What Real Moms Look Like

This post was also featured on MindBodyGreen.com.

Babies ruin bodies. At least, that’s what I thought before I was pregnant. When I first told my co-workers of my pregnancy, amid the cheers of “Congratulations” was the quiet remark, “your body will never quite be the same again.”

And it’s true.  You might have stretch marks, varicose veins, extra weight… or maybe something else.  But we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.  We should celebrate it.

Varicose Veins

Let’s be honest. My body is not the same as it was before giving birth. I always keep thin pantyliners in my purse because my bladder control is now somewhat lacking. My hip pops when I try to stretch out my legs at times. And, my right leg has a large rope-like coil running down the front. JoAnn-veinIs my body different? Yes. Is it ruined? No way.

I birthed two children via c-section. One child still claims my body as his own.JoAnn-dude-handI worked for 10 whole months to nurture my body, carry 40 extra pounds and then bring two human beings into this world. I am damn proud of what my body has accomplished.

Pregnant with Second Baby

My friend Jill gained 55 pounds with her first born.  She was discouraged when none of her pre-pregnancy clothes fit her post-pregnancy body and worried constantly that she was “not the same” as before.  


She was working hard to lose the pregnancy weight when she found out she was pregnant again. At first, she was bummed that she was so close.  Then, she realized her body created something beautiful and was changed forever because of it. Just because she wasn’t the same size didn’t mean her body wasn’t strong.  Now, she is refocusing on nutritious eating and lots of activity.Jill-baby-in-car

Health Struggles During Pregnancy

Sara is my personal hero for the challenges that she went through during pregnancy. Sara and I used to be neighbors before we both moved. Sara-and-baby I met Sara when I was walking around the block, selling Girl Scout cookies with my daughter.  She was 8 months pregnant with her baby girl at the time.  We got to talking and she pointed to a nephrostomy bag hanging out from her shirt.  

She explained to me that at 24 weeks gestation, she started feeling pain in the lower part of her back.  The pain worsened over the next few days to the point that she couldn’t stand up straight.  After some tests, the doctors found that her kidney was failing her.

Over the course of her pregnancy she had five surgeries and spent a total of three weeks in the hospital.  She was in constant pain and ordered on bed rest for the last few weeks.  Her baby girl arrived a few weeks early and once she delivered, her kidney problems disappeared.  She is a warrior and bears a slight scar on her back from where the nephrostomy bag was placed.Sara-after-pregnancy

Baby Weight

Heather still struggles with the extra weight on her body at times.  She says its harder to lose weight after having her daughter.

However, Heather is a birthing rock star.  She delivered her daughter naturally with no epidural or any pain relief.  After 13 hours of labor and 2 full hours of pushing, her baby girl entered the world.  She said it was the most exhilarating, I can go-out-and-conquer-the-world-moment ever.  

Heather is also the brilliant photographer behind the pictures in this post. 

So here we are, in our swimsuits, telling the world, real mom bodies are awesome.  Real moms are all shapes and sizes.  They are all colors and shades.  Yes, babies have changed our bodies. We are all in constant states of improvement in every area of our lives. But, we are not covering up.  We will be out there this summer playing in the pool, chasing little ones around splash pads and lounging by the water.  

Hope to see you there.This post shows four women with different pregnancy stories. Babies don't ruin bodies. They just make us stronger as women and we need to show that off.

If you would like to see more pictures from this story, head on over to Heather’s site at AgnesArtandPhoto.com

JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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  1. I love this article! And there are so many other changes women/moms go through that everyone can relate to in some way. I love your comment about panti-liners! Haha it’s so true! I remember my Mom always telling me (after 3 births) that she can’t sneeze without crossing her legs – and now I’m doing it; and damn it I did my kegle exercises!

  2. This post is uplifting, specialty for me that I’ve been struggling with my weight lately, I feel I can’t win, but this showed me that I can, and I thank you for that

    1. Penelope, that is so wonderful to hear 🙂 Just remember how strong you are! There is so much good stuff!

  3. I love this! And it is so relevant to my life right now. I just finished up some swim classes with my 7 month old daughter and was feeling a little self conscious about showing my bare thighs because of the many stretch marks I earned during pregnancy, not to mention my new breast cleavage. But playing in the water with my baby put it all into perspective and I reminded myself that I’m my own worst critic.

    1. Most definitely! I always looked to my mother as a reflection of myself. My mom was always (and still is) the most wonderful person to me. When she puts herself down, it pains me because she’s not obviously not seeing what I see. I think about that when I am around my own daughter.

  4. Beautiful! Thank you for writing this and sharing! So encouraging for myself and I know for so many others.

  5. This is awesome! What a great way to honor REAL moms! I found you on the #wineddown Wednesday link up! Thanks for sharing!

  6. love this!! All moms need to read this! Thx so much for sharing. After my 5th boy, I have suffered vein issues & it stinks (pain & discomfort). Also all the body image stuff…I applaud u & your friends-and I’m so glad. U have each other for support!

  7. You gals are my heros!!!! After having 5 boys and all the running around I do; you would think I should be in tip top shape…but……nope im afraid its not the case. I havent went to the public pool for awhile because of fear of people looking at my not so hot body. After reading this i feel like maybe I should give it a try. Thanks

    1. Yes, Kristi!! Please, go hit the pool!!! It’s so much fun and I bet you’ll find that your body is pretty typical of other mom’s there. You are beautiful! Go have fun!

  8. i’m so glad I came across this article today. I’ve been sitting on my couch for the last month and a half with crazy morning sickness. Pregnant with my six, and cannot lose weight after the fifth, which I did lose after number three and number four. I gain 75 every single pregnancy. First two didn’t lose it next two did, number five didn’t number six will see, but I was just feeling bad about my body, I’m so glad I read this article.

  9. Unfortunately i had very deep stretch marks after the birth of my twin daughters. I was happy, but at the same time worried about the way my stomach and breasts appeared uglier with those stretch marks. The varicose veins on your legs were quite astonishing!

  10. …..and if you happen to be a woman who lost her baby weight months after giving birth (to BOTH kids) & has zero stretch marks, does that mean you are not a ‘real mom’?? Just becuase I don’t have scars, extra weight & stretch marks doesnt make me any less of a mother.

  11. I love this post – so great!
    I have 3 little kids and we live near the beach. They love to spend their days there, I need to read posts like this to motivate. But you´re so right, we should be proud of our bodies which gave us so wunderful children!
    Maria (from Germany)

  12. Thank you for writing this article and reminding me that different is still beautiful. After my 1st child was born, I developed gallstones related to pregnancy and had my gallbladder removed, which in turn left scars. After my 2nd child, I have weak knees, carpal tunnel and extra weight. Not to mention another C-Section scar. Thank you for empowering other women.

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