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Mum and Dad

The truth behind my post-baby body probably isn't what you think


Becky Vieira

posted in Parenting

In the months following my son’s birth people would see my post-baby body and ask me what diet I was on or how often I exercised. When I say I’d done neither I’d hear something about how I was “genetically blessed” or a crack about my husband being lucky.

I don’t consider rapid weight loss any kind of a blessing, nor am I in the camp that believes my body is in any way related to my husband’s fortune. I also don’t determine my worth based on my weight. In this case it haunts me.

This is the body of postpartum depression. I’m not proud of this or sharing because I feel like I accomplished anything. Instead, you are seeing this because I hope this story will help someone else.

I hesitated even taking the after portion of my “9 months in, 9 months out” photo. I’m not naive, I recognize what my postpartum body looks like. The number on my scale is lower today that it was before I became pregnant.

Comparison photos of woman during and after pregnancy

I feared that sharing this would make other moms feel less than amazing. I’d hide my body or downplay it. I almost felt like it would be insulting to anyone struggling with post-baby weight. But that’s the thing, I’m struggling, too. It’s just that no one ever wants to hear someone say they can’t keep weight on, even if it’s due to PPD.

After my son was born my body felt foreign. It wasn’t weight, it was the swelling of feet and breasts. Postpartum night sweats and leaking nipples. I felt as if I was wearing a stranger’s clothing, nothing was familiar and I wanted to rip it all off.

As my postpartum depression began to wage a silent war inside me I lost my appetite. I was breastfeeding, not sleeping, burning calories as I struggled to care for my beloved son while simultaneously maintaining my will to live.

My family tried to get me to eat. It didn’t matter. Within months my clothes were falling off. Then my pre-pregnancy clothes fell off. My body was foreign to me once again. The clothes of a stranger were yet again the body in which I lived and I wanted out. I wanted to be myself again.

Yet all I heard was how great I looked, that I should “keep doing” whatever I was doing.

What I was doing was nothing. I wasn’t exercising or eating healthy, I was depressed. My appetite was nonexistent. I was forcing myself to sip nutritional smoothies to keep up my energy and maintain my milk supply. My husband had to set an alarm on my phone to remind me in fact. Yet all the while I was being praised because my midsection was flat.

Being told to keep up the good work made me believe my situation was normal. I assumed every mom went through this. But I was never a gym rat, didn’t anyone who knew me sense things were amiss? I never heard I was a good mom. Just a skinny mom, which is apparently a good thing?

My husband and parents were cooking my favorite meals, trying to coax me into eating anything. They knew my struggle. And probably silently cursed each person who clapped their hands together while encouraging me to “keep it up” after noticing my pants were sliding off my hips.

Mother kisses her son's cheek

My PPD is being treated and my weight is gaining. I’m happier and healthier, finally.

Dramatic weight loss can be a sign of depression. Whether it is a postpartum mother or anyone, if you notice someone dropping weight without exercising or changing eating habits it is worth a check-in. A red flag that shouldn’t be overlooked.

If you know a new mom who suddenly loses all sorts of weight without even trying please check in with her. There may be a serious reason. And you might be the reason she gets help.

If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, don’t wonder. Speak up. Talk to your doctor, partner, famil,y and friends. If you are scared or worried about the stigma (I get it…we shouldn’t be concerned about that but of course we often are) and would rather talk to someone outside of your circle, you can call Postpartum Support International at 1.800.944.4773. If you just need a fellow mom to validate you and listen to your fears, find me on Instagram and reach out.

Anxious, overwhelmed, unhappy, or scared by how you feel? If you’re struggling emotionally, you could be depressed. Take this 10-question quiz to find out.

For more of my mom shenanigans follow me on Instagram at Witty Otter.

Do you think too much emphasis is placed on a woman’s post-baby body? What was your experience?

Photo credit: Becky Vieira

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