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Motherhood and Body Image

What Having 4 Kids Did to My Mother's Body and Her Confidence

The following post was written by Joanna Venditti of Nesting Story, who shares her adventures in raising her four kids. As Mother's Day approaches, Joanna shares her thoughts on motherhood and body image.

My mother had four kids and like me, her body went through a war.

I recently sat down with her and asked my mother how she felt when she was pregnant and how the changes in her body impacted her confidence. What she told me opened my eyes to how backwards society's view on the postpartum body has become.

Before having kids and going through four pregnancies, my mother felt better than ever with her body and who she was.


Soon after my mother and father were married, she became pregnant with my oldest brother. She felt her prettiest when pregnant. She was glowing, full of pride and it was the happiest time in her life.

Back then, (between 1976-1984), women weren't expected to "bounce back" like we are today. As a public health nurse, she knew it would take a good year to recover from having a baby. Women were taught how to properly care for themselves and their postpartum body. She was even given specific exercises by the nurses in the hospital, to help the healing process, without adding too much pressure.

My mother holding me (pregnant with my younger sister)

Without the constant images that today's society is constantly bombarded with on the Internet, women didn't obsess about their postpartum figure. My mother's role models were smart, beautiful and strong women such as Jessica Lang and Meryl Streep.

Mothers didn't judge each other. Yes, they were conscious about losing the baby weight at a healthy pace, but the focus was on caring for their babies. Which is such a simple, yet beautiful concept.

I remember my mother reading my sister and me books each evening. I loved to cuddle up to her soft body. When she would dress up to go out with my father, I always thought she was the most beautiful mommy.

As my mother's body changed she never hid behind baggy clothes. Sure, she fell victim to some fashion trends. But she never started dressing to hide her body.

My mother made sure she never lost herself in the shuffle. After leaving nursing to be home with her children, she pursued her passion in opera singing. I remember her going out a few evenings a week to sing and perform on stage. She would get her moment to shine and then be ready to go back and give to her family again the next day.

My mother rocking a bikini AFTER having four kids.

This all makes me pause and wonder . . . if all of us mothers would just stop competing against each other in the great body after baby race and genuinely start caring about each other's health, happiness and wellbeing, maybe reaching a personal goal would come much more naturally.

I can't thank my mother enough for being such a positive role model for me, now that I have four children. My view of the postpartum body is that of awe and pride. I don't feel ashamed of my curves and I make sure I am kind to my body.

Thank you, mom!

Myself, my mother and sister today.

Image Source: Joanna Venditti
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