The Fourth Trimester Bodies ProjectSo that’s me, right above these words in my bikini. Yep, I’m throwing caution to the wind and plastering my image across this little online space, something I can’t say I had planned to do up until maybe a week ago. What changed my mind and motivated me to share my post partum bod with the interwebs? A little thing called The 4th Trimester Bodies project

I’d never heard of it until last week when something related to it popped up in my newsfeed and I was intrigued. I clicked over to the site (you can find it HERE) and had a good mosey around. While you can pop on over yourself and check it out properly, I’ll give you a bare bones rundown. The 4th Trimester Bodies Project is the brainchild of photographer and mother Ashlee and her desire to accurately represent what the post partum body looks like to and for a variety of different women. It was tagline for the project however which really got me; this project is dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Something about seeing the photos posted on on the site and reading the stories that accompanied them really got into my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I guess more deeply, what my own perceptions of my body were these days. Had I embraced the changes that 9 months of pregnancy, birth and 6 months of breastfeeding brought?

I find it hard to sum up the relationship I have with my own body as it’s certainly changed over time. I was insanely sporty as a kid and teenager and as such, never worried much about my weight.  As i rolled into teenage-hood properly, I had the opposite problem in that I was seen as being too skinny. My low bodyweight and a few genetic factors meant that I ended up with a condition where the bottom part of my sternum poked out. It was visible in cossies (which, as a swimmer and water polo player I spent a LOT of time in), and in singlet tops and t-shirts that didn’t have a pattern of logo on the front. I was extremely self conscious and can still remember the hours my wonderful mum would spend with me finding cossies that would detract away from my chest area and disguise the funny pokey outy bit.

When I was 15, I had the bone shaved down and part of it removed. A surgery that had become necessary due to discomfort and the risk that eventually I might encounter a ‘bone through the skin’ situation (eewwwww!). The surgery was done and I recovered quickly. I still have a small scar but it sits right beneath my bra line and is barely noticeable.

As I hit the later teenage years and my interest and participation in sport dwindled, my body changed again. This also coincided with me discovering alcohol and the joys of socialising past 10pm. I put on weight for the first time in my life, finally got boobs and discovered the angst that comes with not being happy with the way my body looked.

It would be a pattern that repeated itself pretty much through my early twenties and while I wouldn’t say I ever delved into disordered thinking, I swung between loathing and tolerating my body. There wasn’t much love. Just general tolerance. I always thought I could do with losing a few kilograms and tended to get stuck in the ‘If I just do XYZ then I’ll lose XYZ and all will be good in the world’ mindset. I’ve always fallen back on that way of thinking; once something changes THEN life will be perfect, and it was no different when it came to my body and how I looked.

I fell pregnant with Ollie a few weeks after getting married. The pre-wedding preparations had been epic. I think I was at the gym almost everyday and was eating meals that pretty much resembled what you’d see in the pages of Women’s Fitness magazine. I have no idea now what I weighed at my wedding but I felt pretty good, though still wondered if ‘my arms could have been a LITTLE more toned.’

While I was pretty active during pregnancy, I pretty much didn’t stop eating for 9 months. I was never weighed and didn’t have any issues with gaining too much but I reckon I would have had to of put on maybe 20 kilograms. My body changed again (and not just with the addition of an enormous bump). I got cellulite for the first time in my life. My bum and thighs increased in size. Everything seemed bigger. Despite that, I LOVED being pregnant and loved the fact that my body was growing a little life inside it.

Fast forward to the weeks and months after birth and while I was suprised to still be carrying my baby belly around for a short time, i seemed to lose weight quickly. I wasn’t looking after myself though and it definitely started to impact both my body and mental state. I reckon I probably went back to around my pre-pregnancy standard weight though I didn’t weigh myself. Things were different though and I felt as if my body had been completely transformed by pregnancy. 11 months after Ollie was born, I quit sugar which changed things again.

Mulling over where I’m at now was interesting. As I lazed on the balcony of our holiday cabin on Monday, clad in a bikini, I realised I’ve never worried less about how I look. I was a little stunned by that, I have to admit. I used to spend so much time worrying about exercise and what I was eating, primarily because of the potential impact it would have on how I looked. After having Ollie I was more concerned with whether my boobs would work properly. Fast forward a few months and it was all about learning to wear him, push a trolley and carry bags of shopping up three flights of stairs. I quit sugar primarily for the mental health benefits I was hoping to achieve. A decrease in anxiety was what I was looking for, not a change in dress size. I did catch myself zeroing in on my belly when I passed the multiple mirrors in our cabin but instead of the tirade of criticism I would have experienced three years ago, it was far more ‘meh, whatever’.

I’ve never posted shots of me in anything other than clothes before. Heck, my photos are usually cropped to take in the makeup or outfit that I’m wearing. But seeing the bravery displayed by the women taking part in The 4th Trimester Bodies Project inspired me to put my money where my mouth it and actually demonstrate the comfortable place I’m at with my body these days. It is slightly terrifying. Somehow, writing about my struggles with OCD, anxiety and depression were easy compared to shoving a few bikini clad pics onto a page which is quite ridiculous when you think about it!

So in the name of solidarity, in celebrating the miraculous feats my body has occurred, here I am! 20 months post partum!

The Fourth Trimester ProjectThe Fourth Trimester Bodies ProjectThe Fourth Trimester Project

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22 Comments on Body After Baby: A Homage To The Fourth Trimester Bodies Project

  1. Mother Down Under
    September 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm (4 years ago)

    You are such a beautiful woman…and mom!
    I have never really thought less about my body than I do now. Beyond appreciating that it is functioning, I simply do not have time to consider it.
    I know I don’t look after it well enough…I could definitely eat more and eat better and wear sunscreen!
    I wrote about it a while ago.
    http://www.motherdownunder.com/2012/10/i-heart-my-body-we-heart-life.html

    And PS I have a sticky outy sternum too…I didn’t have to get surgery but I can totally relate to feeling self conscious about your actual chest sticking out farther than your boobs!

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:47 am (4 years ago)

      Another sticky outy sternum person! I’m not the only one! Lol! Yep, totally agree about the time thing. There are so (so) many other things to occupy my thoughts that thinking about my belly and its flatness just doesn’t come into the equation anymore! I can definitely relate to feeling like I SHOULD do more exercise, eat more greens etc but thinking and doing are often so far apart!

      Reply
  2. Kristen
    September 26, 2013 at 8:21 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing!
    I too have had many body issues in my pre-baby days. I carried weight throughout my late teens and 20s.
    I never really ‘loved’ my body, even when I did lose weight at varying times.
    During my pregnancy with my now 18-month-old son I put on 18 kilos and, like you, I wasn’t phased by my changing body. I was truly amazed by the miracle growing inside of me.
    After he was born I also battled anxiety and some other health issues and I lost around 25 kilos.
    Finally, 18 months later, my weight has stabilised and although I would love to get rid of my ‘mummy-belly’ I can finally say I am ok with my body. In fact, I think it’s pretty damn amazing.
    I carried, birthed, and fed my son for 13 months, and when I look at his beautiful, mischievous little face each and every day I think my body has done a pretty good job!
    Thank you again for sharing your story.
    You look fabulous by the way!

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:45 am (4 years ago)

      Thank YOU for stopping by and sharing Kristen! It’s funny the way our perceptions can change so dramatically, especially after carrying and birthing a baby. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such awe at what my body was capable of. I also think it takes time for your body to adjust to the ‘new normal’ post birth, at least mine definitely did! The first few months are such a haze of tiredness, anxiety and just general ‘OMG what are we doing?’ that our bodies and looking after ourselves seems to fall way down the line. Took me 13 or so months to get back to a place I felt happy with. Well done you for producing a beautiful little boy and thanks again for your lovely comment!

      Reply
  3. Crystal
    September 27, 2013 at 5:31 am (4 years ago)

    Good for you throwing caution to the wind! We shouldn’t have to be ashamed of our post partum bodies!

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:37 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you Crystal! And thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  4. Maxabella
    September 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m pretty sure my body didn’t look as good as your body BEFORE I had the babies… go you! To be honest, I’ve never been that fussed about the whole body thing in general. I don’t try hard enough to deserve a nice one and I’m perfectly okay with that. x

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:37 am (4 years ago)

      Lol thank you 😉 I have years and years of sport to thank I think for my muscle tone and general body shape! Probably that won’t last forever sadly 😉 I definitely think my attitude towards it all has changed dramatically and know that I now see going for a walk as a chance for a breather (and to tire out the toddler and dog) as opposed to a chance to burn calories. Amazing how your thinking changes!

      Reply
  5. Lauren - Gold Coast Mum
    September 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm (4 years ago)

    Great blog post (visiting via FYBF). You look fabulous! I’m currently preggas with twins (#3 & #4) and my bikini body certainly won’t be the same ever again, but it’s all good, I have all my precious cherubs to show for it! 🙂

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:35 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks for stopping by Lauren! Oh my Goodness! Congrats on your pregnancy! Wowee.. I bet you have the most beautiful bump! I’m always amazed/impressed that two babies can fit in the one belly. You’re a superstar!

      Reply
  6. Bec
    September 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm (4 years ago)

    I saw that photographers site a few weeks ago. Such an amazing project! Our bodies certainly change so much and I’m a bit over beating myself up about it. Takes a lot of time to accept that my body is totally different now and that’s ok, it’s birthed and fed two babies and that’s pretty amazing! You look great, well done on sharing the pics xx

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:34 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks lovely! It was definitely a ‘should i hit publish?’ moment but glad I did! Some of the photos on the site are SO beautiful! I just find it amazing the diversity in women’s bodies and the way we manage to carry, birth and feed tiny humans. It’s slightly mind blowing!

      Reply
  7. Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me
    September 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm (4 years ago)

    Fantastic post! I love everything about it. I actually wrote one last Sunday asking where my boobs have gone. I really wasn’t prepared for how my body would change after giving birth. Funnily enough I gave up sugar too … Anyway, good on you and thanks for being so brave as to show off your body. You’re rockin it!

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:33 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you so much Renee! He he I can’t wait to read your boob post? Did you end up locating them in the end? I have to say that I think breastfeeding and the resulting loss of ‘proper’ boobage came as more of a shock than the pre-baby tummy!

      Reply
  8. Dani
    September 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm (4 years ago)

    Your post partum body looks lovely. The 4th trimester sounds similar to the Jade Beall Beautiful Bodies Project, which is also about recognising the beauty of bodies after babies and breast feeding.

    I had always been pretty thin, but put on about 17 kg during pregnancy. I only retained 7kg of it but have had huge issues since then (15 months ago) because I eat so much sugar as a coping mechanism for the chronic sleep deprivation. It probably doesn’t help that I was a smoker previous to,pregnancy, and am probably using food as the crutch that cigarettes once were.

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:30 am (4 years ago)

      Nawww thanks Dani, that’s a lovely compliment. I am going to check out the Jade Beall Beautiful Bodies Project today as it’s piqued my interest. I hear you on the sugar front. I pretty much had it intravenously after Ollie was born. I quit when he was 11 months which completely changed my eating habits and body shape but I do wonder how I’ll go if/when I have another and the crazy sleep deprivation happens again!

      Reply
  9. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    September 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm (4 years ago)

    Such a refreshing read! I was a very small woman before I had my first child and now after my 3rd in 3.5 years my body has taken a battering, BUT I have FINALLY accepted it! PHEW! I wish I had treasured my body in my teen years and 20s. I’m working on my 4th trimester body, and I’m getting there. I also think I’m just happy to still be not totally CRAY CRAY in the head!!! Found you via Grace’s FYBF – hope to read more soon – Emily 🙂

    Reply
    • Not Just A Mummy
      September 28, 2013 at 11:28 am (4 years ago)

      Ohhhh I totally get you with the ‘cray cray in the head’. Been there myself! I’m intrigued to see how my body changes again if/when I have another as I’m sure that’ll be a completely new journey (and I seriously cannot imagine the state my boobs will be in as I swear breastfeeding a single child has decimated them 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by and can’t wait to head over to ‘Have A Laugh On Me.’

      Reply
  10. Tegan
    September 28, 2013 at 8:04 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m not really loving my body at the moment but I think that I definitely have a lot more appreciation for my body since having my son. I may not like the look of it but it was able to carry a baby, to nurture a life and has survived the abuse that I have thrown it’s way for years on end.

    This a great post and I love the idea of celebrating the post partum bodies, whatever they look like.

    Reply
  11. Kathy
    September 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm (4 years ago)

    Found you via FYBF and #FBLS – great post and great idea with the 4th Trimester body. Things never worked out for me to give birth, and we now have two lovely adopted kids, so I’ve never had to deal with the post-baby body blues (although I have had the blues). My body issues used to revolve around not being able to carry a baby and I’ve put on weight in recent years and chastise myself that I don’t even have pregnancy and childbirth as an excuse! At 45 (agh) now, my body is changing (read ageing) more and I’m still trying to get a level of comfort with it, although learning to care a little less.

    Reply
  12. Malinda @ My Brown Paper Packages
    September 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm (4 years ago)

    I think every mum goes through a stage of not being happy with their body post birth, and then we go through a ‘I just don’t care because I have other things in my life’, and finally back to I care enough to do something about it but not enough to be upset by it. You look great and even better that you feel great.

    Reply
  13. Julie
    September 30, 2013 at 9:26 pm (4 years ago)

    After trying for so long to fall pregnant and after so many miscarriages I developed a huge hate for my body, not for the shape or how it looked, but for its failure. 21 months post partum I have come a full circle and again am ambivalent about shape and size, but I wear my c-section scar with pride. My baby zipper is my medal of achievement.

    Reply

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