These celebrity moms and influencers will help inspire postpartum body confidence and body positivity.
It'd be an understatement to say that pregnancy changes a woman's body. Women at a healthy weight typically gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy and many end up with stretch marks, loose skin and cellulite. Some are left with C-section scars, diastasis recti (a condition in which your abdominal muscles separate as a result of pregnancy) or urinary incontinence.
All that said, you just created a fully formed human — you're a superhero. And of course your body is going to change!
Acceptance, however, is way easier said than done, especially with the societal pressure to "bounce back" to your pre-motherhood weight ASAP. Let these body-positive celebs and influencers inspire you to embrace your postpartum self, stretch marks and all.
1. “I should treat myself how I would treat my daughter.” —Emily Skye
If you follow Australian trainer Emily Skye on Instagram, you know all about her pregnancy struggles. She's opened up about the baby blues, cellulite during pregnancy, how she barely recognizes her body anymore and struggling with body-image issues.
"Sometimes I do beat myself up & compare myself to others & don't feel 'good enough.'" she wrote. "When I feel like this I remind myself of the things I preach to others — that I should treat myself how I would treat my daughter Mia. I should tell myself what I'd tell her & love myself the way I love her. If we can't love & care for ourselves how are we supposed to love & care for others?!"
2. “It’s the site of a miracle now.” —Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington is private about her personal life, but after giving birth to her first child, Isabel, Washington told Self that her body was the "site of a miracle now. I don't want to be pre-miracle." So instead of working out to get her "pre-baby body" back, she works out for other reasons. "I have to take care of myself in order to live life the way I want to," she told Self. "It's important to have rest days. But in the long run, if I don't work out for, like, three days, I feel worse, not better."
Read more: 8 Celebrities Share Their Fitness Secrets
3. “My body has given me the greatest gift of my life.” —Hilary Duff
Actress Hilary Duff shared an important message with women (and all her Instagram followers) when she posted a pic holding her son at the beach: "Since websites and magazines love to share 'celeb flaws' — well I have them! My body has given me the greatest gift of my life: Luca, 5 years ago," she wrote. "I'm turning 30 in September and my body is healthy and gets me where I need to go," she continued. "Ladies, let's be proud of what we've got and stop wasting precious time in the day wishing we were different, better and unflawed." That's a message every woman can take to heart — postpartum or not.
4. “I’m a mother, and I look like one.” —Olivia Wilde
In an interview with Shape after having her first child, Otis, Olivia Wilde discussed the unrealistic expectations mothers face after giving birth. "The truth is, I'm a mother, and I look like one," she said. "I believe in a world where mothers are not expected to shed any physical evidence of their childbearing experience."
The mother of two has also been a big proponent of breastfeeding: She breastfed Otis in a now-infamous Glamour shoot and posted a photo to Instagram of her breastfeeding her daughter Daisy with the hashtag #neverunderestimatethepowerofawoman. "It's a complex issue, but the one thing that's not complex is that people should be allowed to breastfeed wherever they want, whenever they want," she told Yahoo.
5. “I had a hard time in the beginning.” —Massy Arias
If all this body love has you asking, "Why don't I feel this way?" know that it's totally normal to stress about all the changes you're going through. "It took me a while to get comfortable looking at the different changes happening in my body," personal trainer Massy Arias told People. "Just like any woman would tell you, changes can be emotional as much as they are physical, and I had a hard time in the beginning."
But she felt better once she realized all of the amazing things her body was capable of — and not just in the gym. "The stretch marks, the cellulite, the discoloration of the skin and even the hair loss were all worth it once I had her in my arms," she said.
Read more: What Massy Arias Says You Need to Do to Get Stronger
6. “You just have to be gentle with yourself.” —Reese Witherspoon
After having her third child, Tennessee James, in 2012, Reese Witherspoon told ExtraTV, "I don't' know if I'm bouncing back. I'm slowly crawling back. You just have to be gentle and patient with yourself and just sort of, you know … slowly get back to your health."
That's a smart approach: Most OB-GYNs suggest waiting at least six weeks after birth before returning to your exercise regimen, and even then, it's smart to keep it light, especially if you experienced any complications or had a C-section.
7. “I’m excited for my daughter to see me work out.” —Mindy Kaling
Unlike her character on "The Mindy Project," the real Mindy loves staying active, whether it's by Spinning, lifting weights or running. But as she explained in her Shape cover story, she exercises for the mental benefits, not to change her body. "I know that working out is not the path for me to be skinny," she told the magazine. "Working out is a way for me to have mental strength, and now, with a kid, it's also time that I have just for myself and to focus on my body."
8. “My goal is to appreciate my body for what it has done.” —Sia Cooper
Trainer Sia Cooper accepted that her body would never be the same after two children, but she still wanted to be the strongest mom she could be. "I kept faith in my workouts and my eating plan and the fact that I would reach a stronger version of myself — different than before, but perhaps even better," she told Women's Health.
"My goal now was to appreciate my body for what it has done and to improve it. That meant embracing — and showing off — my scars, stretch marks, cellulite." And it also meant logging the cutest workouts with her kids: "If you're a busy mom, you can certainly multitask," she wrote on Instagram. "There's nothing wrong with making your health a priority."
9. “I have intense gratitude towards my body.” —Heidi Kristoffer
Yogis are usually pretty in tune with their bodies, but for Heidi Kristoffer, founder of CrossFlow X, pregnancy and childbirth took everything to the next level. "One of the greatest gifts of pregnancy and having children has been the intense gratitude I have towards my miraculous body," she wrote on Instagram. "This body that grew and expanded to grow my beautiful children."
Naturally, Kristoffer turned to her yoga teachings during labor. "I used mantra for childbirth," she says. She repeated the Gayatri mantra, which loosely translates to "lead me from the unreal into the real," and a secondary mantra: "not the body, not the mind, something divine." "Childbirth is rough, and I wanted to have backup," she says.
10. “Write on your mirror: ‘I had a baby. I’m a superhero.’” —Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland is known for her six-pack abs almost as much as her singing career, but she didn't stress about sculpting them into shape immediately after pregnancy. "It takes about a year to get the weight off. Don't beat yourself up if it takes even longer," Rowland told Parents. "Write on your mirror in lipstick: 'I had a baby. I'm a superhero.'"
The singer has also been open about her struggles with diastasis recti (aka ab separation) as a result of pregnancy. "I've been doing physical therapy, and it's been much better, but it's a constant journey to keep it strong," she told Working Mother.
11. “I have a caesarean scar, and I love that scar.” —Tia Mowry-Hardict
Tia Mowry-Hardict talked to Self about all the changes her body went through after pregnancy — and there were a few. "I breastfed my son, and my boobs aren't as perky as what they used to be," she said, adding that she didn't sweat it when people asked her if she was pregnant after she gave birth (it's totally normal to still have a belly, by the way). "This is what it looks like after you have a baby. This is who I am, and I love it." That includes her C-section scar: "It reminds me of the moment where I gave birth to a human being."
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever been pregnant? How did it change your body? How did it change the way you view your body? What do you think of these quotes? Did they help you appreciate your postpartum body in a new way or reinforce your admiration for your body's strength? Share your thoughts in the comments below!