The shape of a mother – How I’ve learnt to love my body…

Standing in front of the mirror naked was uncomfortable. I hated looking at me… I hated looking at the stretch marks that covered what was once a flat belly, my breasts that have started to sag, my hairy legs that I couldn’t bend to shave, and my swollen feet that I couldn’t reach to put cream on. My body was getting bigger and nothing was attractive any more. I refused to drop my towel in front of my husband…

pregnancy body

Learning to love my body has always been a struggle for me. After my first pregnancy, my body changed but I was happy. I didn’t mind gaining weight.

Before pregnancy, I used to be a size 26 and that was one of my reasons for low self-esteem. I hated been “skinny”. I know many people may think this is weird but it’s true… Being thin isn’t always the “happy” option.

I wasn’t anorexic or bulimic, I just couldn’t pick up weight even though I ate more than most people.

Strangers used to ask me all the time: “Why are you so thin?” and I never had a proper answer for them. It became a frustrating question that I used to try to avoid. I hated dressing up especially for special occasions at school because I knew people would finally see my body shape.

I was never confident about myself until my postpartum body. It made me confident even with the stretch marks because I was finally a size 30, the size I always dreamt of being! I was finally a size that people wouldn’t judge and now I could shop wherever I wanted to.

Then… I fell pregnant again and this time things changed. It wasn’t like before. Nothing was the same. My low self-esteem came back and tears started rolling down my cheeks once again. But this time it wasn’t because I was too thin… It was because I was getting fat! Fat in odd places, nothing fits anymore and the pregnancy “fashion” I hoped to have went flying out of the window with my confidence.

It took me weeks to look at my body again but I finally managed to. I started to love myself again… and it happened because of my daughter and the words she uttered to me twice while I stared in the mirror with a frown on my face…

“Mommy, you look beautiful”… Beautiful, the word I never used to describe myself finally made me smile!

When I looked back in the mirror again, I finally saw my body as a whole instead of the usual random conglomeration of body parts haphazardly sewn together like Frankenstein.

pregnancy body

Pregnancy may force you to embrace body changes but it also makes you beautiful. I’ve learned that my body is beautiful and it creates the miracle of life. I am ME and that isn’t going to change because motherhood made me a woman.

Becoming a woman comes with change, even though it changes we may hate at first, we have to accept that it’s part of life and the road we travel. Our bodies are made to nourish the life growing inside us. Embrace it and find the beauty in your new body. You are not ruined, your body isn’t ruined. It’s beautiful.

Mothers are warriors that earn their stripes, for many it may be visible (like stretch marks).

Stretch marks and cellulite

A stretch mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn. One for every time you sucked your thumb, waved hello, closed your eyes and slept in the most perfect darkness. One for every time you had the hiccups. One for every dream you dreamed within me.

It isn’t very pretty anymore. Some may even think it’s ugly. That’s OK. It was your home. It’s where I first grew to love you, where I lay my hand as I dreamed about who you were and who you would be. It held you until my arms could, and for that, I will always find something beautiful in it.”

Author unknown

We each have a story to share and a battle to fight. I am amused by a story that my cousin told me about her son. When he was 4 he looked at the stretch marks and said mom you should be so proud of them – you have them because of me. When he was 8 he changed his tune and stated that she needed to do something about the stretch marks…. I guess that just shows me that the innocence of childhood gets corrupted by the influence of adults. We subconsciously feed ourselves and our children with images of the ‘perfect’ body, ‘perfect look’ and imperfect us. What are our kids going to think as we grow up?  If we show dissatisfaction with ourselves, will our daughters be able to embrace their own identity?

Today, I want you to love yourself! Stop watching the numbers on the scale and start striving to be your best. Don’t compare yourself to Kim Kardashian or the mom at the mall in 3-inch heels.

I’ve realized that Pregnancy is not an invitation to criticize myself or someone else. It’s a miracle that needs to be celebrated and that’s exactly what I plan on doing the next 5 weeks.

I received a package from Dove and at first I never really understood what it meant because I opened the package in a hurry but today, I went back to it and decided to watch the video that was sent to me. The video that made me rethink everything! It made me understand how important it is for me to love myself so my daughter can grow up loving herself. Are you creating a positive beauty legacy for your child?


Dove believes all women have a role to play in setting a confident example for the next generation by feeling good about their own beauty and acting with positivity towards the way they look. “Whether she is a mother, aunt, coach, teacher, or sister, every woman has the opportunity to make a difference to a girl’s self-esteem,” said Kate Swan, marketing manager at Dove South Africa. “By ensuring their own beauty legacy is positive, all women can help the next generation of girls grow up to be happy and content, free from the pressure of beauty stereotypes and the burden of self-doubt.”

Visit the Dove South Africa website, the Dove Facebook page here or follow @Dove_ZA on Twitter for more information.

 Please note this is not a sponsored post…

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Hi, I’m Shan. I’m an entrepreneur and a sucker for good adventures. I was listed in Forbes Africa 30 under 30 2019 and just recently launched my start-up – MomSays.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  1. 2015-08-12 / 13:26

    What a great post! I loved reading this even though I’ve never been pregnant yet. It gives insight for what is to come…

    • 2015-08-12 / 14:04

      Thanks for reading Nihaad. 🙂 Yup pregnancy makes one emotional …lol so I’ve had some interesting posts.

      • 2015-08-12 / 14:15

        Well like Gloria said in Modern Family “You’re busy turning food into a human.”

        All the best with the pregnancy and emotions Xo

  2. Nomthandazo
    2015-08-12 / 14:29

    I love this as I also went through the same struggles. I’m a size 26 and loved the weight gain when I was pregnant until I lost it when I was breastfeeding.

    • 2015-08-19 / 12:27

      Wow Nomthandazo, you’re the first one that shared such a similar story! Trust me I think it will change after a second child. I’d be happy in a size 30.

  3. lameez
    2015-08-12 / 20:53

    Evening , finaly I got to read ur post after a hectic day .i know how u feel went through the same thing. When I was pregnant with my twins was so different from my 1st pregnancy and it was my 1st girls but I was feeling so emotional,low self esteem about the changes,people was staring a lot at me since my 1stt trimester till th last day of my preggies after birth I thaught I will never get my body back or feel beautifull inside and out . Hubby always incourage me and uplift my spirit also help me a lot .Today I’m back to old weight and myself … Beautifull and inspiring post .All the best *hugs* 🙂

  4. 2015-08-14 / 19:58

    It can be difficult to learn to love your pregnancy body and post pregnancy body. I had to keep reminding myself that all the ways I’d changed were the result of my awesome kids.

  5. ascendingbutterfly
    2015-08-15 / 01:02

    I think for many people learning to love your body is an ever-evolving process, I hope this post helps other women to not feel so alone.

  6. 2015-08-15 / 01:46

    All of my pregnancies were different, too. I felt like the Goodyear blimp during my first pregnancy. Learning to love your body is a process that I’m still going through.

  7. 2015-08-15 / 07:08

    I never regained my confidence in my body until the time I decided to stop having babies. I got back in shape and have never been happier. I am still a few pounds heavier than when I started with my first pregnancy, but who cares? The hubby loves the extra chubbiness.

  8. 2015-08-15 / 13:34

    Like you I was really skinny before I had my first child. I loved my body post baby #1, after #2 it took me a bit longer. I’m 3.5 years post baby #2 and I love my body, flaws and all.

  9. Paula Schuck
    2015-08-16 / 16:02

    I have learned to love my stretch marks over the years. I used to hate them and i have tried every lotion and cream there is to try to lessen them. Now i see them as a reminder of where my children were created. I love this Dove campaign.

  10. 2015-08-16 / 17:48

    I’ve always been skinny, but I think I’m skinnier now than ever. I don’t hate it though, but I would love for me to gain a little weight. It has always been easy for me to lose weight, but so hard to gain weight.

  11. 2015-08-16 / 20:37

    It’s so important to love our bodies! I was thin before my first and went right back to my pre-pregnancy size afterwards. My second and third were a little more devastating to the body BUT I’ve learned to accept and love my flaws over the years. 🙂

  12. 2015-08-17 / 15:25

    Ive managed to maintain my weight thought my pregnancy’s. I do gain while bf which is horrible and feels like impossible to lose.

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