The Pre-pregnancy Body

I was watching the L-word the other night and one of the characters slipped in an off-handed comment that she was, “still working to get her pre-pregnancy body back.” Just that, nothing more. Five years ago I wouldn’t have thought anything about the comment. It is just something people say, meaning they want to get “fit” after having a baby. No big deal, right?

Except, maybe it is a big deal. Maybe, when society is telling women that they need to remain first and foremost a sexualized female creature before they can be a good mother, it matters. Maybe, when women are opting for c-sections because they do not want to end up with a looser vagina after birth, it matters. Maybe, when women quietly gossip about how new mothers have, “let themselves go,” and justify men cheating and abandoning their families with it, it matters. Maybe a series that is supposed to explore the deep, complex emotions and sex life of lesbians should give a little more thought to the language they use… maybe.

I have been lucky in life. I have never had severe body image issues, and I have rarely let others define my worth based on my appearance. From a young age I wore the clothes I wanted, and while I was extremely shy towards others I still had an inner sense of self-worth and confidence. Of course, I had times when I was sad certain people weren’t attracted to me, but I never thought of changing my image to fit their ideal. Fashion, diets, and the beauty industry have lost out on me. I think that, along with my amazing husband, has made being pregnant extremely easy.

My husband, while very visually stimulated, does not have an ideal body type. He has loved and cherished my body throughout these past nine months without hesitation. He hasn’t become more attracted to me, or less attracted to me, as I swell in all sorts of funny ways. It is obvious that he is most attracted to the person inside, not outside, and for that I am very grateful.

All of that being said, I would lie if I said that I had never considered the, “pre-pregnancy body.” I hear about friends signing up for marathons and I want to be able to do that again. As my clothing slowly dwindles I find myself unwilling to buy new clothes that I will wear for just a month and longing to slip into an old pair of jeans. I have looked up, “How long will it take to lose the pregnancy weight?” Mostly, this is because I am packing away certain clothes and I wonder when/if I will ever wear them again and whether I should just get rid of them altogether. I have very little desire to be, “young and sexy,” because I feel plenty sexy at the moment.

I think that I am ready to get my post-pregnancy body. I am ready to be done carrying a 3 kg baby and all of his belongings inside of me. I am ready to be able to cycle and run without fear of inducing early labor. However, I recognize that my body after birth will never be the same as my body before birth. It seems like women have an obsession with going backwards in life. Anti-aging creams, and longing for the body they had when they were fifteen. But you can’t go back in time, only forward, and why not be excited for the body that awaits you?

Pregnancy changes you. If not emotionally and spiritually, at least physically. The hips widen, the stomach relaxes, the uterus enlarges. These are permanent changes. I am not sure if I am in the camp that is, “proud” of birth and views these changes as badges of honor, but I am certainly not someone who wants to cover them up, as if the only worthwhile position for a female to be in is the pre-pregnancy flirtation, hyper-sexual, defined by desire position. I think “mother,” is a worthwhile thing to be. I think, “professional,” is a worthwhile thing to be. I do not think a woman has to be sexy and feminine in order to be happy and complete. With that in mind, forget the pre-pregnancy body, I am looking forward to the post-pregnancy body and my continuing journey through life. 

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