Between never-ending changes and feisty hormones, new moms face many personal adjustments when it comes to their new and everchanging “Mom-Bod.” Whether or not a mama lacked confidence before her pregnancy, the changes she faces during and after can definitely take a toll.
Improving that self-confidence can be tough once a baby is in the picture, but it is possible.
It takes a lot of courage to be able to face what makes you insecure and conquer those insecurities - or work towards conquering them, at least. It isn’t an easy feat and is honestly a battle that continues for the rest of a person’s life. Even the most confident and positive person has moments of negativity. However, it is important to find a way to twist that negative mindset into a positive one.
Why? Because a mama’s mind, physique, and soul deserve to be looked at in a positive light.
Embracing all that comes with motherhood is an adventure. It takes a strong person to be able to embrace that kind of chaos and when someone becomes a mom, they immediately are handed over this strength. This strength doesn’t always jump right out and make an appearance, right away – it often takes time. Remembering that strength sits behind those insecurities can help bring confidence to the surface.
20 Bingo Arms
“The hardest thing for me was the fact that I got “Bingo Arms” – you know, the ones that just flap away when you hold your bingo card up in excitement? That to me was like a slap in the face after all the other changes I had to go through,” explains Mom of two, Ally Kogut-Lands.
Facing physical changes after pregnancy is definitely not easy – especially when you feel like your body is just “slapping you in the face” with them. When you find and focus on one specific change that upsets you, that change engulfs your being.
You see that little frustration every time you look in the mirror or go to get changed. It’s tough to ignore something that you see in a negative light that is always on your mind.
19 Embrace: Turn A Negative Into A Positive
Getting yourself to a positive mindset is a journey in itself, but it is worth every bit of the effort. It’s not always easy trying to flip a positive into a negative. However, having that kind of a goal shows true strength – especially when a mama may feel a bit uneasy about her postpartum appearance or weight.
“I’m still learning to embrace it,” Says Mom, Ally Kogut-Lands. “I’m also working my arms out and making them stronger – trying to gain more muscle in them. Always turn a ‘negative’ into a positive.”
If arms are your place of insecurity, find something positive about them. They carry and lift your children. They make it through tough work-out classes or exercises. They hug your little ones tight when they need that hug the most.
18 Mama Tiger Marks
Medical News today says, “Anyone can develop stretch marks, although they tend to affect more women than men. This type of scarring happens when the skin cannot resume normal form after a period of intense growth, often due to pregnancy, weight gain, weight loss, or puberty. Over 50% of women experience stretch marks during pregnancy.”
Even with these truths, many mamas still feel very insecure about their postpartum stretch marks. Some moms will try every treatment and cream out there to cover up their marks because they think they’re, well, ugly.
There isn’t always an easy way to describe the insecurity a mama has besides putting the truth out there – even if stretch marks are proof of the least ugly experience there is.
17 Embrace: “I Gave Them Life And Now Have Proof”
“The stretch marks – still not loving them,” says Gretchen Granholm, Mom of five. “I am trying to embrace them as they are there because I grew tiny humans and I love them with my life. I gave them life and now have proof that I did.”
Embracing those physical insecurities is not easy. Remembering why they are there and the reasoning behind them can sometimes be that positive push a mama needs.
Stretch marks are often looked at as markings that just get in the way of a person’s confidence. If you can remember why they are there, you realize they are works of art painted on your skin to remind you of how you got to where you are now.
16 Uh oh, Posture Problems
During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through many, many physical changes. Though this is an obvious truth, less obvious and expected problems with posture can sometimes arise.
Carrying a baby can cause a lot of additional strain on a mom’s body and even after the baby is born, that posture continues to weaken if it isn’t focused on.
“Nursing and holding her [my baby] really aggravated an old car accident injury,” explains mom of one, Alyssa Kurtzworth. “Now I droop my shoulders forward a lot.”
Between breastfeeding, pumping, carrying your baby, and constantly angling your view downward, those back and neck muscles may start to weaken and grow painful.
15 Embrace: It's a “Constant Readjustment”
“I am constantly readjusting my posture so I’m not hunched forward like I’m 30 years older than I actually am,” says Alyssa.
Staying aware of your posture can help when trying to decrease the pain and discomfort associated with it. Reminding yourself to make small changes throughout the day may allow a busy-body mama to feel less physical (and mental) strain.
The University of Rochester Medical Center suggests using “pillows for support behind your back, between your legs, and under your belly” and, when sitting, to “choose a chair with soft armrests that allow your shoulders to relax and your elbows to be near your body.”
URMC also stresses the importance of not standing for long periods of time and to keeping “your feet slightly apart and avoid locking your knees” to prevent posture pain.
14 “I Constantly Smelled Of Old Milk”
When you’re a breastfeeding or pumping mama, the struggle with leakage is real. There really isn’t a nice or less blunt way of describing the situation – it’s a very raw and real experience. The experience itself can be a beautiful one, but it often takes time to see that at first. Breastfeeding sometimes comes with pain and issues with latching and milk production.
It also often comes with extra loads of laundry due to good ol’ “boob juice” leaking through.
“I felt like I was constantly leaking and smelled of rotten milk 95% of the time,” says mom of three, Bree Hudson. “I hadn’t breastfed my first two after about a month, so I was in unfamiliar territory.”
13 Embrace: “I Am Making The Food She Needs”
Leakage and strange smells attached to breastfeeding can often make a mom feel a tad insecure. However, thinking about the big picture can be helpful.
Mama, Bree Hudson, says, “Eventually, as my supply evened out, I stopped leaking so much and it made me feel good to know that I was making her the food that she needed.”
Knowing that you are helping your little grow and stay healthy often pushes those insecurities aside. Even when you’re sticky and smelly, you’re still helping your baby and that’s the thought that needs to always resonate when those insecurities arise. It isn’t easy keeping that mindset at all times, but it is an important mindset to work towards.
12 Going Up A Whole Shoe Size
It’s strange to think that pregnancy can impact shoe size. Out of every issue a mama faces physically, feet size isn’t usually one of them. However, swollen feet and arch pressure have shown this to thought to be true for many.
Live Science says, About 60 to 70 percent of the women [in a recent study] had longer feet and shorter arches after childbirth. Eleven of the women reported changes in their shoe size.”
Mom of one, Rachel Golden, agrees with this study and feels the frustration attached to it, “Going up a whole shoe size! Buying new clothes and shoes is expensive.”
For the moms who face this truth, frustrations with finances can surface. No mama wants additional frustrations when they’re already feeling a tad in over their heads.
11 Embrace: Reason Enough To Go Shopping
Even though these financial frustrations do occur, taking a step back and realizing this change could be a moment to focus on yourself is sometimes needed. Moms focus on their baby 99% of the time once their little one officially makes that debut. It’s important for moms to make time for themselves – even if that time is slightly forced.
Making time for mom is part of self-care – and mamas need to promote positive self-care.
Try not to look at shoe shopping as a financial stressor. It can be strange for some people to think about shopping as being stressful in the first place. However, when a new mom faces these changes – new shoes are needed. Not only for looks, but for support as well (since mamas are always on their toes).
10 Early Balding
As sad as it is, hair loss and balding are normal after pregnancy. David Salinger, a director of the International Association of Trichologists, told Today’s Parent, “Officially, the term for this particularly lovely side effect of pregnancy and childbirth is postpartum alopecia, and as many as 90 percent of women will have a form of it.”
Mom of two, Renee Saraceni, has faced this “lovely side effect of pregnancy and childbirth” and is still working on ways to make it less frustrating.
“Balding. I’m still trying to figure out how to embrace that,” says Renee. When something so unexpected happens during an already hard-to-deal-with time, facing those insecurities can leave a mama feeling helpless.
9 Embrace: Get Creative With Hairstyles
When your hair is falling out or thinning or just looking as tired as you feel, it can be hard turning those truths into positives. You may only see those bald spots when you look in the mirror when you should be seeing the strong, beautiful mama you are.
Finding creative ways to style your hair may give more positivity to the person staring back at you from the mirror. This can mean going all-out and getting that “mom haircut,” trying out different styling ideas from Pinterest, or using some new products.
Whatever it may be, make it something that excites you. Don’t focus on the postpartum alopecia going on. Focus on yourself, your self-care, and your positivity.
8 Retaining the previous shape
Weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy. It can play a major role in feeling those postpartum “Baby Blues,” postpartum depression, and just feeling insecure overall.
Belly pudge and saggy skin is a reality not typically easy to face, but it’s a reality for many mamas nonetheless.
“My biggest challenge was accepting the fact that my body is just different than it was before having kids,” says Kristeena Titus, mom of two. “After my second [child], my body is retaining a few extra pounds and it’s a lot harder to get off this time around. It’s still a work in progress.”
7 Embrace: Keep Positive Reminders closeby
“I’ve learned to embrace this body by reminding myself how great it truly is,” Kristeena, mama of two, says. “I’ve created life, nursed my babies, cuddled them day and night. I love my girls and wouldn’t trade them for the best body in the world; I’m just continuing to work toward a healthier ‘mom-body.’”
Everyone is a work-in-progress.
However, making the work-in-progress mindset a positive adventure is the best way to make a tough situation easier. Reminding yourself of the reasoning behind your slight weight gain or those little physical changes you don’t like can make all the difference. Your little one was worth the weight gain. That thought needs to be the thought that resonates with you always.
6 Clothes just Didn’t Fit The Same
It can be mentally exhausting trying to force yourself back into those pre-pregnancy jeans or those button-ups that no longer, well, button up. With hormones raging, this struggle can be the one that makes a mama go completely insane after she has been trying desperately to maintain her composure.
“I literally went through my whole closet and threw out what didn’t fit me well,” explains mom of one, Katie Guokas. The activity of throwing out old clothes can sometimes make a mom feel like she is throwing away part of herself or a part of her past. It can be a more emotionally and mentally draining activity than people think.
5 Embrace: “I Actually Like My Curves Now”
Looking at yourself and learning to love the person staring back at you in the mirror isn’t easy. It takes a lot of positive self-talk and patience. Katie Guokas continues to say, “I had to buy clothes based on my new “Mom-Bod” (bigger booty and boobs) and embrace it. It’s still hard, but I actually like my curves now!”
It also takes a little bit of humor. Laughing at the fact that a few extra pounds are upsetting you when you could be upset over a million other, much more serious things sometimes needs to happen.
Yes, postpartum weight gain is frustrating. However, you or your little one could be incredibly ill or struggling with severe financial difficulties or trying to make it through without any support – or all of the above. A few pounds isn’t the worst thing and keeping that mindset is important.
4 A Massive Deflate And Droop
There’s no way to avoid this reality when you become a mama: The changes that happen to a woman’s “chest area” can be pretty darn tough. Sometimes discomfort and leakage or pressure and stretch marks happen. If that area was once a place a woman was physically confident about, nursing, pumping, and breastfeeding can often make that confidence drop.
“I was so vain about my chest my whole life,” says mom of one, Koryn Jones. “Two years of breastfeeding a monster of a boy and weaning led to such a massive deflate and droop.”
This reality can be very defeating for a mama, especially when she may not feel too confident about the postpartum changes going on to her body.
3 Embrace: “But I Nourished My Baby”
“After breastfeeding, I shrunk down two cup sizes,” admits Katherine Ballinger, mom of one. “When I feel upset about it, I remind myself that I nourished my baby from my body alone for seven months and that is an accomplishment.”
Making that mindset a mindset you work towards is important on that self-confident journey, but it isn’t easy.
If you breastfed or pumped for your little one, remembering the reasons behind those “deflates and droops” can help keep your mindset positive. It’s tough seeing around those physical changes, but remembering what (or who) to them is what makes the adventure worth it.
2 Crow’s Feet Chaos
Consumer Health Digest says, “Crow’s feet, sometimes, referred to as laugh lines, are usually more of a nuisance than welcoming facial character. Age is the number one cause of crow’s feet. When we’re younger, our skin is full of collagen and elastin, but as we age, we start to have less of this. Our facial muscles also begin to weaken.”
After the birth of my twins, the excess skin and “belly pudge” were obvious physical frustrations I faced. Within a couple weeks of delivery, crow’s feet around my eyes became another obvious physical frustration I was hit with.
I had always had relatively easy skin to deal with. Therefore, noticing these wiggly, annoying lines every time I smiled for a picture or looked in the mirror was not an easy change to embrace.
1 Embrace: Smiling (And Stress) Will Happen
There are creams and treatments out there to remove or diminish the look of “laugh lines.” However, sometimes the safest (and most budget-friendly) option is to realize that you can’t stop yourself from aging. You also don’t want to stop laughing and making funny faces at your baby and being expressive just because you don’t want to get crow’s feet.
Never stop being yourself because of something silly like laugh lines. When you stop being yourself, you stop finding time for self-care, finding time to enjoy motherhood, and finding time to personally get to know your little one. The chaos of motherhood sometimes interferes with a mama’s happiness because of everything going on at once. This is natural, but you can’t let it get in the way of what makes you who you are.
And you can’t let laugh lines do that either.
References: Statements from “real-life” moms who gave consent to use direct quotes (via Momhood Mayhem on Facebook and jenniferalinewrites on Instagram), Medical News Today, The University Of Rochester Medical Center, Live Science, David Salinger (International Association of Trichologists)/Today’s Parent, Consumer Health Digest