11 years post-partum and a healthy BMI (Anonymous)

I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and PCOS. I have a healthy BMI. This is my body. Deal with it. I like my stripes. I have a great sex and personal life even as a single Mama.

I’m 34 and I’m okay with this photo being shared. I shared my pubic region especially because a lot of people feel shame abut stretch marks and loose skin there, especially mothers who find themselves dating.


Breastfeeding with Cancer (Valarie)

Originally posted here on Facebook.

Today my son and I overcame a huge obstacle in my breast cancer journey. Today he breastfed for the first time after chemotherapy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 28 weeks pregnant. My cancer was stage 2, grade 3, and triple negative (very aggressive). So, the doctors decided to start chemotherapy while I was pregnant. After 5 cycles of chemo, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I was told I couldn’t breastfeed for weeks after chemo, so I was not allowed to feed him when he was born, and at first I was even told I wouldn’t be able to pump. The lactation consultant at the hospital wouldn’t even come in to see me. I kept asking questions and found a lactation consultant who was willing to do the research on my chemo meds, and find out how long it would take for each med to leave my milk. We later learned that I could breastfeed 10 days after a dose of chemotherapy. I also found out it was safe to pump. So, for 2 1/2 months I pumped and dumped to keep my milk supply, then when I started a chemotherapy with doses every other week instead of weekly, I got to breastfeed 4 days each cycle. Now, finally, after 4 months of pumping 6 times a day, I am able to breastfeed my son. We still face challenges. Radiation will likely dry up my milk on the effected side, but I feel victorious today. This was like taking the power over my body back. I’m the one in control of this one thing. This is something only I can do for my child, and if something happens to me, this is protection and health I can give him that will last the rest of his life.

Please share my story. I wasn’t able to find any information on breastfeeding with chemotherapy on-line. While every situation is different, I hope this will find some women who have been told they can’t breastfeed, and encourage them to keep looking for answers. Find an expert, and if you have the will, you will find a way.


Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

I got this message on Facebook today from a mama. So much strength and love to all of you mamas who are going through this or know someone who has. Lifting you up.

Today October 13th is Metastatic Beast Cancer Awareness Day. I’m a mother. I breastfed 2 children. I have stretch marks and saggy skin. I fight the negative feelings I have when I look in the mirror. I also have breast cancer. I no longer have natural breast but I still have breast cancer. It’s I the nerves of my arm and in my chest. It was all around my lungs. You are in a place to help women fight the negative feelings they have of them selves. You bring awareness to to the natural beauty of a woman’s body. I am wondering if today, you could bring awareness to a disease that kills more than 100 women a day. Less than 10% of funding goes to metastatic breast cancer, yet it kills more than 30% of breast cancer patients. I really hope you can help get this information out. Thank you.

For facts and more information, click here.

Worth it All (Ashley)

~Age: 30
~Number of pregnancies and births: 8 pregnancies- 6 births, 2 miscarriages
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 8,6,5,4,3,2

I don’t even know where to start! I have been coming to this site for so many years…looking through photos and comments, getting the reassurance that I so desperately needed about my body. I am 30 years old and my husband and I have been married for 10 years. After we had been married for 2 years, we had our first child- then had 5 more in the next 5 years lol. I did have 2 miscarriages in the mix, but having a child every year for 6 years really made my body go through so many changes. I gained a lot of weight with each pregnancy…I am 5’4″ and weighed 127 on my wedding day, and 135 before we started having kids… and got up to 200 pounds with most of the pregnancies. I would get into the 140’s between pregnancies only to go right back up! But after my last baby was born 2 years ago, I just worked as hard as I could and now weigh 130, sometimes a few pounds less and sometimes a few pounds more.

I did not know that my last pregnancy would be my last…I wanted more kids. But I got sick. I am disabled now and cannot have anymore. I go to the doctor every 3 weeks, am on a lot of medication, and cannot exercise or work out like I used to. For a year and a half I chronicled my journey as a mom with an illness in my blog. Reading what I have gone through and what I am going through really gives me an amazing perspective about what is really important in life. This new body is hard to adjust to…however, I am SICK and TIRED of caring about my flubby stomach and the extra pounds!! I am fighting to live and enjoy my family, and yet here I am whining because I THINK I look fat!! And maybe I do look fat, but who the heck cares?? Come on now, lol. Seriously, I just need to keep giving myself a good talking-to…because I am an amazing woman! I love my husband, I am a heck of a mom, and I fight hard to live a good life! I have the most beautiful children on earth who tell me a thousand times a day how much they love me. I always let my 5 year old daughter watch me get dressed- and whether I believe it or not I always talk about how beautiful my body and my stomach are. I have some work to do mentally, but while I work on it I am going to make sure my daughter learns that she should complement her body and be proud of every single part of it regardless of how it changes. I AM SO MUCH MORE THEN MY APPEARANCE…and SO ARE YOU.

My husband is the most amazing man I have EVER known. Every single day he tells me how much he loves me, how grateful he is to be married to me, how sexy he thinks I am. He also quit his full time job last year to stay home and take care of me and the kids. I AM A LUCKY WOMAN. He always gets mad when I fuss about my appearance- he cannot believe that I would not like what I see in the mirror. And I understand what he is saying, because so many times I read posts where women hate their bodies- but when I look at them I’m like, “but you look amazing!!” Strange, isn’t it?? Ladies, you are amazing because of who you are- and your body is amazing because it is YOU. Love yourself. Love your body. Love the insanely incredible thing it has done. Complement yourself at least 10 times a day. We are worth so much more then we give ourselves credit.

#1- Me last year
#2- Me last year
#3- Right after my all natural, drug free birth of my last baby- I felt AWESOME after this!
#4- Carrying my 1 year old on my back while apple picking with my kids
#5- Last month when I cut 16″ of my hair off!!
#6- A few weeks ago in Florida with my hubby- ALONE!! I am actually a little heavier there because I ate a lot while we were there lol
#7- I am modest and did not feel comfortable posting a full body shot with no clothes, however I did want you to see my tummy. Pictures can be misleading and clothes can make you look a certain way, which is fine, but this is what my stomach looks like 2 years after having 6 babies. It is wrinkly, thick, and rolls out over my pants lol.
#8- This is me before having any kids.
#9- This is me, my husband, and our 6 kids- taken this past April

Depressed, Disabled New Mommy (Anonymous)

im 20 years old and its my first baby.

ive really never talked to anyone about this is im always scared to. but i dont like how my belly looks. i thank God everyday for my little girl. but i gained about 100lbs with IsaBella. its very ard for me to lose weight because i am disabled… and the father really hasnt shown me much attion so i guess thats why my weight and they way i look gets to me alot i cant fit into any of my clothes i get so down sometimes i just don’t want to move i just want to lay in bed and cry but i know i have to get up and feed her and take care of her. she relies on me. i love being a mom i finilly found my purpose in life is to be a mom. its feels nice to be needed and wanted and to know someone relies on you.

the pics are when i was pregnant and after i had her

Mother of Three (Amerie)

2 pregnancies; 3 children; 3 months PP

I have lived 27 years. I have 3 beautiful children, a 3 year old boy and 12 week old identical twin daughters. I have an adoring, sexy husband whom I love. We have a healthy and whole relationship that makes me proud and happy.

I grew up with severe body issues. I was born with cleft lip and palate. I also had 2 open heart surgeries for a congenital heart defect by the time I was only a year old. I’m no stranger to body insecurity. I am used to being self-conscious and hyper-aware of my scars. After having my son and gaining 51 lbs on my 5 ft. frame during my first pregnancy, I thought my body was destroyed. It took me a full year to lose the weight and another year to get fit and in shape. 3 months after that? I was pregnant again. I went into this pregnancy a little disheartened, thinking that I had just got my body back and it was about the be put through the ringer again. Surprise! I was pregnant with twins! Total and complete shocker. The pregnancy was incredibly hard on my body and my mental faculties. I was put on bed rest at 24 weeks, hospitalized with the flu and pneumonia at 30 weeks, diagnosed with Obstetric Cholestasis at 31 weeks, and finally delivered with an emergency c-section at 35 weeks, 5 days. My body was a wreck. My girls were both in the NICU. *I* was a wreck. Thankfully, they had no issues bar learning to eat on their own, so they were out within a couple weeks.

Obviously, I want my son to treat women well, to hold them in such high esteem and regard and to never make a single one feel shamed for their bodies. But it wasn’t until I had my own daughters that I realized that *I* was going to be responsible for something. Something huge. I will show my baby girls what it means to be a woman. What it means to be self-confident and what it means to really love yourself and the skin you’re in. Or I will show them how to tear themselves and other women down. I will give them the tools to cry while looking at their bodies in the mirror and wishing that what they saw was different. It was all left up to me, completely my choice. I made it without hesitation. My daughters will have a Mother that is strong and capable, one that has embraced herself, ALL of herself. I will teach them how to stand tall and to mean it; and I will speak to them of the absolute importance of uplifting others.

First? I had to begin to walk the walk, so to speak. I have been working towards just that. Clean eating. Healthy living. Working out. Being active. Being better for my children and our family. For myself. I still have a ways to go, as I am only 3 months PP. I also have a 3 inch diastasis recti separation that I’m not sure what to do about at this point. But I’m not really worried about it. I am embracing myself, all of myself. And it feels good. :)

Pictures L-R: 2 months PP and then 3 months PP (before/after with one month of extremely hard workouts and dieting). My beautiful girls. My precious little boy.

The Gift I Took for Granted (Anonymous)

When I was 12 I feel in love with a man, M. He was 18 and did not even know I was alive. But as I grew he finally took notice. When I was 15 he ask me on a date I was over the moon. While on this date his ex shows up and they ended up leaving together. That night changed my life forever. I met my husband who is 3 years older than me. J waited till I was 17 to ask me out and the night after I finished high school we made love for my first time. As a joke I told him he had to marry me and with a straight face said he had every plan to. We moved in together and for 6 weeks it was amazing. Then on 4/14/2000 my entire world crashed. A friend of his from high school knocked on our door and asked me out for lunch. I called J and ask if it was fine. Now I realize the tone of his voice it was not. But I was so tired of being home alone. After lunch S brought me back home and would not leave. I walked in the kitchen to get the phone which he breaks. I keep telling him please do not hurt J. He laughs and next thing I know I am naked laying on our sofa. As he rapes me I watch TV with Rosie O’Donnell with Tom Cruise. When he is done he laughs again and says “If you get pregnant it is not mine.” spits on me and leaves. S calls J at work and tells him that I just cheated on him. J throws me out of our apartment because I can not tell him what happened. I spend the night on the streets barefooted and in just shorts and a tiny shirt. J calls my parents the next day and they come get me. After few months my mom makes me go to the DR. and there on the ultrasound screen is a baby. A big baby. My mom takes me to J at his job and I hand him a photo of the baby. ” Happy Father’s Day.” Turning and walk away. C our son will never know. J is his father no matter what. Today J and C are at the hunting lease and me and our daughter O who is 22 months younger than C watch TV. My family has been though a lot. The loss of another baby between C&O. The loss of O’s twin. Ovarian Cancer. C falling out of a tree and almost dying. J and I almost divorcing because the hate and pain. But I am so lucky to be a Mother to 2 amazing children.

1 Year PP and I Still Disgust Myself (Brittani)

I married my husband on my 18th birthday. A little over a month after our first anniversary, we found out about our oops baby. We had been using condoms, and I guess one failed. We were scared, since we were so young, but excited. I knew my body would change, but I was fairly confident that my belly would bounce right back like everyone said it would because I’m so young. Then I developed preeclempsia. I am 5’7″ and started at 121 lbs before pregnancy, dropped down to 119 right after I got pregnant, and then barely gained 12 lbs in the entire first two trimesters. Then I started jumping up at least 5 lbs a week from water weight with preeclempsia. Nothing I did prevented this, not even the extremely low sodium diet I was put on. When I went to the hospital at 41 weeks to be induced, I weighed 189 lbs. I lost nearly all of the water weight within three months of giving birth. I breastfed/pumped until my milk dried up at 4 months pp, and none of the real weight (all located in my belly and lovehandles) went away. The rest of my body looks the same as it did prepregnancy (aside from the one saggy boob lol), but between my bellybutton and vulva I am stretchmarked, saggy, blobby, and jiggly. It looks gross and makes me a little sick to look at it. My stretchmark color isn’t what bothers me, they’ve faded to a light lavender/pink/silver, it’s the fact that most of them are a 1/4 inch wide, and I even have a few over a 1/2 inch wide. Not long. WIDE. You can physically see the tears in my tissue under the skin. My tummy skin is saggy and floppy and makes me think of Adam Sandler’s tongue belly on Click. My love handles FORCE me to wear mom jeans up to my bellybutton, because anything lower gives me a muffin top of colossal proportions. I can’t wear sexy underwear, because the effect is ruined by all the flab spilling out over the top and my cellulite and stretchmarked butt. I’ve dieted, eaten right, walked, done yoga, and every other exercise I can do without danger to my health (I have exercise induced asthma attacks so I can only do exercises that don’t make you breathe fast or hard). Now my daughter is walking and running, and I’m also chasing her around. Nothing helps. My husband says he loves my body, and tells me I’m beautiful, but I know it’s because he doesn’t want to upset me. He may love me for me, but there is NO WAY to be attracted to my midsection below my bellybutton. I have always been a person who hates clothing, and if given an opportunity I would never wear them, but it’s sad now for me to have to be fearful of wearing certain clothes because they make me look lumpy or gross.

Pregnancy also ruined my health. My immune system is shot. Before I got pregnant, I was the kind of person that got sick maybe once a year. I developed recurrent strep after I had my daughter, and get it at least once a month. I also get recurrent sinus infections, and catch any illness I am or am not exposed to. I exercise regularly, and yet normal everyday activities like getting off the couch and cooking dinner make me out of breath. I am not overweight for my height 5’7 at 132 lbs, but I FEEL fat. Not like the way I look, but the way I feel when trying to move around. Fat and old and unhealthy. I just want to be healthy and pretty again so much that I go on good sob fests probably every week. I can’t afford to go to the doctor to see what is wrong, and I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired. Does this ever end? Will I ever feel like a healthy happy woman again, comfortable in my body?

~Age: 20
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies, 1 birth at 41 weeks. 1 miscarriage at 8 weeks.
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 1 year old

Hating My Body (Anonymous)

2 Births
6 weeks Postpartum

Hey everyone. First of all let me just say I LOVE this website. It helps to see everyone else is struggling with their body image and acceptance just like I am.

I have had 2 awesome kids. I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter and now a 6 week old son. I got ZERO stretch marks with my first pregnancy and with my second ugh!!! I got them in the worst possible place, the ones on my sides I couldn’t care less about, those are never seen and they are expected where they are. The ones on my chest are terrible, they are deep and none of my clothes will work anymore because of how high up they are on my chest. I have a hard time being intimate with my husband and although he wont admit it, I think it bothers him. I had the perfect perky C size breast before my daughter and they were just lovely. I never could have imagined the pancake stretch mark things I have now. I am thinking about a breast lift or augmentation… or both!? I also am considering laser treatment on my stretch marks but right now I am now well so it would be really hard. I am happy about my stomach size though, especially since I am unable to exercise due to a autoimmune disorder I have which causes me to be almost completely bedridden most of the time. I think that’s why I obsess about my body, I am so un-happy about my life. I have to have help with my kids because I cannot take care of them by myself. There is no treatment for what I have either so I am stuck feeling/living this way for God knows how long. Both of my kids were unplanned and we were using birth control as well. I am SO happy I have them though, they truly keep me going and get me through each day. I just wish I could keep the body I had before with the kids I have now… that’s life though.

Updated here.

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. :)