Hour glass figure, hips, tiny waist, big boobs, clear skin, luscious hair, big eyes, big butt, long legs, small feet, no stretch marks, straight teeth, and perfection. If you are a woman, odds are you have grown up hearing these unrealistic expectations, These expectations and many more, are what our society deems as perfect, beautiful and sexy.
Growing up, I was never completely confident in my body image. I struggled with acne, I was short, blessed up top and down low. I had to have braces, wear glasses and struggle to figure out how to make myself look presentable. I had to overcome the awkwardness of being a teenage, and transition into young adulthood
Before I got pregnant the first time, I struggled with stretch marks, not really on my stomach, but in other areas of my body.
In my first few weeks of pregnancy, I started to develop stretch marks on my stomach and around my belly button. After I suffered my first pregnancy loss, I felt completely horrified by the shell that once held my baby. I had gained weight, developed stretch marks, and had suffered postpartum hair loss as my hormones began to drop. I felt like a teenager all over again, as I struggled to look at myself in the mirror. I know body image can be a struggle for many women postpartum after birth, but nobody really talks about how it is a struggle for women postpartum a miscarriage.
Last summer I took the imitative in getting back to a healthier me. I focused on my physical and mental health, as well as dedicated any spare time I had to selfcare. I started intermittent fasting, going to the gym a few times a week with my bestie, and started eating healthier. These little changes in my lifestyle helped me start to feel better. At the end of summer I went to a doctor appointment, and I was so disappointed to find out that despite my dedication to these lifestyle changes, I wasn’t losing any weight. I had gained 3 lbs. instead.
For a few more weeks I continued this lifestyle, even though I felt highly discouraged. I tried researching, online reasons why it may be challenging for someone to lose weight and become healthier after a miscarriage. To my surprise, I couldn’t find anything. I continued to feel discouraged, and not interested in even trying to be healthy any more. I figured, what was the point? I started to have the mentality of, my body is ruined, and I don’t even have a healthy baby to show for it.
When I was about ready to give up, a conversation with a dietitian encouraged me more than any conversation I had with anyone else. I went to a WIC appointment after my second loss. She asked me questions about my diet, physical activity and mental health. I explained to her that I try to eat right, do intermittent fasting, excericise, struggle with hypothyroidism, and still have yet to see any results after both my pregnancies. The dietician listened and was very understanding. She disclosed to me that she too has hypothyroidism, she has had a miscarriage and a healthy pregnancy and also struggles with anxiety. She explained to me that unfortunately it can be very challenging after a pregnancy whether you give birth or suffer a pregnancy loss to lose weight. It is often hard for women physically because of the hormones that linger after pregnancy. It can also be challenging to lose weight in general if someone struggles with anxiety, depression or grief because our bodies like to hold on to the extra fat, almost as a protection. She encouraged me not to give up and that it can definetly take a while, especially if I am struggling with all these things. She also suggested eliminating late night snacking, drinking more water, and getting plenty of rest.
I’ve learned a lot about body image since my first pregnancy. For one, pregnancy affects a lot of things in a woman’s body. Anything from a woman’s mood to her thyroid, weight and blood pressure can be very affected. I’ve also learned that weight gain isn’t always your fault. Sometimes as much as you try to lose weight, there can be certain factors that affect how fast you lose weight. Learning this eased my anxiety and discouragement. For weeks, I was beating myself up about my weight, when in reality I was truly doing all I could do. So if you are a woman and you too are struggling with postpartum body image, please show yourself some grace. It’s hard losing weight, but it can be extremely hard when you have other physical and mental struggles going on.