‘The baby weight will melt away with breastfeeding.’ When my milk never came in, I was devastated. I hated my body.’: Mom discusses postpartum self-love, ‘You’re worthy at any size’

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“Everyone’s journey with self-love is different. We all come from different backgrounds, different families, different stories. Today I’m sharing my journey to self-love and being body positive. I want to preface by saying there is no real ending to a body-positive journey. Nobody, including myself, is one hundred percent happy with how they look all the time. It truly is a constant journey, and here is mine.

My body image issues began very young. At ten years old, I vividly remember hating how I looked. I felt as if I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, or good enough to be friends with the other girls. I felt like I was somehow inadequate to everyone else because my size tag didn’t say zero. I held that number on my jeans to the highest standards. That number was a direct measure of my self worth at that time in my life. Around fourteen is when things took a turn for the worse. I developed an eating disorder at age fourteen and that lasted until I was sixteen. I suffered from bulimia. Every time I ate, it sent me into a spiral of binge eating, feeling guilty about binging, and then starving myself until I felt physically ill and needed to eat again.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

During that time, I truly felt my worst. Any inch of fat I could pinch on my arms, my stomach, or my legs, I was convinced made me ugly and I needed to get rid of it. I also struggled with self-harm for eight years as a teenager. This greatly affected my self-confidence. I was always covering myself so people wouldn’t see me, as if wearing baggy clothing and long sleeves during summer wasn’t drawing attention to myself. Feeling confident about my body and myself seemed so out of reach at that time in my life. I wish I could go back and tell my teenage self how much better things got, and that things would be okay.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

I’m not entirely sure what switched in my head after high school, but it was like I could finally breathe again. I started to pursue what I really wanted in life: motherhood. Being a mom was one of the only things that motivated me to work through my issues in high school. I did fall pregnant twice at fifteen. Unfortunately, I miscarried both times. After that, I knew once I found the right person I would be a mom someday.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

In May of 2018, my partner and I decided to start trying for a baby. Three months later, in August of 2018, we were pregnant with our little boy, my rainbow baby. Around that time my body confidence shot through the roof. I really started to appreciate and love my body where it was at. I have never been the skinniest person. I’ve been double-digit sizing for years. None of that mattered to me anymore. My body was creating life. I changed the way I talked about myself to a more positive light and it helped so much. Instead of getting down on myself about gaining weight, I was telling myself my body was making room and nurturing my baby and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

Getting to that point wasn’t easy, and I never want to make it seem like body positivity is an easy journey. It took years of my life for me to even be comfortable in a tank top in the summer. It took so much work mentally. I stopped making jokes at my own expense about my weight to make others laugh. I started speaking highly of myself, even if I didn’t believe it. It’s amazing how much negativity we speak about ourselves, and sometimes we don’t realize it until we start paying attention.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

When I was pregnant, around thirty weeks, I started getting stretch marks. Before I got pregnant, I said to myself I wasn’t going to worry about that and that it wouldn’t bother me. That was definitely easier said than done. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stretch marks. I love my stretch marks now, fifteen months postpartum. They are a beautiful reminder of what my body did, making my sweet baby boy. But back then, it almost put me right back to where I was when I was fifteen. I would love to say that it went away as quickly as it came, but that wasn’t the case for me.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

When Avery was born in May of 2019, I had a whole new appreciation for my body. My body carried him for a grueling forty-one (yes, you read that right, forty-one) weeks. My body birthed him into my arms safely.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

Six hours postpartum, I looked at myself for the first time postpartum. I took a photo with the intent of using it as my before photo before breastfeeding magically melted the weight off of me. Yes, that is what I believed. During my pregnancy, I had a multitude of women tell me I shouldn’t worry about the baby weight because it will melt away with breastfeeding. Not only is that incorrect, but it also made me feel like I absolutely had to breastfeed if I had any hope of losing weight postpartum. When my milk never came in and I was unable to breastfeed, I felt devastated. I hated my body postpartum. I had a mom pouch, wider hips, wider thighs, and lots of new stretch marks. I felt the same way I did in high school. Inadequate. I saw all these moms on Instagram three days after having their babies in jeans going out for coffee with their babies. I felt like a failure already at one week postpartum. What was I doing wrong? Why can’t I look like them? Should I be feeling this bad?

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

This is around the time I started posting more content on Instagram with a purpose. I was seeking other moms who felt the way I did, to not feel alone. Nobody seemed to be talking about the realities of postpartum body positivity. I made the nerve-wracking decision to post my very first body positive post on Instagram at one month postpartum. I posted this photo of my belly in leggings and out of leggings. I wanted to help other moms feel like they’re not alone. It’s okay if you’re still wearing maternity leggings for months after you have our baby because they’re all that fit. You don’t have to feel back to yourself one week, one month, or even one year after you have your baby. Ever since then, I have found a new perspective on myself I never would have had I not posted that photo. I found an amazing community of supportive moms that lifted me up and made me feel like I was enough. So many moms related to my post and praised me for being so vulnerable and showing the reality of postpartum life. It goes to show if you’re ever feeling like you’re alone, chances are you’re not.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

For over a year now, I have been sharing my body positivity journey. Now I feel so much love for my body and all it has done for me. My body has carried four babies and birthed one. My body gets me from point A to point B every single day. My body carries my toddler to his crib every night and plays with him all day long. I do struggle sometimes. I don’t believe I will ever be one hundred percent happy with myself. But that’s okay. One of the biggest things I have realized over the course of the last year is being plus size isn’t a bad thing. You are not less than anyone else just because you’re plus size.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

I love my rolls, my thick thighs, and my bigger belly. I want to teach my son you can love yourself at any size. I want him to love himself, regardless of what he looks like. I don’t want him to feel the way I felt as a teenager. Speaking highly of myself around him is something I have started implementing into our daily routine and once he can talk, I hope he says just how much he loves himself.

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

If there is anything I could say to my younger self, it would be she is worthy of love. That she is lovable at a size ten, twelve, fourteen, or any size I would ever be. Because everyone is deserving of love, at any size. Being skinny won’t solve your problems if you don’t love yourself where you are now. Being plus size is hard sometimes. Society doesn’t value plus size women a lot of the time. I am here to say society doesn’t dictate your value, and I hope if you took anything from this article, it’s you are worthy of love at any size, and you deserve it.”

Courtesy of Zoey Wilson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Zoey Wilson from Canada. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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