The Shape of a Mother – what real women look like after having a baby

shape of a mother 04 The Shape of a Mother – what real women look like after having a baby

So you’re standing in the queue at the supermarket and your eyes land on a trashy magazine – the cover features a singer/actress/ model who is proudly showing off her ‘post-baby’ body. In a tiny bikini, of course. You can’t help but reach for the magazine and quickly scan the article – how did she do it? Sure, I think, if I had a staff of nannies, chefs and personal trainers, I could look like that too.

Now for the reality check – before I had kids, even at my fittest and full of twenty-something body confidence, I never looked like any of those celebrities. So it stands to reason, I’ll never achieve that kind of body after having had four babies!

I had my last baby almost five years ago – I have accepted the fact that my body won’t ‘go back’ to what it was (in fact my obstetrician helpfully explained the state of my stomach muscles – “You know when you have a piece of elastic and it’s overstretched? It won’t spring back and is frayed around the edges?”).

When I had my first baby I had no idea how my body would change. No one really tells you. Until now.

The Shape of a Mother is a website dedicated to showing real mothers’ bodies - stretch marks, dimples, saggy skin, scars and all. Bonnie Crowder created the website to address the fact that the post-pregnancy body is kept a ‘secret’ – she wanted women to have a forum to show their post-birth bodies and offer support to those struggling with their body image during pregnancy or after birth.

Readers upload their own pictures and stories – some bare their souls and tell of their battles with ‘baby weight’. Others happily defy the pressure to ‘get their body back’ and show-off their c-section scars, wonky boobs and networks of stretch marks proudly.

The website makes for interesting and inspiring reading. Would you post your story to Shape of a Mother?

(via Daily Mail)

shape of a mother 03 The Shape of a Mother – what real women look like after having a baby

83 Comments

  1. I would, I completely understand what its like to look at the pics of celebrities and not one bit of me can be compared to them. I am real, I am untouched, I am me!

  2. All gets back to how unrealistically the media portrays women in those Women’s Magazines doesn’t it.

    Great to see ‘real tummies’. We should be embracing motherhood rather than creating unrealistic expectations.

    … Then again I’m not sure I’d want my post THREE BABY tummy shown to the world.

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  3. Finally someone has got the nerve to show how we / some of us look like after babies, my husband called my boobs, national geographic after breast feeding, hey i didn’t mind, i was nourishing our baby..and my body well good on the above picture as that is what i have after 2 c sections, trying very hard to just tone up, but i’m happy, swimming helps a lot, but i want to enjoy my baby, not have to huff and puff to get back to celebrity status, So i say take a look at us really women and yes Pink is happy to lose it naturally too….She is an inspiration..

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  4. My stomach looked like the photo at the top. I was luckily able to lose the weight easily enough (thank you breastfeeding and we shall see if it happens again after the second baby as I know it might not) but that loose skin was still there – well until it was needed to accommodate my growing bump.
    Those celebs who get back those amazing post-preg bellies with nary a stretchmark in sight owe it all to a combo of genetics and possibly P/T and diet, but mostly good genes I think.

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  5. Were you fit and healthy, taut and terrific, balanced diet, happy and vigorous before baby? My guess is ‘no’. It’s a slippery slope. I see teens who are jelly and sloppy. There’s no way back. Shame people have to have a heart attack before they make resolutions about their health! I grew up with strict parents. “I’m thirsty”, “drink water”, “I’m hungry” “eat an apple”. Parents need some backbone NOW and then they/we will prevent our kids from growing fatally unwell before their time.

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  6. I don’t think its fair to judge anyones shape after birth whether good or bad we all went through being pregnant and giving birth we should all give each other credit for that!As for bodies well I think this site should post all pics good and bad and maybe we could all share tips on how to get our bodies back in shape.I say give credit on the ones for getting their body back in shape,lucky you to the ones who are just blessed to not have their body very effected and ones that aren’t to concerned about how u look good on you for not being worried about what other people think!

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  7. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all finally accept the way ourselves and other women looked liked. It’s sad that we all judge the back in her bikini mum or the mum who can’t lose the baby weight.
    Let’s change that attitude ladies :-)

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  8. ♥♥♥♥ Love this!!

    After just having my second baby 4 weeks ago, it is kind of a relief to not only see the pictures of other women who don’t “bounce back” but to also read all your comments (apart from Renee’s!) and know that I’m not alone!!

    I’ll admit, I kind of bounced back after my first. I was very lucky and escaped the stretch marks and only had a bit of a flabby belly.
    I wasn’t so lucky with my second though…. Stretch marks from my boobs all the way down to my knees. I now have that little “flap” as well.

    Sure, if I wanted too, I could probably head out for hours and work out, be on a diet and all that crap. But I much rather spending that time with my little ones. Each easy bowl of noodles I make, or the not to healthy pre-frozen meals that we eat take a lot less time to prepare than a healthy meal. Each day I stay at home instead of exercising is more time I get to play with my 2 year old so he doesn’t feel left out.

    I had my children (and will probably have more) because I enjoy being around them and nurturing and teaching them. It would be a lie if I said I didn’t care how I look, but I realise that there are more important things I can do with my time than try and get “good looking”.

    Plus my partner loves me and is hanging around me even more now that I’ve had our second child.

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  9. None of us has the exact same body shape before pregnancy so of course none of us has the exact same body shape after pregnancy. I never had a ‘perfect’ body before my bubs – always a little jiggly and roly poly – and I’m the same now – no worse, no better. Just me. Love your mind, love your kids, love your lovers and your family and friends, love the earth and nature and great ideas. But don’t get so wrapped up in loving your body. Just flesh and bones. Love what your body can do, make, enjoy. Enjoy

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  10. I really hate that this perpetuates the myth that pregnancy means the end of a great body. If you’re in good health before you get pregnant and stay healthy, you can have a fantastic body post pregnancy. These pics represent a minority and don’t speak to the majority of the mums in the mothers groups I go to.

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  11. I think these photos ae beautiful. Every woman needs support regardless of how you look after having a baby, and noody should expect to look perfect. I worked to get back to pre-pregnancy, but still have a body similar to above and I think it is horrible to say that it looks awfull and that you would have post-natal depression if you looked like that. Post-natal depression is not a laughing matter and neither is a post baby body. Just be happy to be who you are and be happy with the gift you have bought into the world, be healthy and don’t listen to anybody who has any sort of negativity, and that includes comments like that from Renee Manning.

    Love who you are and your baby.

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  12. I have embraced my mommy tattoos (stretch marks) as it is what makes me a mom & real woman. Love this

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  13. Very nice pictures and interesting information.

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  14. I have to say my body is better now after having two kids than it was before, but it comes with hard work I exercise and eat healthy, no sugar and no wheat which has allowed my body to drop weight off and feel more energised. I also contribute to getting my belly back down to normal shape by breastfeeding and doing the post natal exercises the hospital recommends you do. The boobs however will never look perky again but I’m ok with this as I was able to BF for over 12months with both my kids giving them a great start to a healthy life. If I didn’t do this for myself then I would be overweight and unhealthy.

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  15. I was just under 300lbs with my first child. I breastfed for 11 months, and was so busy making sure he was cared for, I put myself on the back burner. With my second, I kept working almost till my delivery, ate sensible, and only gained half the weight I had with my first. 11 years later I finally made a choice to stop making excuses for my poor health. My kids saw it as an awesome thing that their mom could drop 80lbs because of a lifestyle change, not a diet. I am now between 175-180lbs and I am working on getting more fit. Life is hard, but waking up one day an old woman regretting what I never attempted, but always dreamt about would be harder. Balancing family and your needs is harder then moving a mountain some days, but excuses are just that, excuses, and kids are watching how we live our lives. How terrible to show them it’s ok to except something that can be changed, but requires hard work, but too hard to bother with and you settle and say “It’s ok, this is who I am” when you know your inner self is screaming at you to get moving on your dream of re-gaining your body and your life!!

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  16. My body is very different from when I was 16/17. I uses to wear clothes that showed off my flat perfect tummy…but after my son was born I no longer show my tummy. I got pretty bad stretchmarks. I was able to get back in shape…but my breasts and tummy were never the same.

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  17. What a wonderful uplifting site:) I have had four children…I am 51 – first child at 23, last at 40, (caesars) so I am a little older than most here. I got to 130kg, but am 80 now, and the body is not too bad considering the above..
    What can I say? With age comes the maturity to tell others ‘I like myself and am proud of myself’? It took me until I was 40 to do that, but it seems that people are doing the same thing much younger, and good on you. I wish more could do it…it makes for a happy and contented life.

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  18. I’m sorry but I cant agree with these comments. The majority of my friends and I don’t look anything like the pictures on this site after giving birth. There is no secret, there is no magic, there is no exaggeration created by the media… simply eat properly, look after your skin during pregnancy and get a bit of exercise. After giving birth, it’s even easier to get rid of extra weight by breast-feeding, playing with your baby and being physically active. It will happen naturally.

    It seems like a lot of people here are using pregnancy as an excuse to let themselves go and be a bit lazy. A good body, skin and diet, like anything worthwhile, require some effort and discipline but you’ll live longer and feel better. Being overweight is unhealthy, excessive and wasteful, you’re taking in more food than your body needs and wasting the earths resources. It’s one thing to have womanly curves and quite another to be overweight and unhealthy.

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  19. Please remember to keep comments polite, we’re all entitled to an opinion but any personal attacks won’t be tolerated.

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  20. I agree with Maria,
    All I see is a lot of excuses for over eating during pregnancy!
    Example,If you look at Asian women in general after child birth they are hardly any different than before, Yes they still get a few stretch marks especially after more than 2 kids, Which is expected but nothing like what is shown here.
    Instead of pigging out on any cravings you get how about a little self control, Keep diet good, Go for a walk, Drink lots of water and rub some cream onto skin to keep it elastic.
    You DO NOT need to eat twice as much and double up on calories, It’s only something like 300 more calories a day which is nothing, Not even half a plate worth of quality food.

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  21. Remember… its media… by women…. for women…

    Most men know the difference between fantasy and reality… men magazines don’t pretend to be real… female magazines do.

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  22. When we create a new life within our body, there is a cost to how we will look afterwards. It is important to know this. As women we are made for having babies lets face it. The rewards of being a mother far out weigh the drawbacks. If you truly put your heart into mothering your children and do a good job of it, you cannot imagine how rewarding it can be. I know this because I had five of my own children. I have looked wistfully at myself in photographs pre babies as most women do, but you need to let go of the girl and let the woman emerge when you are a mother.

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  23. The second photo on your blog made me smile. Thank you.

    I put on 30 kg with both babies and with the second I lost 38kg so I actually have a better body now then pre pregnancy. That being said I do wish I had more photos of myself post pregnancy. I avoided cameras when I was large and I regret that. My body did a wonderful thing and I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate it more at the time.

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  24. I’m tired of magazines making woman feel as though we are in competition with each other. Its unhealthy and negative. I don’t read these magazines or buy products that betray woman as sex objects or just someone to bag.

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  25. Its such a relief to read these comments!!! I have had 4 children, and my stomach is covered in stretchmarks and it sags, but I just have to live with it and except it…I will never wear a bikini…I feel so envious of those young mums lucky enough to have the perfect body!

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  26. I hate that ‘real women’ phrase. I’m a mother and as real as any other woman but I don’t look like the women in the photos.

    I can assure other women that nobody would have ever mistaken me for a super model in my younger days but I didn’t get stretch marks and was lucky enough to return to my pre baby weight after having my children.

    Please be reminded that ‘real’ women come in all shapes and sizes.

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  27. Really? for goodness sakes, why are we women always so judgmental of each other?
    STOP BUYING THE MAGAZINES.
    They cannot survive and therefore cannot perpetuate unrealistic body/lifestyle expectations. No readers, no magazines, SIMPLE people, we have the power!!!

    Where is the emphasis on mums spending their time with their families? Instead we emphasize the “importance” of a flat belly. Not to mention this BS that we can “have it all”. A career, happy relationship, clean house and healthy body are all relatively easy when there are only 2 of you to consider. Add a baby/child to this life mix, and something has to give, its simple math. For some of us we our health takes the last priority behind the stresses of getting through an ordinary day.

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  28. I think it is great that sites like this are out there. Magazines are only in it for the money anyway and wouldn’t sell lots if they showed unglamorous pics – more money in showing pics of amazingly great looking celebs after-baby bodies.
    Personally, I was incredibly lucky regards stretchmarks – I was living in Darwin for most of my pregnancy so had plenty of humidity helping the skin – also, a Greek mate of mine up there made sure I never ran out of moisturiser for the stomach skin AND she insisted I use it AFTER the baby was born too (she hadn’t and had loads of stretch marks) because although the stomach wouldn’t get bigger the body has to shrink the stomach’s skin too and still needs moisturiser to help it along. Also, I was able to breastfeed which helps the stomach muscles contract back. The other thing that helped hugely, I think, was I went for long beach walks every second day with my young dog (she would muck up otherwise) and it kept my muscles at least existing. I didn’t have a car so usually walked everywhere before and after the birth and I was very very fit before getting pregnant. As for eating habits – I was incapable of cooking meat as the smell made me feel dreadful so I bought lunch (beef stroganoff and rice) every other day for the second half of my pregnancy and lived off rice and veges at home otherwise – except for lemon-lime Splices and frozen fruit juice icypoles so my stomach felt cool. I did try to drop the icypoles and take up milk instead, which I thought would be healthier, but I gained way too much weight in just ten days and my doc’ told me to stop that! I went back to calcium etc pills instead, couldn’t drink a lot of milk without it effecting me anyway so I don’t know why I did that – seemed like a good idea at the time…
    Generally I think a lot is genetics – how big the stomach is going to get in the first place. Also, a lot of it is being fit and having good muscular health beforehand – if you are physically lazy pre-pregnancy then you will have difficulties getting any desirable shape back after pregnancy – being slim doesn’t equal being fit – best to have the muscles working well beforehand if you want them too help you look good aferward pregnancy. I think too that the other thing is to be realistic – I doubt anybody could go through more than a couple of pregnancies and come out the other end looking as good as before the first – the comment somebody made about elastic stretching only so many times is a good one to remember. Of course the important thing is that we do love our kids and set them good examples of health and happiness – would we really swap them for our ‘gorgeous bods’ from pre-pregnancy? Do not answer this question when the kids are pestering you badly!

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  29. Whilst we are all entitled to criticise magazine covers & their contents – we women continue to buy them. We need to take some responsibility.

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  30. I find it really offensive that these pictures are labelled as being of ‘Real’ women … so what, if a woman works out after having a child and has a great body she is somehow not ‘real’ there is a multitude of fit and toned and healthy bikini division body builders out there who. all. have. had. kids. and they have 6 packs. the idea that a muscle is like a piece of elastic and can’t go back to its shape is as mis-informative, misleading, physically and scientifically untrue as the claim that ‘fat turns into muscle or muscle turns into fat’ – its not true. don’t use pregnancy as an excuse for celebrating an unhealthy physique by labelling it as ‘real’

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  31. I actually take exception to the word “real” used when describing a woman. I’m a woman who has had a couple of kids and don’t look like that. I’m not rich like a celebrity with a chef, personal trainer and surgeon on hand. BUT I am disciplined which means eating healthy, exercise and looking after my skin. It’s not rocket science. It doesn’t take hours out of my day. It’s just how it is. We all come in different shapes and sizes and we are all ‘real’. Let’s get that straight people.

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  32. Firstly, I think that it is fantastic to show ‘real’ post pregnancy bodies. There is so much in mainstream literature about the ‘perfect’ body which can obviously cause a lot of distress.. I think these photo sites should be careful not to scare off mothers-to-be though. Great post-pregnancy bodies need to be posted too (you know what I mean). I am 170cm and have been an ideal weight all my life. During my pregnancy I was very careful to avoid putting on excessive weight. I exercised carefully and closely watched my diet. Rapid weight gain= stretch marks! Now after three pregnancies and continued regular exercise and a careful watch of my weight, I honestly believe that I look much better than in my 20s. Yep- no stretch marks, no excess skin, six-pack, 3 babies. It truly amazes me the lengths that women go to make excuses for not looking after that temple of theirs- their body. Celebrities may have money, but you don’t need money to look after yourself, you just need WILLPOWER. Which, buy the way, these celebrities have in abundance. You can still spend time exercising/ eating well and looking after your offspring. Stop making excuses please!

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  33. I am terrified of post pregnancy. I would love to have children in the near future and reading all this makes me scared of not having my size 8, tight figure ever again after having children. plastic surgery will be a personal avenue for me…

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  34. Every woman is different and no two women look the same after childbirth. If you are comfortable and happy with yourself, you will not worry about the post baby body. It is totally unrealistic to compare yourself with other women, that only fuels more anxiety and expectations of what we should look like. Don’t read the stupid magazines with the size 8 models who have just had babies. Concentrate on what works for you. Eat well, exercise a little and look after your baby, that’s what is important and relevant in the early days after childbirth. It takes longer for some women to lose the post baby weight gain. However I will add that keeping a healthy weight gain during pregnancy will definitely help with getting back into shape after the baby is born. A lot of women put on too much weight during their pregnancy and that in turn impacts their long term health. I have been lucky to carry an ideal weight all my life even after 3 children. I have no stretch marks and now at the age of 50, I feel fantastic but I have never stopped moderate exercise and healthy eating. Willpower is the key.

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  35. Me, expecting baby #1 in 1970 to dr, after observing developing stretchmarks: ‘Can I do anything about them?’
    He: ‘No’.
    Result: Stretch marks way above my navel, and after the birth an apron flap of loose skin below.
    Three more children didn’t make much difference, as the damage was already done.
    I resent the remarks of you lucky women whose skin managed to balloon without stretching. It isn’t all down to willpower.

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  36. I too received a belly covered with stretchmarks from my first pregnancy fifteen years ago with no horrendous weight gain and endured two more pregnancies with minimal additional new stretchmarks from those but I honestly believe no one is to blame – I don’t think they can be prevented (particularly since some of mine are up to an inch wide). The apron flap of skin is debatable – I do think I probably could have toned it back to (nearly) where it was if I was willing to work hard at it, but frankly I wasn’t that bothered by it to want to exercise it back to its former self. Your body goes through so much carrying and birthing a baby, I think it’s absurd to think it would be in exactly the same condition as its pre-baby self. ~LK

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  37. I’m going to be controversial. I have had 4 children and breast fed them all and I do not have one stretch mark on me now. I exercised and ate what I wanted to when I wanted to when I was pregnant and within 6 weeks was back to my usual size. My figure is perfect. If I have encountered prejudice in my life it has been from other women annoyed with me for not getting all out of shape whilst pregnant. I’m sorry, but a little care and thought needs to be taken. Why do you think you need to gain a lot of weight or get stretch marks? Your body was made to have babies and recover from it.

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  38. Think about your mum or grandma
    Love them any less because of stretch marks, untoned tummies, tuck shop arms?
    No.
    This endless preconception with appearance means nothing to those who really love us and need us- our babies.
    Don’t abuse yourself with food and don’t go OTT with the health and fitness.. Just be a mum.

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  39. Carmel, I do not think you are controversial. I have a friend just like you…back to size 6, 2 months after having a baby, and she has never exercised or dieted. Reading the comments, I think the ‘elastic band’ theory is correct, however, I will go one step further. I have a question for mums….those who do not have stretchmarks….did your bump increase slowly? Did you have a ‘compact’ pregnancy? The reason I ask this, is that I think skin is like an elastic band, however, I think each individual skin has it’s limitations, which is not only ‘eat too much’ based. I am 175cm and was about 75-80kg (can’t remember exactly) and 23 at the start of my first pregnancy. I was physically fit although not through the gym type..country girl. I put on 16kgs overrall, however, and was fairly compact, even though son was born 8lbs 10.5ozs and 57cm. My stretch marks only appeared on my hips and tummy at 8 months and 3 weeks when my baby ‘did a 180′ at the last minute, and became breech…my skin couldn’t take the speed or amount of stretching. I watched them appear…quite amazing, although it didn’t hurt. Three more pregnancies and not one new stretch mark, even though I slowly put on more weight each time.

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  40. I’ve stopped buying magazines because I am over the…to be honest, photoshopped stars. Even in ads for ‘look eternally young’, they are photoshopped to blazes….these people do not exist! And if one of them happens to be ‘back in shape’ after a baby, it is because of two reasons…one, they are one of the rare few who can eat what they like and have a slender genetic build, and two, they hid away for 6 weeks, hire a trainer, starve themselves and come out all dolled up, most probably in a corset. Add god know what surgery and fillers and whatever else is available and you have….Barbie Doll Mum.
    I have been waiting for the ‘something’ which has the answers as to why people are ‘being lazy’ and putting on weight, as opposed to those who do not. Apparently the scientists have discovered the ‘eating gene’, and it comes with a ‘on’/'off’ switch…and you guessed it…most are locked ‘on’ for eat! Now, if they can work out how to switch to ‘off’, we will all be ‘naturally slim’:) I believe there is also and ‘aging gene’ also locked into the ‘on’ position…cheers dears!

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  41. Some of these comments are very judgemental. I have finger thickness stretch marks at the very bottom of my stomach which were from my son being turned by the dr during delivery. No massive weight gain, I ate well, exercised, drank loads of water and rubbed cream into my belly twice daily. My mum was also a size 6 before and after both pregnancies gaining minimal weight and still has stretch marks. If you look at the shape of a mother website it has all sorts of women. Even some who have had twins and not one stretch mark. I believe that genes do have a lot to do with it.

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  42. It all depends on your DNA. If you have good genes chances are your body will not look bad at all but you still have to do exercises to help your muscles which will also help the overall look. I had 3 children and even now in my mid 60′s do not have a body like any of the above but smooth skin still and no I do not exercise or anything these days. I did smear my body with Baby Oil when pregnant and had oil baths which I am sure helped. Everytime I felt my stomach pull I oiled it. I have no stretch marks and when pregnant I looked like a huge Momma so the size of the stomach is not the reason for the stretch marks etc. Movie stars eat well, exercise and often have operations to look as good as they do. It’s a matter of a combination of all things but sometimes life is just what it is and we have to accept that we are not all “Goddesses” but then our men are not all Adonis’s either even though they think they are. If you are unhappy with how you look there are things you can do to improve yourself that don’t cost anything like putting the baby in a pram and walking every day but the important thing is not to be so judgemental of yourself or others. Too much emphasis is put on how women look and often more so by women who should be supportive and not critical. Best option is to be healthy and happy and learn to live in the skin you have and improve it if you want to.

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  43. I am 75 yrs young and have had 6 children and I do not have one stretch mark. but I do have the flap of skin in the lower area, So what, I am healthy, my kids/grandkids love me for what I am. Since I got married in 1960 I was 6 stone ten pounds ( cannot convert to kilos) I have put on 2 stone since, As I live alone and hate cooking my diet is really bad,a handfull of bikkies sometimes for dinner,lots of bread. as long as I wake each day who cares what my body looks like.Be thankfull, I have all my limbs, eyesight, hearing,memory lots of people don’t

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  44. I’d be interested to find out from those who have no stretch marks how old they were when they had their children? The skin’s production of collagen and elastin slow as we age, resulting in less ‘stretchy’ skin and a higher likelihood of stretch marks – it’s the same reason we develop wrinkles/character lines as we grow older. Younger skin is more likely to stretch and bounce back than an older woman’s. Just as some people’s faces become more wrinkled than others’, so it is with bodies and stretchmarks. There are some things you can do to reduce their likelihood but there are no guarantees those things will work for everyone.

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  45. It’s genes and lifestyle,my wife has had 4 children and there is not a stretch mark to be seen.However just like Linda she oiled regularly and did exercise as a matter of course,we have no money so a 3k walk to pick up a toddler was just part of everyday.
    But at the same time we both smoked so everything is a qualifier.
    And sometimes nature is just not fair
    [makes sense she is a bitch after all]
    Debra also has a point the speed of pregnancy changes makes a difference as well I know of teenage girls that have stretch marks simply because of the rate at which they grew.
    No answers sometimes you just get what you are given.

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  46. My wife (40s) has 3 children and not a single stretch mark. When she exercises she has a perfect figure which in some ways is nicer than a young woman. I say that because occasionally she will relax for a few months. Why not?

    From observation of her, and seeing a pattern develop here: use baby oil every day, after every shower, always. Infact, she has been doing this all her life. It seems this is the secret!

    You do not have to be a celeb – just have the same willpower! We like to knock celebs but they work hard too.

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  47. Oh I so love this, it’s about time we all got real about our bodies after babies. I am fifty and still look like i been run over by a truck (stretch marks). I don’t know any mother that looks like those hollywood people.

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  48. hmmm.
    Isn’t it all just a combination of genetics, chronological age, lifestyle, diet, luck, etc etc? Mainly genetics methinks
    Me- three kiddoes. First at 29. Last one at 35ish.
    I like to jog when I get the rare chance, up to 10kms. Clears out the cobwebs in the body and brain :)
    Despite being considered lean- I still have a wobbly kangaroo pouch.. C’est la vie.
    Every body is a badge of honour. Please remember that.

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  49. Ruth – I don’t think age has anything to do with the appearance of stretch marks. I was 31,33 and 36 when I had my children and do not have any stretch marks. I have been size 6 – 8 all of my adult life, and put on between 11 – 13 kilos with all pregnancies. My weight and tummy are back to what they were pre pregnancy. I think it is more to do with genetics. My mother was the same as me after 4 children. As far as these pictures go – ALL women are real women, and no – these women should not be judged for their post baby body, but neither should women who don’t look like this. Suggesting that any mother who does not look like this is not “real” is very insulting.

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  50. what a crock – I have the best body – beautiful size 8 = rock hard and dead flat stomach even 3 years after having my daughter.

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  51. Ewwww! Personally, I don’t want my tummy photos exposed but I do want to share my tummy story to inspire more women to love their bodies and feelgood about themselves.

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  52. I am a proud mother of three and relate to the pictures above. It’s fabulous to see images like this in the media. I LOVE it. I tried very hard to embrace my ‘flesh apron’ and bobbies that arrived around my navel…but after 17 years of trying – I found I really couldn’t. I was a little neurotic about it. Then – I made a crazy decision to go to Thailand and get surgery and I’m so very happy. It was the bestest thing I ever did for myself. I am not longer neurotic, just comfortable. I know everyone is very different, we all have different psyches and I am happy with the choices I’ve made x

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  53. How sad that people are judging the pictures and saying that its because those people didn’t look after themselves etc. Thats simply not true. Thanks for once again telling us whose skin did not bounce back, that we are flawed!

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  54. sorry. but my belly never look,t like that even after 7 children, I may not be normal then i was always very thin

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  55. I think it’s disgusting to say this is what a ‘REAL’ mother looks like.

    I know plenty of women who trust me – are very much real – did not look like this after giving birth. They had worked hard before and after to maintain their health and body. For some it just came naturally. And some, no matter how hard they work will just naturally look like this. It’s life and everybody has a different body and reaction to things.

    How disgusting to say what is or isn’t normal or real when it comes to bodies during or after childbirth. It’s all beautiful, and it’s all normal. Get a less narrow minded life.

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  56. I’m sorry but this is PURE GENETICS!!!

    Sorry ladies. I was a size 6 and a model I fell preg in my marriage at 19.I had a stressful relationship, and hormone issues affected my preg. so with stress and hormones my perfect body depleted very young, while I was very healthy. I went from 48kg to 90kg in my preg which was scary. Of course after birth I went down to size 6-8….

    But point of the story is I was young, fit and healthy… but stress and hormones cause major stretch-marks – and no one in either side of the family had this problem. YES i used expensive oils ever single day of my preg – but It was hardwired to happened this way. I had never had stretchys before and this was the only time I got them.

    The shape of my body now is very lean, but muscle tone is different… not bad but different. I have dropped down to 45kg (at 5’7″ – thats pretty slim) and worked out, but it doesn’t effect what destiny has written in your biological make up.

    My mother and most of my friends were very blessed not to have this, even though I was more healthy. Its just how it turns out.

    I think everyone should stop knocking others because we don’t know everyones stories, to bash on about it.

    It used to depress me and I used to feel awful about being as I though ‘deformed’ especially after having a body women in the street would comment on… but know I know my worth is much more. I am very health conscious, still slim and still have stretch marks. ButI don’t care anymore – because I don’t let it define me. I don’t buy into media and I pity women who are geared purely on good looks as their defining essence. I was in the industry and I think it as so empty and manufactured… Life goes on and there is more to me than my outer shell.

    Be real ladies and look at life – not what others are doing but what is important.

    The body changes so much after birth

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  57. Can someone please explain how exercise is going to make skin regain its elasticity?

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  58. These comments just highlight how judgemental we women are of eachother and ourselves. We should be on the same side. How about supporting eachother, we are all different. And size 10 mums busy berating above…I look just like you(maybe not as toned) and I don’t believe it is your or anyone’s right to dictate how others should look post pregnancy. I think it’s great to have images that add balance to what the tabloids are putting out there.

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  59. U have to get bek in shape …theres no excuse…

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  60. I’m disgusted at the vitriol here for women who look ‘good’ or ‘fit’ after having a child. Their ‘secret’ is a simple one: they eat healthily and keep fit whilst pregnant. I cannot believe people attack these women for their appearance. It’s bullying. You’d be up in arms if somebody criticised a new mum who was ‘unfit’ or had a ‘flabby tummy’. FYI – all women are real women. This article is just reinforcing women to be judgemental of one another.

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  61. I given birth to 2 children and have been very fortunate to have kept very fit and well with a balance diet. No stretch marks and plenty of pure olive oil rubbing all areas of my body. Keeping health and fit is best be happy to have a healthy normal baby. ( what ever normal is these days ) Happy mum Happy babies. <3

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  62. My body doesn’t look like that, even after 5 babies. I have very fair skin and probably 2 tiny white stretchmarks on one hip.I think these pics suggest that all women who have had babies will look gross under their clothes. I’ve kept fit throughout and although I agree it might just be good genes, you can’t use having children as an excuse to let you’re body go to hell…

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  63. i was 15 when i found out i was pregnant with my 1st child.this should of been a happy time where my heart was filled with joy but unfortunately my pregnancy was the result of rape.im sharing this as its not just physical,in the genes..its mentally,spiritually an amazing experience ur body gos trough.i was 38kg..gained only 12kg..drs were actually ttelling me not to put on any more weight as my small frame could barely contain my baby.at 7months i was put in hospital till the birth as the baby was ”pushing on my kidneys”&he got ”stuck” in a strange position which made my whole right hand side from my waist down to tops thighs covered with inch wide stretch marks.on the left side NOTHING.i breastfed for 14 months&stretch marks all over.-this was 1989-i did end up loosing a kidney but exact reason why??my point is EVERY pregnancy is different&should be looked upon just in that way.EVERY BODY is different!i look at my body..which at 52kg looks very slim&taunt in clothes but underneath is very diffrent,but i look at these like battle wounds,we went through an amazing experience our bodys do all this in as little as 9months&to have bore a beautiful son im proud of my body..its only if i date again i hope ill have an understanding man.at least i can laugh!-

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  64. I don’t like how you’ve said “real women”. We are all “real women, some just have more time/funds to put into their appearance.

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  65. I have had 6 children that being 3 natural and 3 c-section, i have fluctuated in weight i have a few stretch marks and 1 large c-section scar, i know myself that my body isn’t perfect but i wont lie down and take it, my kids call it chubby wubby lol but i dont like what i see so i will strive to be better toned and flatter but i dont think no matter what i do i will be with out the what i call the apron :D but after how many i have had i dont think i need to look better my husband loves me the way i am :D

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  66. I don’t think it’s about genetics. Seeing my own mums prolific stretch marks I practically bathed in body butter and whether that was what led to me miraculously not getting a single one I don’t know… It could also have been the swimming, yoga and jogging I did and the healthy diet I followed. It’s not about having the resources and like others said it’s not rocket science. Whatever effort or lack of effort you put In to your body will reward you in kind. And women need to be completely honest with themselves and not look for excuses. 99% of the trouble comes from the crap we put in our mouths. I yoyo a bit and it’s always from the food sneaking up on me. It takes way more effort to lose the weight than it does to stack it on. Having said all that, I always tell new mums upset with their body image to be kinder to themselves. We are our own worst enemy and women need positive reinforcement. While I do believe looking like these pictures is avoidable with effort, women need to accept the way they are after the birth (I had to accept my boobs now needed positive reinforcement or 10k worth of lifting!) and try to enjoy the miracle you’ve created. Once you’ve got your head around keeping a baby going and perhaps started to get some actual sleep you can worry about making a plan for your body. But you can always cut out crap food as a good start and watch your portion sizes.

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  67. I am a 40 year old woman who has had 4 children, all close in age.

    I have never looked like that and have never been a fitness person or a dieter. I am one of the ‘luckier’ ones but I never look at these images and think “they are lazy” etc. I just accept that we are all very different and that is ok.

    I applaud all mothers and beautiful women for nurturing and caring not for the way they look! Usually women are the harshest critics of other women…

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  68. I was petrified of getting stretchmarks like my mums in my first pregnancy so I rubbed Vitamin E cream & even pure Vitamin E oil on my tummy as soon as it started bulging. But at 32 weeks my skin started splitting, the red long marks just kept coming. Of course they looked like normal greyish ones after birth. I was a size 8 before pregnancy & put on 13 kilos, my baby weighed 4kg & the placenta weighed 2kg. The fluid I lost must’ve been another 2kg, so I only had 5 to go, but it just dropped off me easily and left me skinnier than I was before but with a saggy skin stretched stomach. My second pregnancy was the same & left me with even more stretch marks & saggy skin, not much fat until my babies were toddlers. My stomach actually looks better with a bit of fat on it as it fills out that awful saggy stretched skin & makes it look a bit more even. My sister also got stretchmarks, but my cousin didn’t get any. She was thin like me & still is. Her labors were quick & mine were slow, we were both very fit before, during & after our pregnancies & ate healthily. I think stretchmarks are more genetic than preventable and weight gain can be a bit genetic too although a healthy diet & exercise certainly helps. I’ve got friends who have stretchmarks & friends who don’t, overweight friends & slim friends. We need to be more accepting & less judgmental of each other & stop looking at those magazines if it’s unachievable for you.

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  69. Choose your parents carefully! I got very fat in both my pregnancies – 20-25kg gains – and I don’t have stretch marks.

    I lost the weight slowly and with a healthy approach… and then, when my youngest was 3 – I was diagnosed with cancer.

    That got the weight down!

    Now I consider every day above the ground to be an awesome day and I look after my nutrition and fitness because I want to see my kids grow up.

    Perspective!

    You are most beautiful when you are making your loved ones laugh/ kissing your babies/ enjoying a quiet moment. Forget magazines… complete tosh.

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  70. Fantastic idea – I wish this was available 25 years ago as it would certainly help with a new Mother’s self esteem and confidence.

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  71. As a photographer I can give any woman that wash-board look, the thin legs, the sculptured bottom, a breast lift, you name it, it is as simple as opening Photoshop. 90% of what you see in magazines is retouched. The 10% that are not retouched are corrected with lighting etc.
    No one surely expects that published photographs are taken with a happy-snap-camera and by someone whose claim to being a photographer is owning an phone camera. Photographers, all of us, are paid to make people look better than even God intended.

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  72. Magazines and advertisers need to get real. Show it like it is. To stop trying to convince us about what we should look like for profit. Photoshopping should be illegal. And I believe men’s magazines do pretend to be real where pics of females are concerned, dressed or undressed. As much as women’s magazines actually. If men were to use fantasy with their imaginations the way us women are expected to, instead of with pics that are not real, most women wouldn’t feel so inadequate. And the men who read and look at that stuff wouldn’t be so delusional. As for the female body in pregnancy. It’s all about being healthy and staying healthy, before, during and after. And hopefully being successful with breast feeding your baby. Helps to pull those internal muscles back into shape.

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  73. Personally I think both of those photo’s are really sexy!! Hi 5 to all the Mums out there…

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  74. I find it interesting that all anyone thinks about or worry’s about for there self worth is what their body looks like per or post pregnancy. Surely who were are as a person, as in value relates to so much more. We may not all have perfect bodies as according to society but maybe we should celebrate our life. Beauty is more than skin deep. But unfortunately society says you have to be a certain size to be beautiful. But every body is beautiful is someone’s eyes, whether a partner, a child or a parents eyes. One who are we to judge someone because they are not the ideal.

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  75. I have had 3 kiddies, first being at 25, I was a tall thin model, fit, and healthy, I got some stretch marks at around 15 from growing tall really fast on my hips. I didn’t gain much weight and stayed very active, and did all the Vit E and bio oils, did not want stretch marks, but I got em! I lost all my baby weight quickly and my weight and size is back to normal and I am very fit still and my stomach is marked although it is flat! I understand there are women that bounce back and there are ones that do not, I do not slam either side, The ones that bounce back did the same as me, and yet I got stretch marks….Its unfair but hey that is what life dealt me, it upsets me but I am fitter than ever, just my tummy is marked which upsets me greatly so comments like those above that state “HEY I bounced back, I have the perfect body, take care of yourselves and you too can look like that” Is just bull, you are just one of the lucky ones, and that is what it is, PURE LUCK OF THE DRAW!!!!!

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  76. Remember that these celebradies where photo shopped before they had their babies, what makes you think they weren’t after the bby was norn.

    My mother, from Hungary, Used to tell me that traditionally, to get rid of the baby stomach, that as soon as the baby was born, the mother would have a wet/damp towel or sheet wrapped around the stomach.
    This would be done for some time after the baby was born. Most of the births were at home and this was done as a matter of course. When she arrived in Australia and had two babies in a hospital, the nursing staff were shovked as they had never heard of the practice. Regardless thats what she did in the hispital. She used a girdle to make sure the wet cloth was kept in place. She never had stretch marks or a saggy stomach. She had 5 children.

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  77. How you are before and during pregnancy largely dictates how you will look after pregnancy. What you weigh, how fit you are, what your diet is like, how much you exercise etc.

    I object strongly to the title of this article: “The Shape of a Mother – what real women look like after having a baby”

    No… it should be titled what SOME women look like after having a baby.
    So, women who are the same weight post-pregnancy and who do not have flaps of loose sagging skin after giving birth are not “mothers” or “real women”?
    That is just as insulting to women as the “tabloid magazine pictures of celebrities post-pregnancy” that you are criticizing in the article !!

    I am the mother of 3 children, now aged 12, 10 and 6. I gained around 8kg during each pregnancy. I exercised pre, during and after pregnancy. I am 41 now and I still have the same body I had before the first pregnancy almost 13 years ago. Still have abs, and no flab anywhere. Yes I watch what I eat and exercise 6 days a week. And work full time.
    I get up at 4.00am in order to fit it all in.
    My gym is full of fit, toned, full time working mothers just like me, every morning.

    This is not a one-up(wo)manship contest. But please don’t suggest that if a mother doesn’t look like those ladies in the photos, her “shape” is not that of a mother, nor is she a “real woman”.

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  78. So, what if you don’t have stretch marks and a flabby belly? That doesn’t make you any less real than the rest of the mothers out there!
    I am a mum, have been fortunate enough to not have any stretch marks and be able to show my midriff as I got back to my pre baby body. I work hard for it thou! daily gym sessions at 6am!
    I am 37years of age and very proud of my body and do get offended when i see this type of headline insinuating that if you don’t have a particular body type you are not a “real women”
    I can show you lots of girls that have babies and do not look like the women in your pictures and you know what? To them that is what real women look like after having babies. It is all about accepting yourself, looking after yourself before, during and after pregnancy and if the world is more accepting of our differences… it will certainly be a better place.

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  79. I think this article is so biased and is just as wrong as the magazine articles they refer to, I have had my second baby 8 weeks ago, on leaving hospital I was straight back into my size 8 clothes, I do not have a stretch mark or cellulite on any part of my body. I had a tiny post baby bump which is totally gone now. I ate well during my pregnancy, I eat well now. I do not starve myself. The lack of stretch marks is down to oiling myself day and night with bio oil but the rest was just normal healthy eating habits during both my pregnancies. The reality is the post baby bod looks different from woman to woman because we are all different. If you’re Miranda Kerr and your body bounces back straight away then good on you, if you bear the ‘battle wounds’ of carrying your precious bub for the rest of your life then so be it too. I think way to much emphasis is put on this issue. I’m a size 8 and no less of a mum!

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  80. I too protest at the idea that this is what REAL women look like. I don’t look like that and I can assure you I am completely real, and I know several mothers like me. I am 41 and I have given birth to 4 children aged 14 down to 7. I was thin before and I am thin now (52kg, 168 cm tall). I have a few faint stretch marks beneath my bellybutton and the skin is looser, but not saggy at all. Whenever people ask me how I stay in shape I have to reply it’s just genetic, because I don’t put any effort into exercising. Lots of women like me find it difficult to put on weight. It doesn’t make us less real!

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  81. Ladies Stop!

    Enjoy that beautiful body of yours after pregnancy, and be happy to be alive you and your beautiful baby, yes me I almost die, had a near death experience, straight after giving birth, thought I will never see my baby again, and miracle I am still here!!!

    Everyday I am so happy to be here enjoying my beautiful baby.

    And those celebrities, pfff, eating a piece of salad before, during after pregnancy, bullshit, all this to be Photoshop after by a bunch of gays who created the mode for their ideal little world, and they are pay millions for that, come on get real everybody!!!!Wake up to the real world of life!!!

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  82. I just had my second child 5 weeks ago. Initially my belly was very swollen following the caesarian. I looked as though I hadn’t had a child! It has taken 4 weeks but my stomach is looking much better and many people have commented I look as though I have not just had a child.

    I am however, from an obese family who simply enjoy food (mum is 5’3″ and weighs in at 90kg – pretty good for her) and have had to be very strict on myself throughout my life. Ive chosen to eat healthily during the pregnancy and I’m grateful to not have a stretch mark and sagging skin. I certainly can say I do not have a P/T or good genetics (my mum is riddled with stretch marks poor thing) and on the scheme of things I’m an old mum at 40. I’ve eaten good food and walked everyday during and after pregnancy and prior to falling pregnant exercised by running to maintain my health and more importantly my shape.

    I understand some women struggle with body image and these pictures are good and give perspective but they made me worry how I would look following having a second child. I’m certainly not back to my original shape but am well on my way. Do not give up on returning to a healthy shape or initially worry about how you look after giving birth but eating healthily is the key.

    I was surprised by my body’s ability to settle back after 2 children and particularly aware now that I am much older than when my daughter was born but am focused on a healthy body but all in good time.

    I think this website makes us more aware of how our bodies change.

    Congratulations to all mothers. We are so blessed to our have our littlies.

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  83. I don’t think this is an accurate portrayal of a real woman after having a baby, I am 29 with two children the youngest being 10 months. I do not look like either of those pictures, I do not have the time to exercise regularly and I try to eat a well balanced diet, I have a few stretch marks but my body has bounced back and I am not far off my original weight before children. I think this article is wrong and is not doing the right thing by placing fear of pregnancy in pregnant women and those contemplating a family… these photos are a minority and the mum’s I see everyday do not look like this, everyone is different and many people bounce back without much fuss.

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