'I couldn't believe it was me': New mom gets real about post-baby body

<i>(Photo: Ruth Lee/Instagram)</i>
(Photo: Ruth Lee/Instagram)

Lifestyle blogger Ruth Lee followed all the necessary steps to ensure childbirth was as gentle on her body as possible. She exercised, took “the best prenatals” and “used every kind of stretch mark prevention you could think of.”

The 25-year-old also did something many moms-to-be do these days: followed pregnant models on Instagram as they, too, share their journeys and advice. “When they photographed themselves pool-side five minutes postpartum, I thought, ‘Wow! I hope that happens to me!'” Lee admitted in an Instagram post last week.

Instead, the young mom was shocked by the postnatal changes to her body, saying, “I couldn’t believe it was me.”

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“I took hours of birthing classes, read every book under the sun, and studied natural childbirth my whole pregnancy,” Lee wrote in a post to her Instagram account. “I STILL ended up with a traumatic labour, caesarean section, scars, stretch marks and unfortunately the inability to breastfeed long term.”

I’m posting this tonight with tears in my eyes. I can’t help it. The pregnancy and birth of my little girl was the most amazing thing I’ve ever been a part of. Some people don’t want kids, and I respect that. Really, I do. But for me, You see, I always have. When it finally happened though, it was so hard to fully comprehend. Pregnancy and babies, I mean that’s common. It’s everywhere. But when it’s YOUR body and YOUR baby, it’s so different. You literally feel like it’s a miracle. Because, when it happens to you, it is. What brings me to Instagram tonight, is the post-baby. I followed SO many pregnant models during my pregnancy. And when they photographed themselves pool-side 5 minutes postpartum, I thought, “wow! I hope that happens to me!” I was 25 when I gave birth. I was healthy. I was young. I stayed active during my pregnancy. I took the best prenatals, went to the gym, used every kind of stretch mark prevention you could think of. I took hours of birthing classes, read every book under the sun, and studied natural childbirth my whole pregnancy. I STILL ended up with a traumatic labor, cesarean section, scars, stretch marks, and unfortunately the inability to breastfeed long term. I took this picture a few days after I gave birth, when my PPD really first reared its head into my life. I took this and actually was horrified. I couldn’t believe it was me. I’m sharing it because I know in my heart that there are people out there that struggle with inadequacy. That might think they are not beautiful, that they might be ruined, less worthy, or not good enough. Yours might not actually be physical scars, but maybe, a failed relationship, a difficulty in your career, a mental struggle, money issues, or just feeling lost in life. Be kind to yourself. And know that you are not alone. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t let social media taint your view of what is beautiful, what is REAL. And above all, know that if you are struggling, I am here. I have an open inbox or (if you actually know me) an open door. #stopcensoringmotherhood #nofilter

A post shared by Ruth Lee (@baybayruth) on Feb 23, 2017 at 10:32pm PST

Although Lee describes the birth of her daughter as “the most amazing thing I’ve ever been a part of”, her photos revisit the early days following her delivery, when postnatal depression “first reared its head into [her] life.”

Having compared herself to other expectant moms she followed on Instagram, Lee admits she was “horrified” by her own body after giving birth. She’s since taken to social media to help “stop censoring motherhood” and provide a “no filter” look at a post-baby physique.

You guys must be thinking I’m crazy to post these, ammmmmiright? Society will look at the first picture (2 days Postpartum) and be offended. Cankles. Messy hair. No make up. A DIAPER, for goodness sake. (We ogle and thrive off of the images of women looking like beautiful unicorn fairy models after birthing humans. ???? whyyyyyy.) Not my usual look. But guess what? I made my husband take that picture because it was REAL. I felt victorious. I was probably in my weakest condition ever ever ever, yet I felt so strong. Society will look at the second picture (8 weeks Postpartum) and be offended. Omg stretch marks are you serious?! How embarrassing. ???? (zoom in, I dare you!) I am so sick of people acting like stretch marks don’t happen. Yes, some of you amazing ladies have been kissed by the angel of luck and managed to birth a watermelon without so much as a whisper of an imperfection, but I am not one of you. And most women aren’t. Yet, it’s so rare to see evidence that stretch marks exist. It’s so rare, in fact, that we are forced to view them as ugly or uncommon. ????Let’s change that. I find them so bad ass and beautiful. Pregnancy and motherhood are no joke. We earned these. ⚡️ I’m grateful, so so so grateful for this body of mine, saggy skin and stretchmarks included. I can’t wait for Presley to get older and for me to show those stripes off to her. (& tell her that I have them from growing her beautiful little soul inside me.) ???????????????????? I LOVE MY MOM BOD! #takingbackpostpartum #8weekspostpartum #fourthtrimester #babymomma #tigerstripes

A post shared by Ruth Lee (@baybayruth) on Jan 12, 2017 at 12:07pm PST

Ultimately, Lee hopes her pictures will empower other moms struggling with body-image to appreciate their strength and beauty — “imperfections” and all.

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“I feel amazed and grateful that I was able to conceive and carry a baby full term,” she said. “Our bodies are not ruined after pregnancy. We need to stop letting social media contort our views on what is ‘beautiful.’ Motherhood is beautiful. Scars are beautiful. Stretch marks. Imperfection. Loose skin.”

Let us know what you think by tweeting @YahooStyleCA!