just knew something was happening. Not to mention the show I had since a week prior. Waiting and wandering when I was going into labour. I actually went for a long brisk walk the day before. Buy now I was 41 weeks and ready to meet this little man.

I didn’t tell anyone that I was in labour and went on with my normal day. I took a nap with my little one and decided to do my shopping trip after our nap…when I woke up something just told me that there’s no way I’m going to be able to do a shopping trip now! Ok so we are low on sugar, low on milk, low on cereal… whatever! It can wait!

Long story short… by midnight the pain was more than I could take (or thought I could take) so hubby and I went to hospital.

At the hospital I was told to “lie down and wait”. Lie down? Are u insane?! Well I listened and lied on my back too scared to move. The contractions were unbearable and I was about 8cm when my waters ruptured. Lol they still made me sign a form to give them permission to insert the loop. Lucky for me I was too far dilated, they said. Oh and not to have ANY more babies…go figure…

July of 2013 I found out I was pregnant…again…yes..you would think we were going at it like rabbits but that’s not so…remember…it only takes once. And oh boy! Once was spot on!!! It was quite a pleasant shock. Hubby said it was an old test and I said: “feel it, it’s wet, I just peed on it!” that was like the 3rd test I did that night lol!

I KNEW I was going to have my HB. I did LOTS of research, (not that there was much info on uba5c/hba5c/vba5c). I spoke to, emailed and “facebooked” lots of people. Majority of them telling me it’s too high risk. (Even a well-known doctor told me it’s too high risk…imagine I listened to him. Note so self: email him my birth story…)

I came in contact with an awesome doula (Heidi). The first time I spoke to her her voice was peaceful and reassuring. I think by that time she had more faith in me and my body than what I had. We kept in contact all through my pregnancy and tried on a couple of occasions to meet up. 8 days before Kydans birth we eventually got to meet…and come to think of it we almost postponed that appointment too!

In the last couple of weeks the fear of uterine rupture stuck its ugly head out again. I was starting to doubt that my body was able to birth this baby. Maybe it was also due to the fact that I had to bury both my parents within 42 days of each other…

I had a difficult time enjoying the last 2 months of my pregnancy because of this loss and an impending move.I prayed that things would work out…not the way I wanted it to work out but the way it God wanted it to be. When I did that I started to feel more at peace and I felt more positive that my body would do what it was designed to do.

Fears will always be in the back of your mind. But you deal with them and make peace with it. Then and only then I was ready for this beautiful birth.

Because we were moving I sent all my baby goodies to the new house with hubby…he still made a joke that I’m sending all the stuff to the other house…”what if baby comes at the old house?” I told him not to worry and that baby will only come mid-April. Haha!

Friday 21 march was the beginning of a long weekend. My doula still asked whether it would be okay if she went away for the weekend and I said “Sure” …she had nothing to worry about…
I woke up 11:59pm Friday night with a huge pee. Wiped off and saw what I thought was too much blood. Hubby walked passed and I told him I was in labour. His response: “ye right, don’t joke now”. I phoned Heidi and she said not to worry it’s just a show. She told me to get some rest and thank heavens I listened to her. She phoned me early the next morning and said she was making the 5 hour trip back home and I should rest. I do apologise again for cutting her family’s long weekend short. Xxx

I had contractions most of the morning and early afternoon, trying to relax and watch TV. Everything was now on hold(remember this was our moving weekend). Thinking that baby will come quickly I just lounged around. When Heidi came over around late afternoon the contractions were still far apart. We went for a long walk with pram in tow. We walked passed a car with a little sicker saying “don’t push” on the window…funny!

After the walk we contemplated whether she should go home and come back later. That thought didn’t last long as things started kicking up a notch. Heidi and my 10 year old son were timing contractions and later on I got a bit fed up telling them when contractions started and stop. So I stopped doing it. Hubby was handling the move and the two little ones.
I didn’t want to see how long and far apart the contractions were as I was worried that I would lose focus. PS. Dirty spot on tile floor is good to focus on when in contraction. Lol. Note to self: floors needs a wash.

Late evening I decided to lean on the side of my bed when a contraction came. That only helped for a little while and I got into the shower…Oh boy! The water felt amazing. It took the pain away in an instant. Some counter pressure also helped quite a bit. Not wanting to waste the water that I needed for the bath, I decided to try my bed again.

We decided to fill the bath. I couldn’t wait for the bathwater to be ready! I was looking forward to just lying in the bath. I was in the bath for around 3 or 4 hours and we had to top up the hot water a couple of times. I had gotten a nice position in the bath on my left side with my right arm hanging over the taps and my legs straight down. So when a contraction came I could anchor myself nicely against the side of the bath pushing with my feet against the bottom of the bath.

With every contraction I tapped on the side of the bathe and Heidi knew that I had to squeeze her hand. By the end when the contractions were quite painful I was worried that I would break her fingers.

I got out of the bath to pee at one point but couldn’t hold myself up lol I felt like 2 tons of bricks so she and hubby helped me. I think it was of lying in the bath so long being weightless that I couldn’t carry my own weight. At some point I felt some trickle like my water braking but it didn’t last long and so I just ignored it. My contractions also starting changing to more of a pushing feeling or like a feeling that to poo. Shame my ten year old was lying on his pillow outside the bathroom door for ages, waiting for this baby to make its appearance. Thank you u sweetheart for caring. Xxx I sent him to bed a little after that.

Something just told me to get out of the bath so off to my bed I went. At this stage hubby was lying down with my 3yr old because he was a little antsy and running on all 6 cylinders. Maybe because he could feel the energy in the house changing. He is still on the boob and so badly wanted “milky”. I felt so bad not being in the mood to breastfeed him but really…I couldn’t concentrate on breastfeeding and coping with contractions.

I got on my knees on my bed with the pillows propped under my chest. I started getting shivers and felt I needed to get back to the warmth of the bath because if I started shivering I would not be able to concentrate on the contractions and my breathing. Lol halfway off the bed I got a contraction and it stopped me right in my tracks. I was freezing even though I had a pyjama shirt on. Doula got me warmed up and I got back on my bed..bath forgotten.

Soon I needed to change positions and as I reversed of my bed on all fours a gush of water just squirted out onto poor Heidi. So she’s been baptised in amniotic fluid. (Oops!) I think that was the last of the waters coming out that was lodged in front of babies head.

Okay now I’ve gotten myself leaning with my back against my headboard and pillows under my backside. Not in a laying position…more of a squatting position as I am terrified of lying on my back in labour. (remember the “lie down and wait” saga with my 5th baby) And as you know lying on your back does zero favours for gravity.

Every time I had to push I curled my fingers around the top of the headboard giving me an anchor to push. That helped quite a bit.

Around 03:00/03:30 doula woke hubby and the three of us sat there pushing…well I pushed and they watched! By the last push doula said in a stern voice: “nou moet jy druk Talana!!!” …”push Talana!!!” Oh boy did I PUSH PUSH PUSH!!! Bubbas head was out and not waiting for the next contraction I gave a little more push and he was out! 04:15 giving a nice loud cry for his debut into this world. I was crying too. Tears of joy, accomplishment, love…
Somewhere in that last push I was waiting for the “ring of fire”…where was it? I had a little burning sensation but not as I anticipated. Yay! I eluded the “RING OF FIRE!” (Happy dance) I got baby on my bare chest and he starting nursing like a grown man with a hangover.
I was waiting for the next contraction to deliver the placenta but that didn’t come. If this placenta doesn’t come I would have to go to hospital. HOSPITAL??? No way!!! There was no way I was going to hospital to deliver a placenta!!!with the help off hubby and doula I got myself and bubba off the bed and squatted over the container and just pushed. Thank goodness it came out, intact, I was so relieved. There was still some bleeding but that was from the tear, not a very big tear but it was there.

When the cord stopped pulsating and it was limp and white hubby tied the cord with dental floss and cut it with a scissor…a blunt one!!! (oops, my bad…only scissor I had)
Hubby was so proud of me…I was so proud of me!

He made tea and him and doula cleaned up. Shame she still had a 40 minute drive home. Hubby went to lie by the other kids and bubba and I had skin to skin and was nursing and sleeping and he pood on me sometime when we were dosing off but that didn’t worry me. I got up Sunday morning around 9:30 and was a little light headed when I got to my feet but I was feeling amazing and I was on a God given natural high. I couldn’t believe how good I felt and by late morning I was already on our trampoline with my other little ones! My high lasted for days and days after the birth.

I kept my placenta. I made some placenta prints with it. Cleaned it up, chopped it up and froze it. I swallow one “booster” every day.
You don’t need much for a homebirth…just a pregnant woman!
My hb kit wasn’t even complete yet but I managed perfectly with what I had. The only things i used from my incomplete kit was:
About 7 towels (I ended up throwing one away)
2 sheets
2 receiving blankets
Container for placenta
Dental floss
All of which I already had in my home except for the gloves.

Now 7 weeks later…hindsight…
You won’t believe how different this birth was in relation to my cs. From the recovery to the way I feel about myself, the birth, the baby…everything…different…
Kydan’s umbilical cord came off by day 5 (the other kiddies by day 10) and I think it was a lot to do with the delayed cord clamping. My tear healed within 2 weeks without any stitches and everything looks perfect down there. (tmi?) The light headedness only lasted around 3 days.

7 Weeks later I still feel very proud and in awe of this beautiful amazing empowering experience I was blessed with.

Thank you so much for reading my birth story and please share my story with those who you think might need the encouragement, understanding or those who are just nosy…xxx
My UBA5C was the most empowering thing I’ve done in my whole life…I DID IT!!!

Stretch Marks and All (limiwa)

Age: 27
Pregnancies: 3 (miscarried 2nd pregnancy at 10 weeks)
Births: 2
Children: boy 8 years, girl 3 years

I just found this site a few weeks ago, and have found such comfort in the stories and pictures I have read and seen so far. Every woman has a story to tell, each as important and resonant as the last.
This is mine.

My body image issues started around the time I turned 15. It was then that a long buried secret had come to the surface of my life. For a time during my adolescent years, my uncle (by marriage) had molested and sexually assaulted me. Although the abuse had finally stopped, the shameful memory of it remained. During a time when my body was changing rapidly, the truth of the past at last came out. When I looked in the mirror I saw only an object that a man would lust after, it terrified and disgusted me. There was nothing wrong with my body at that time. I was at an ideal weight and had a nice figure, but still I hated it. My butt was too big, my boobs too small…etc, etc. I think in reality what I hated more than the actual appearance of my body was what my body had been through, what it now represented to me. It was like his fingerprints were all over me. I wavered constantly between feeling good about myself and feeling very, very low.

Not long after my “confession” my parents separated and later divorced. With an absentee father and a depressed mother, I found solace in a close male friend who later became my boyfriend. Little wonder that I became pregnant at age 18 by the same boy. I married that boy two weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Despite the ups and downs of those first few years together, it has certainly been a blessing in disguise. We just celebrated out 9th wedding anniversary and our relationship has never been better. He is a wonderful husband and father who is still my very best friend.

During my first pregnancy I was so clueless as to what it took to grow a healthy baby. I ate pretty much whatever I wanted, both good food and not so good food. I did exercise during the 2nd and part of the 3rd trimester, which helped to control my weight gain a little. I slathered on the cocoa butter religiously – to no avail. Before getting pregnant I weighed 125lbs (I’m 5’5”). Just hours before giving birth I weighed in at 168. My pregnancy went smoothly, as did my 16 hour labor and vaginal delivery. (With no drugs! Yikes! Now THAT was painful.) I never looked in the mirror or weighed myself the entire time I was preggo, however, I still felt enormous and I didn’t entirely enjoy being pregnant. It was quite a shock to see this red, floppy tummy at the hospital after giving birth.

When I came home I knew there was no way I would fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, but I wanted to try it, just to see…I couldn’t even get my jeans past my knees! A week postpartum I weighed 150lbs and felt so terribly fat. After that I made myself stop thinking about it (I’m quite good at putting things out of my mind when I want to), and tried my best to focus on this new precious baby boy in my life. It was always there though, this nagging thought in the back of my mind telling me, “You’re ugly now. You’re all used up. And you hated yourself before! What are you going to do now?” It was (and still is sometimes) this scary, unsettling feeling. The only perk was the boobs! Lol. I finally had the chest I’d always wanted, but unfortunately nothing else remained of the body I used to have. Stretch marks covered my belly, my hips, and the tops of my thighs, angry and red. My butt and thighs had ballooned and I had no waist to speak of.

By the time my son was 6 months old the stretch marks had faded and most of the weight had come off. I decided that a serious exercise program was in order to tone my squishy body back up. Three months into it and I had lost the last 10lbs, bringing me to within 5lbs of my pre-baby weight. Although I was back around my “normal” body size, things didn’t look the same. The texture of my skin is forever damaged, never again to be smooth and seamless. My boobs are like empty, saggy sacks. A scar that runs the length of my stomach from a previous surgery at age 12, was also stretched. The pressure of the extra weigh gave my some spider veins and cellulite. I managed to get my body back though (for the most part), and feel a measure of confidence and acceptance, at least clothed. I could never regret the birth of my children no matter what the damage to my body :)

Nearly 5 years after having my son, I gave birth to my daughter. This time around I was smarter with what and how much I ate, and even exercised up until a few days before giving birth. Instead of the 40+ pounds I put on with my son, I gained a mere 25. Through out the pregnancy I felt glowing and lovely (Me! Imagine!). It was easier this time to appreciate my body for the wonderful thing it was doing rather than loathing it for getting bigger. Knowing my body better this time around, I decided to have the baby at home. It was an amazing experience! The atmosphere was calm, all my family was able to be there and I felt relaxed. After only 6 hours on intense labor and 10 minutes of pushing (thank goodness for all those tummy exercises!), out came my beautiful baby girl.

Surprisingly, my body bounced back even faster the second time. By the time my daughter was 4 months old I was back in my regular jeans. She is now 3 ½ years old and I’m actually 10lbs lighter than before I got pregnant with her. The only thing I can chock it up to is good nutrition, regular exercise and natural whole food supplements, which has helped my body to be in balance.

Still, I struggle at times. I’m sure many women, after looking over my photos, will roll their eyes and cluck to themselves, “Oh, please…”. And for the most part you’d be right. I realize that things could be so much worse (Can’t they always be?) and I should just be grateful for a healthy, functioning body that gave me two amazing kiddos and managed to come out of it okay. Only when I look at my super skinny friends who’ve also had kids (granted only one child each), who hardly have a single stretch mark to speak of, I feel a little robbed, cheated of a nice body at such a young age. Of course, no one else sees it this way, especially my husband who has always thought the world of me. He sees a goddess, and I only wish I could see myself through his eyes. It’s those past feelings that linger, the ones that tell me I’m shameful and worthless, a constant mental roadblock I fight to overcome. I may be able to ignore it for a time, then I’ll get a glimpse of myself in the mirror at the wrong time of the month and the negative feelings come rushing in on me.

Interestingly, I can look the pictures of all you lovely women and think to myself, “Aww, that’s not so bad, she looks great!” But it’s harder to be objective with myself. Having a daughter now, I’m so afraid of passing along these body hang ups to her. I don’t want her to ever criticize her body the way I find myself doing of mine. I want her to feel strong, beautiful and confidant. Although I don’t ever put myself down in front of her or my son, it’s still a near constant mental dialogue.

It has been, and probably will continue to be for some time, a battle to love myself 100%. I have my good days where I can wear something and feel extremely sexy, and other days I would rather be almost anyone else but me. The journey seems never ending, but I am determined to make progress, to take care of myself, to treat my body — stretch marks and all — as a vessel worthy of respect and awe whether or not I actually believe it yet.

Thank you for reading, I know it was long!

**The 1st two pictures are recent ones of me – don’t let the push-up bra fool you! ;)
The others are more close ups of my stretch marks (sorry for the low quality, these were taken with a camera phone)
It’s not really clear in the pictures, but I do have stretch marks all along my hips running down to the tops of my thighs, plus ones below my belly button. Yes, they’ve faded, but they’re fairly deep and thick so the long cracks of them remain. They look far worse in the flesh!

Learning to Be (Anonymous)

My story starts in high school when I first started (unknowingly) with anorexia for a couple years. Fast forward to age 21. I got pregnant with my first. I was a healthy weight and honestly didn’t think about weight at that point in my life. I had a healthy baby girl that I had at home. I was happy and ate A LOT! I gained about 20lbs between my first and my second daughter. When I was 25 I was pregnant with my second daughter. Again, it was a beautiful homebirth. She was 10 pounds and did a number to my body! I got a lot of stretch marks but I was ok with it for the most part. At this point I thought I was done having my kids. I had 2 amazing daughters. After my second was born all I did was eat! My weight skyrocketed to 170lbs! I had gotten family vacation pictures back and realized just how heavy and out of shape I was so I decided to do something about it. I dieted. I was good at it! I lived at the gym and counted every morsel of calories that went in to my mouth. In that time I divorced my husband and kept on losing, and losing and losing….. another bout with anorexia. I thought I had in under control but no matter how thin I got I always felt I could be thinner. About 4 years after I divorced I reconnected with an old friend and we fell in love. He is an amazing man. I was upfront from the beginning that I struggled with anorexia and he supported me no questions asked. We were married a year later and in that time I had gotten very sick. I could barely walk and function as human. I was not the mother I wanted to be. My wedding day I weighed a mere 100lbs and I’m 5’10”. I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to walk down the aisle I was so weak. Not only did I vow to love my husband through richer or poorer, I vowed to be there in sickness and in health and I promised I would get healthy again. The week after my honeymoon I did just that. It was the worst, hardest experience of my life. I gained 40lbs in just 1.5 months. Over the course of the next 6 months I gained another 10. I was miserable and depressed but in that time we realized something, we wanted a baby of our own. 3 days after deciding we were pregnant. It was a miracle because doctors weren’t sure if I could have kids again. 9 months and 30lbs later we had a 8lb 12oz baby girl at home.

I’ve been struggling with old habits. I’m trying to lose the baby weight the healthy way. I struggle with body image. By 8 weeks I had lost all the baby weight (30lbs) and now at 13 weeks postpartum I am 6 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight. I still feel like I have a ways to go but I am learning acceptance and love for my body. It’s got stretch marks and my belly is a pile of loose skin. My boobs are huge and uncomfortable and my butt is nothing but cellulite but you know what? I’m ok with it. I have a loving husband and 3 amazingly beautiful daughters. I have been blessed in this life. I have lived through anorexia and I can now be a positive role model for my girls.

Pregnancy is a trip and what it does to your body is an even bigger trip but it’s a small price to pay for what you get out of it!

Age: 36
Number of births: 3 homebirths
Age of children: 14, 10, 3 months

1st picture: after 2 pregnancies anorexic but still kind of healthy
2nd picure: 9 months pregnant with 3rd daughter
3rd picture: 13 weeks postpartum

My Body (Stephanie)

I have a love hate relationship with my body. I was obese or morbidly obese pretty much all my life, since the time I was 11. At least my mother kept telling me I was fat from that point on. I just lived up to her expectations I guess.

I took surgical measures to finally lose weight and lost 150 pounds and counting. I’ve weighed as much as 325 pounds and as little as 165 pounds. I’m 180 pounds and hoping to get to 150 pounds.

My body has carried 9 children within it, but only 8 survived.

My body has been sliced open to give birth once, and then I took control to give birth 7 more times without surgery. 6 of those births were in the comfort of my own home.

My body has nourished or tried to nourish all of my babies through my now saggy breasts.

My body has been ridiculed and adored. It has been loved and it has been hated. My body provides a safe place for my children to cuddle up on. In the future I hope my body will provide a safe place for other people’s children as a foster parent.

I may not have smooth skin, washboard abs, or perky breasts, but my body has a story because it’s been on a journey and that journey has really only begun.

~Age: I am 36 (1975 birth year)
~Number of pregnancies and births: 9 pregnancies, 1 miscarriage, 1 c/s, 1 hospital VBAC, 5 Unassisted Water Births, 1 Unassisted Home Birth.
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are:
G-12, G-11, B-9, B-8, B-6, G-5, B-3, G-1

I Finally Feel Sexy Again (Babs)

Original entries here, here, here and here.

This was my fourth pregnancy and birth, and both were extremely difficult. I suffered with moderate hyperemesis gravaridum throughout (helpHER.org), lost a significant amount of weight, muscle and nutrients and was on the edge of hospitalization and IV feeds throughout (even with extensive medicating). I also suffer with a spinal disease called ankylosing spondylitis which caused my vertebrae to fuse together from my coccyx up to my mid-back; it also causes very painful nerve damage in my hip joints and legs due to those bundles of nerves being trapped in the fusions.

The way my body changed over the course of this pregnancy felt very different than the other times: I was tired, and in a lot of pain and very sick. Toward the end I was mostly bedridden and had to push myself hard to get in a short walk a few times a week. I felt like I was falling apart, and was beginning to really hate my body: it was big and awkward, desperately sick and so, so painful. Through the last months of pregnancy I had to walk with a cane, which left me feeling very self-conscious and extremely unattractive. I felt like this pregnancy had stripped me of my femininity and sex appeal… and for the first time in my life, even with a disability diagnosis for years, I really felt disabled. On top of that, I’d had a relapse of an eating disorder shortly before becoming pregnant and was struggling hard with maintaining positive body image even before all that crap. As a result of that, I requested to not be weighed throughout my pregnancy, nor have weight used as a judgment of my health since it was such a fresh trigger. (Numbers alone are not a good, accurate diagnostic tool: your health is a big picture, and can’t be judged by a flawed BMI calculator or tiny range of “healthy pounds”. Big or small, your overall health is what is important to take care of and there is so much more to it than standing on a scale! Even with the diagnosis of hyperemesis, being weighed on a regular basis was not necessary to monitor my health and nutrition. You may have to argue with your care provider a little, but if scales and numbers are a trigger for you during pregnancy, you CAN avoid them so you can stay strong and supported).

Just three days ago now, 9 days past my due date, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. My hard and fast (two hour!) labour was very difficult with the spinal fusions, and very painful, but I made it through with the wonderful support of my midwife, doula and my husband. With their love and care I was able to achieve a second home VBAC, even with my disabilities. I have to say, waterbirth helps a TON for moms with chronic pain, or spinal disabilities!! I don’t now if I’d have been able to do it without the pool.

The night after giving birth I was laying in bed with my husband watching TV shows on my laptop with our new baby sleeping between us. I was laying there, mostly naked, and looked down over my new postpartum body all squishy and deflated and realized that… I felt really good. More than that, I felt sexy! This pregnancy that was so hard on my body and made me feel stripped bare, this birth that was so hard to get through and had me screaming at the top of my lungs, they’ve both been such huge challenges but by making it out the other side I feel strong and capable and SEXY! When I went out in public earlier I didn’t feel like sucking in my stomach and hiding my middle in loose-fitting clothes. I even went out wearing a form-fitting top, proudly showing off my squishy new postpartum body so I can proclaim to everyone, “THIS is beautiful!”. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to look at my body in such a truly positive way. Even with a disability, with a history of struggling with an eating disorder, with severe illness and a very hard year that left me with a very changed body… I can be sensual and feminine and amazing. Four babies have passed through this body and left their footprints on it with stretch marks, cesarean scars, milky breasts, love handles, cellulite and weight gain… but today, just three days postpartum after my fourth birth, I feel sexier than I ever have.

I’ve posted to this site before, several times, but I never thought I’d ever have the guts to submit any images of myself fully nude. Even while I took these images through pregnancy, hoping that I’d eventually find the courage to submit (anonymously, maybe with my head cut off and my tattoo obscured! PS. that’s why my head is cut off in a bunch of these!) I didn’t really believe I’d be able to, so it brings me a lot of joy to post these (albeit still a little nervous…) and say, “I FEEL GREAT!”. Now I feel like encouraging everyone to do the same thing. Take pictures of your body, and not just any old pictures – put aside some time and experiment with taking some really nice photos. Go get some boudoir photos done if you don’t want to or can’t take your own, but whatever you do don’t neglect capturing some of your beauty… even if you feel crappy about yourself.

Despite I felt like absolute hell and hating my body through most of my pregnancy, I’m really grateful to myself that I pushed through to document my changes. I think it’s in us all to learn how to appreciate how amazing our bodies are in all their power. Just look at the incredible things they can do! Thanks to this site I found the motivation to nurture that, and I’m really glad I stuck to it.

(As a note: I’m a professional photographer, so these were taken by me with professional gear. Even though you can’t see them very well there are stretch marks and scars there, though I don’t have the type of genes that get a lot. Good quality, even lighting makes a big difference in how your skin appears in pictures. For anyone curious to experiment with their own lighting, I included a “behind the scenes” photo to show how everything was set up to take these. I used a Nikon SB800 flash mounted on a stand with a home-made beauty dish made out of a planter and some spare parts for about $12 total (instructions here: https://davidtejada.blogspot.com/2008/04/beauty-dish-for-sb-800.html), and a desk lamp pointed at the corner of the wall behind me to reduce some of the shadows. From there just experiment with the settings until you find something that looks good! I triggered my light with a radio controlled device called a Pocket Wizard, but you can just use a sync cord or one of many other inexpensive options and get the exact same results. You also don’t have to use a big fancy flash either, any will work including the cheap Vivitar 285V which runs about $90. :)

What a Mother of Six Really Looks Like (Erykah)

After I had my son in 1999 I felt ruined. I had never witnessed a postpartum stomach that looked like mine and being that I was only 21 years old, I was sure that I was beyond repair unless I had a tummy tuck. And then I had twins and my sense of “ruined” hit me ten fold. My husband assured me that I was beautiful and that I should be proud of my stomach as it was the “house that grew my twins.” We proceeded to have four children in five years including the twins. My stomach has gotten progressively worse over the years. I now have diastasis recti and six wonderful kids. I know that for my health and the preservation of my back muscles, a tummy tuck is in my future. But to be honest even without the diastis, I would still probably opt for a tummy tuck not for shame but because I miss what I used to look like.

~Age: 33
~Number of pregnancies and births: Five Pregnancies, Five Births
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 12 years old, 9 years old (non biological), 4.5 years old twins, 2.5 year old and 9 months old. Bikini Picture: 8 months pregnant with number 5; hospital gown 39 weeks 4 day pregnant with twins; outdoor/black shirt picture 40 weeks pregnant with number six.
~I have had two c-sections (1999 and 2006), a hospital VBA2C (2008) and a homebirth (2010)

6 Months Postpartum and Still Healing (Jillyn)

I am posting my postpartum pictures here of my body after my second pregnancy. My previous post is here.

This pregnancy came a bit unexpected for my husband and I. After the birth and death of our first daughter we planned to wait a year before TTC again. But just 6 months postpartum we found out i was expecting again. By 6 months PP i hadn’t lost any of my pregnancy weight and I actually gained a bit. I believe i started my second pregnancy at around 215lbs (i am 5’5″). The pregnancy was an emotional time for me because i was still trying to deal with the emotions and grief of loosing our first daughter. We tried to keep things as peaceful as we were able. We had a midwife for the pregnancy and planned a homebirth.

I delivered our second daughter at 41 weeks and 2 days. Everything went wonderful and we have a very happy and healthy 6 month old (she was 7lbs and 20″ long at birth). I’ve still been struggling with my emotions this postpartum and i’m trying not to slip into depression but sometimes it’s hard, especially with a very high needs baby (most would say she had Colic). But there are many good times and she is such a blessing in our life. Our “rainbow” baby :)

The day i went into labor i weighed 250lbs and a couple weeks postpartum i believe i was around 230lbs. I’ve struggled with accepting my new body but i don’t 100% hate it. I hate how much my belly and hips droop with extra skin, but other than that i’m not too upset. I actually like my stretch marks and i think they are pretty cool (i thought they were cool before as well). One thing that i thought was neat was when i was pregnant with our first daughter i got stretch marks and they started to heal and were more white. Then when i started to stretch more at the end of this pregnancy you could see where my old stretch marks ended (from first DD) and my new ones began. The day i took these postpartum pictures (6 months) i weighed myself and i was 213lbs (and at 6.5 months PP i’m 208lbs!).

The pictures i posted are from 6 months postpartum. I tried to take pictures of all the changes. I included pictures of my worst stretch marks, ones inside my thighs. I have one on each side and they actually split so bad that sometimes they bled and i wasn’t able to walk properly. Even now one of them still splits sometimes (as you can see in the photo). Of course they were much bigger during the pregnancy (about 1/2″ wide and 3-4″ long!). I also took a close up shot of my stretch marks on my belly. And I included a couple pictures from at the end of my pregnancy :)

~Age: 23
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies, 2 births, both vaginal
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: First DD died after birth, Second DD is 6.5 months. Pictures taken when i was 6 months PP.

25 Year Old Mom of 2 (Emma)

Being pregnant is one of the most beautiful experiences a woman can ever experience. I never felt more feminine as I did when I was pregnant and expecting. and, nurturing my child after-wards by breastfeeding, I’m curvier than I was pre-pregnancy (with both) – I had a home birth with my second, and it was one of the most wonderful experiences i’ve ever had in my life! I can’t wait to do it again.

I also wanted to include, that there was a huge age gap between my children due to struggling with infertility for years before finally conceiving our second baby.

~Age: 25
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: almost 7 years, and 11 weeks at time of entry.

Photos are between 4 days and 8 weeks postpartum.

6 Babies, 5 C-Sections, 4 Daughters, 3 TOL’s, 2 Son’s, 1 Love (Stacy)

Previous entries here, here and here.

My last posting this past summer was very freeing for me. I loved the photos, and for the first time really saw beauty in my imperfect body. I feel strong, and continue to grow in inner and outer strength. These photos were taken at our local hot springs & a then there are a couple of family photos. I love this website… and life :-)

~Age: 30
~Number of pregnancies and births: 6
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 12, 7, 5, 4, 3, 23mo– 23 mo PP