A few days ago, as I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I saw a Buzzfeed article about a group of moms on Instagram. Not just any moms.  These were brave women who were sharing very raw and real pictures of their post partum bodies with the hashtag #takebackpostpartum.  

The image on the front of the article was of a mother with a deeply stretch-marked belly which was hard to ignore.  I clicked on the link and saw image after image of very real women, unfiltered, unretouched and beautiful.  Not beautiful in the hyper-glossed sense that we, as a society, have been indoctrinated to believe in…but beautiful in the intimacy and power that is the female form after creating and delivering life.

The images and captions moved me as a mother.  As a woman.  Made me remember those first few days, weeks, and months after giving birth and how alien my body felt and looked….and yet in awe of what it had just done and could do.  

Even though I did not get stretch marks or gain much weight while pregnant with my two kids, my body still felt like it had been through war. Ravaged and torn.  Even after I got my body back, it still didn’t feel quite the same. While no one else could tell the difference, I could.

I still can.  

Nine months of growing a human being, hours of labor and delivery….what was to be expected?

As I scrolled past the pictures of women with stretch marked bodies, bellies that after months would not flatten back out, breasts which became lopsided and deflated, spider veins that covered their legs like finely crafted gauze…. I saw only what an immense sacrifice these women endured to become mothers.  

Their bodies changed, but so did their lives….they gave the ultimate gift…and were willing to let us all see things that we normally want to keep hidden. They were giving us an intimate view into what we as women are willing to do….for our children.  The first of many life changing things we would do for these little ones who hold our hearts.  

Some of us get our bodies back, others don’t…..but that isn’t what ultimately matters.  What matters is the title we all earn. Mama.

This article moved me to tears, filled my heart….and then I made the mistake of reading the comment section. It brought me back down to earth with a rude bang. So much hatred and intolerance of these brave, brave women.  

Men and women alike posting about how ugly, disgusting, and embarrassing these women were. How they should keep their bodies covered. How they would never have kids because they’d rather die alone than have their bodies wrecked.  

Horrible words.  

Words I hope those moms that posted the pictures never see.  Words that would cut like a knife….because despite the joy of having that baby in your arms….it is hard to look in the mirror and see those changes.  Our society parades teenaged girls in bikinis all over the media….girls made “flawless” via computer programs and apps, fake tans and silicone…and yet we are told that this is what we are supposed to look like in order to be attractive, in order to “keep our men”, in order to love ourselves.

Oh hell no.

There is nothing disgusting or ugly about a post partum body.  Maybe things don’t look like they used to….but how could they, really?  Why must these women be judged?   Regardless of whether you ate healthy and exercised…no one knows if they will be immune to stretch marks or skin that never quite goes back to normal.  

You can have a Victoria’s Secret model body pre-pregnancy and end up with a permanently distended stomach and misshapen breasts.  You could be a bit overweight pre-pregnancy and not have your body change at all. Diet and exercise can help…but they do not predetermine everything.

Genetics play a huge role in what you will look like after giving birth…end of story.  Do you know what your body will look like after you have a baby? What your wife’s will look like? No, you don’t. So, stop the judgement.

The women in my immediate family have all gotten their pre-pregnancy bodies back quickly. I felt lucky in that, but never superior.  I never judged or felt pity for the women whose bodies changed and never went back to what they were.  I felt only a camaraderie in the journey we were all taking together.  

The sleepless nights, the worries, the absolute earth shaking love….the fact that religious or not…when you looked at that tiny babe that grew inside of you…. you knew that there was something greater than you…God, a Higher Power, something…..biology aside….

So, to all the mamas….no matter what your bodies looked like before you had your babies and what they look like now….know that you are beautiful.

That what you have created is beautiful.

A beauty that cannot and will not fade.  Beauty in its purest essence.  Primal and empowering.  As the old adage says…”Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”…and to your children you will always be the most beautiful woman in the Universe.  

No other opinion really matters.

To read more stories like this, visit my blog at:

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