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 (, 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:, 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 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

I Feel Deformed (Sarah)

Age- 29
Number of Pregnancies – 3
Number of Births- 2
Daughter 3 years, son 1 year

I can’t quite remember what I thought my post pregnancy body would look like…. but I can remember not thinking it would look like this.

I gave birth to my daughter On September 1st 2007 by emergency c-section. She was breech and the waited until I was fully dilated to tell me. I had imagined the perfect drug-free birth and that was taken from me. I had to come to terms with that and I needed some major healing. I also suffered from a severe case of post partum depression. I can clearly remember, as my belly started to shrink (which happened very quickly), asking people if what I had was normal. Too many people said they had never seen a belly like mine, no one could answer as to whether or not it would go away. Well, it never did. I was left with a pooch of skin hanging over my pants and extra skin everywhere. It only got worse after I had my son July 29th 2009. He was a successful VBAC and for that I was happy but the saggy skin was still left behind, another scar on my “mother’s body”. Both pregnancies I was fairly heavy (around 170lbs) and post pregnancy I am down to 155lbs. I recently consulted a plastic surgeon to see if I could have surgery done to correct it and I was rejected because it wasn’t sever enough. I am 29, and now single, the mother of 2 young children and I feel deformed, unattractive. How can anyone love me if I can’t love myself? This site has helped me a lot to realize I am not alone with this problem and I hope that this entry can help someone else.

Mother of 6: Story and Photos UPDATE (Stacy)

Previous entries here and here.

~Age: 29
~Number of pregnancies and births: 6
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 11, 7, 5, 4, 2, 18 months

I have come along way in my acceptance of myself as a vibrant, powerful human with a purpose. I have discovered that purpose is to love myself, and others. My body acting merely as an expression of that love, marred by marks, like nails through the palms, to indicate sacrifice and willingness. I love what I have been given so much, that I have no choice but to express it in every way possible; including being comfortable enough in my own skin to expose it.

Updated here.

Happy in My Skin (Ziona)

I have given birth twice so far, once by c-section, and once vaginally. My youngest is 10 months old now, and I’m finally starting to feel happier in my new skin. I have stretch marks, cellulite, sagging breasts, bags under my eyes, and the c-section “flap”. I will probably start a dance exercise program (Zumba anyone?) because I still feel the urge to tone. But my stretched out belly is still beautiful, as my son can attest when he chooses to cuddle with it instead of his daddy. I still feel beautiful all over, because the most precious thing in my life considers me to be the end all of awesome! How can I feel bad about myself when someone so perfect thinks I’m the best EVER?? I honestly can’t. And I breastfeed, so while my breasts are no longer perky, they sustain my precious child and give him comfort. He spends hours a day coming over to me and begging for a sip or a snuggle, and it makes me feel great to be so wanted and needed, regardless of whether other people think I’m too fat.

I’m hoping to be a surrogate this year, so I think I’ll do an update if it’s successful on how I’m feeling about my body after giving someone who can’t have children the gift of life! I’m so excited!

~Age: 22
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 and 2
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 10 months

This one’s for my daughters! (Sarah)

After years of believing that my belly had to be flat and washboard perfect, I finally came to terms with the fact that washboard isn’t normal. It’s not normal for women to look like that, especially after they’ve had children.

Bodies during and after pregnancy are beautiful! Embracing the Goddess Within has been a long time coming with me, but…I’m ready. I’ve always been so nervous about anyone seeing my belly, but…this one’s for my daughters, so…here goes.

I’m 39 years old. I’ve had 4 children. My first daughter was 18 years ago, via c-section. My next daughter was 15 years ago, and a VBAC. My son is 3 1/2, a VBAC, and my daughter just turned two years old (VBAC as well).

I am a breastfeeding mother, and have been nursing now for 3 1/2 years, tandemed for 10 months. I don’t think my boobs have gotten saggy at all. They’re a bit smaller than they were in my 20’s, but with breastfeeding, I finally have those sticky out nipples that I always wanted! No more flat ones for me. Bonus! :)

Age: 39
Years postpartum: 2
Ages of Children: 18, 15, 3, 2
Number of Pregnancies: 11 (7 miscarriages) Number of Births:4

So insecure about my body! Trying to accept it, but it’s not easy! (Anonymous)

4 months postpartum
4 pregnancies, 3 births(1 miscarriage) (I have a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 4 month old)

I was 17 when I became pregnant with my first child and I weighed 100 pounds. I was tiny. When I delivered him I weighed in at 140 pounds. By the time he was 3 months old, I was back down to 100 pounds. I didn’t do anything, I just dropped the weight like that. When I got pregnant with my daughter when my son had just turned 1, I assumed I would be the same way again. I gained a lot of weight with her. I delivered her by emergency c-section at 165 pounds. I have never really lost the weight since then. I got down to 155 pounds, but that’s it. My stomach hangs over the c-section scar and I hate it. No matter what I do, it won’t go away. Right after my daughter turned 2, I got pregnant again. At 13 weeks, I miscarried. Got pregnant again about 2 months later and delivered my second daughter in December. I only gained 15 pounds with that pregnancy, weighing in at 170 when I delivered her. I am breastfeeding her, and I lost all the pregnancy weight within 2 weeks…was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight of 155. But I just can’t get under that, it seems. I guess it could be worse. I just don’t feel pretty anymore. I used to be so tiny and now I can’t wear any cute clothes because my stomach hangs out and looks gross. I just want to be able to accept the way I look :-(

Size 16 Mom of 2 (Jen)

~Your Age: 26
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies, 2 births
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 8 months pp
~Any key words (second pregnancy, plus sized mom, cesarean, etc): cesarean, VBAC, plus sized, second pregnancy, Hypoplasia, IGT

I have 2 children. They are 19 months apart. The youngest is 8.5 months old in these pictures. I started this pregnancy at 206lbs and now weigh 203lbs. I gained 26.5lbs but lost most of it within 3months. My body however, is not looking the same even though I am lighter now than I was when I got pregnant. I look bigger still even though the scale says I am smaller. I had a c/section with my oldest for “failure to progress” since I didnt know any better at the time. I had a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after c/section) with my youngest…which took a HUGE weight off my chest. My body WAS capable of doing it! I wasnt “broken”!

I currently weigh 203lbs and am a size 16. I started working out 3.5 months ago and was a size 18 and 210lbs. I run 3.5-4 miles at a time, 4-5 days a week and do strength training 4-5 days a week as well. My calorie limit is 1700 a day. It is so frustrating to be doing all this and STILL look like I do. I hate the way I look. I hate the fat overhang that I have. I hate the back fat. I hate the fact that from the side, my boobs and belly fall in one straight line.

I was always active and thin…then I gained a bunch of weight during a stressful time in my life…got pregnant before losing any of it and then got pregnant again when my oldest was only 10 months. I refuse to be in pictures anymore. I just want to cry when I see them, so whats the point?

I hate the way I look. and I hate my stupid, deformed breasts. Not only at they ugly and small, but they dont even work! I am not breast feeding due to Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT – tubular hypoplastic breasts – I only produce about 8oz of milk a day MAX even with all the supplements, prescriptions, pumping, nursing round the clock, etc..). I will never have breasts that dont look deformed…I used to console myself with the fact that they serve a purpose and as long as they can feed your children then who cares what they look like….but I cant even feed my babies!

The first picture is me 3 months pp from my first. The second picture is me at 38 weeks with my second (delivered at 41w5d). The rest were taken at 8.5 months pp from my second.