The Postpartum Body by Meredith

Saturday, August 10, 2013
Hey! I'm Meredith, baby mama squared and Elaine's northern Californian neighbor. She asked me to stop in and chat about postpartum body image today.

Recently postpartum body talk has been on the rise, culminating in lots of attention towards a certain royal's post-baby bod (Kate's, not William's). I love that this topic is getting more normalized and out there! I had my second baby 7 months ago so it's definitely been on my mind.

I wanted to share some of the hard parts of being postpartum along with a few things that have helped me cope and feel more like myself.

You're not fat.

Over night a woman goes from being cute!, glowing!!, pregnant to just being fat. Wait ... Obviously, right after a baby, YOU'RE NOT FAT. Most women are not going to drop every pound they gained in nine months just by pushing out a baby. But it's hard to remember that and be rational at such an emotionally piqued time. Try. Try to remember you've got time and that you're normal (and that you have a uterus and it needs time to shrink back down too).

People may make (not funny/rude/naive) comments like, "Are you sure there's not another one in there?" or "I thought you had the baby, why isn't your stomach flat again?" because they don't know what else to say (hint: "You look great!" is always welcome) or because they're legitimately confused. I opted for a smile and an awkward, "Right?!" in these situations after my first. This time the big guns like uterine muscles and postpartum recovery period were tossed around in response. Figure out what works for you.

Postpartum Clothing Plan

You've had the baby! You're feeling significantly smaller than you did full term. You head to your closet to embrace all your neglected but missed non-maternity clothes. And none of them fit. Not even a little bit. Don't panic! They'll probably all fit again some day but what you need is an immediate plan of clothing action.

What I found to be helpful was putting away all of my belly-hugging maternity shirts (no need to emphasize that anymore) and pulling out some flowier tops. I've had a July baby and a January baby. In July I opted for flowy, belly skimming tops and elastic waist skirts. In January I went with the same flowy tops, boyfriend cardigans, and thick black leggings. Honestly, I wore lots of yoga pants and PJs after both kids, but if I had to get dressed, that's what helped me feel semi-put together.

Along those lines, one other thing I did that helped me clothes-wise:  I bought one pair of jeans that fit well right after I had my second baby. They were several sizes bigger than I'm comfortable being, but it was so luxurious to have the option to wear real non-stretchy denim if I wanted to. Stick to something classic, but not super expensive. I bought a pair of dark skinnies from Walmart of all places. They were around 10 bucks and fit perfectly at the time

It takes time.

And sometimes all the time in the world will never bring you back to where you were pre-baby. I'm not going to sit here and say, "But who cares! I feel so womanly now! I never want to go back!" because I'd be lying. Some women may honestly feel that way, and that's great, but I had a hard time accepting how much my body changed after just one baby.

For me the it takes time thing isn't the 9 Months On-9 Months Off advice we hear all the time. It's been more about letting go. I went through a period of mourning my old body (maybe that makes me shallow ...) and comparing myself to "the old me" and to every other woman who had a baby (celebs included, ugh). Finally I just had to go: "STOP. Comparing won't change anything and maybe nothing needs to be changed except your attitude." Feel free to talk to yourself a lot and be nice. :)

In the end, you had a baby! Whoa! Be proud of your accomplishment and just take some time to stare at that newborn (because they change every single second!) or to sleep. Stick to the important stuff.

Here are a few reads for when you're glued to the couch because feeding/snuggling/napping:

Dear Kate 
Postpartum style tips
Are women's bodies still beautiful after childbirth?
Nursing wardrobe essentials



  1. I always loved Meredith, but now I love her a little more! (No joke, when I ordered a new pair of glasses, she was my style inspiration- I wanted "meredith" glasses! I'm not a stalker.) I agree with everything she said here. I'm 6 weeks postpartum and miserable. I hate the way I look and I don't care if that makes me shallow! I know it takes time, but it also takes a crap ton of hard work! Thanks, Meredith and Elaine! You both rock!

    1. Whaa? Flattered!! I'm in that "crap ton of work" phase right now too and while it's not my favorite, it does make me appreciate how strong my body is and how awesome it is to have birthed two whole people! :)

  2. This is great! I love the part about not comparing yourself to the "old me," I definitely went through that (and sometimes still can't help but compare a little) and it is so much better to stop and be happy with where you are now. Great advice!

    1. Thanks! And you're right, it's SO much better to stop and be happy when we can! :)

  3. Some of my pre-motherhood clothes NEVER fit again due to experiencing a widened pelvis ... um, totes NORMAL. At first I was devastated, but after my second kid I was like, "Um, yes. Excuse for a whole new wardrobe? I'll take it."

    In all seriousness, I know how hard it can be to suddenly realize your body has undergone some significant and unfortunately socially-unacceptable changes. Well, I'd like to shift people's thinking about that, and I'm not surprised to see Meredith tooting the "Mom Bodies Rock!" horn. Way to go, Mer. Let's accept our evolving, beautiful bodies and dress them fabulously!

    1. See that's what's confusing me right now- Are my hips not going to go back then? After Bronson they did but this time ... I guess you're right: Time for a new wardrobe! ;)

  4. Replies
    1. I love you, Preethi! For really reals :)

  5. The thing I repeat to myself is, "OK, you can have your old, stretch mark-free, perky-boobed, flat stomached body back, but you have to send Joony back, too." And then all of a sudden it's like, mm..nah, I'm good. Fair trade.

    Still, though, some days suck. Especially when I think about how critical of and ungrateful for that gorgeous unblemished body I was and wish I'd appreciated it a little more and not been so bashful in a swim suit.

    1. Exaaaactly. If I could talk to my 16 year old self I'd say, "You are enough right now. Stop only seeing the 'flaws'!" And that's what I strive to tell myself right now too because in 20 years I'm probably going to look back and say, "What were you whining about at 25?! Hot."

  6. Meredith is awesome.

    My husband and I are planning to adopt children (if we have any), but I really appreciated this post. I get so tired of people calling themselves fat during and after pregnancy...and this was a great, real, encouraging post!