Why Do So Many Women Beat Themselves Up About Their Baby Weight?

I’ve been stuck at 140 pounds, give or take a few, for the past 5 years. I know for a lot of women, 140 sounds small and I guess, in reality, it is. But I’m short and every chart a doctor has ever shown me says that I should be between 97 (hahahahaha!) and 125 pounds.


I might have been 125 pounds in high school. Maybe. But now? As a mother of two and a sneeze away from 30? My body really seems to like the 140s. I got a gym membership earlier this year so I could finally get fit and push my body into seeing some tangible change. I’m getting stronger but the scale is not budging.

But why does this matter? What difference does it make how much I weigh and whether or not I’ve lost all the pregnancy weight? I’m a smart, driven, accomplished woman and I’m sweating over the fact that my thighs rub together under my sundresses? (Real talk: it is very uncomfortable.) It’s insane.

I realized, however, when I read this piece from MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry that we are conditioned to take notice when our bodies change, particularly when its because of the babies:

Celebrity culture tells us that during pregnancy, women are supposed to gain a barely noticeable amount of weight. We are expected to shed the extra pounds within weeks, slip into our pre-pregnancy clothes and claim that breastfeeding made the weight fall off effortlessly. Add to this the self-inflicted pressure: Gaining weight bothers me because it’s an outward manifestation of my imperfection. Going up a dress size is a crude reminder that balancing work, travel, parenting and marriage is hard. And it’s embarrassing when the “hard” shows.

Speak on it, Melissa! This season of my life is difficult, but mainly so because I am hard on myself. I do tend to grab a cookie instead of slicing up some strawberries. I do tend to sleep in a half-hour longer versus getting up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym. I do choose to cuddle on the couch with my husband instead of taking a walk. Achieving or maintaining the “perfect” figure is an additional stress that I do not want.

So what’s the point of this post? Hm, good question. I suppose the real goal is to get better as we get older. Healthier. Stronger. Instead of looking at our baby weight as something we need to hide or get rid of as quickly as possible, what if we just focused on getting better with time? What if we tossed out the scale and replaced it with morning affirmations? What if we just allowed ourselves to be who we are, whether we are a size 4 or a 14?


  1. I’m guessing some people handle this better than others. As a young mom I was oblivious about my weight – never gained the prescribed amount during pregnancies but somehow lost most of it after each child – guess I was too busy living. However I think ( and there in lies the problem) we look at what we used to be instead of seeing where we are and what we’ve become. It’s important to be healthy so if you’re healthy that’s good.

    • @Nylse – You said a mouthful there! Plus I think motherhood changes you so drastically, and your weight/outward appearance is the first sign of it.

  2. I gained maybe 75 lbs during my pregnancy and I cannot manage to lose more than 20 lbs of it at a time. I believed all the rumors that you could eat all you want because you were eating for two…now I have a ton of weight i can’t get rid of. And my family is NOT kind about it anymore…the pressure is on for me to lose it, but shy of a miracle pill, looks like this weight is here to stay.

    • it will just take time and on your timeframe no one else’s. so if you want to lose it just take baby steps until you can make bigger moves.
      ignore your family. it took at least 9 months to gain it will take that long or longer to lose.