Have you ever noticed the way other women talk about their postpartum recovery in whispers?
When it comes to talking about the baby, we happily and openly talk about every little detail, but when it comes to our bodies, we sheepishly admit to struggling with breastfeeding or experiencing postpartum incontinence (a loss of bladder control) or could barely move for days / weeks on end.
This reticence also extends far past the postpartum phase and we somehow never discuss how becoming a mom impacts our body image, even with our closest friends and family. And even after that life stage, we struggle to find the words to describe how we feel about our menopausal bodies and all the changes that go along with that.
At TENA, we believe that when women refrain from talking about their bodies and health – especially what happens to their bodies during pivotal life stages like postpartum or menopause – no one wins.
So, we talked with a handful of women and asked them to share their stories to help kick off a new series we’re launching on our social media channels called #MyEvolvingBody. We’ve compiled their stories below – in a special video and in their own words – and hope they resonate with you.
We truly believe that with each story shared, we normalize what was always normal and make things a little bit easier for those women who come after us.
Becoming a Mom at 40 Years Old
“Becoming a mother at 40 years old in 2020 has been pivotal in changing the way I view and appreciate my body. I’ve always been a runner and extremely fit, but in becoming a mother right after hitting my 40th birthday, I’m WAY less concerned about ‘bouncing back’ to my pre-baby body. I’m so proud that my body of ‘advanced maternal age’ was able to grow and deliver a healthy baby girl that I don’t care if I ever fit back into my ‘skinny’ pants. Also, in seeing all the sickness and division that has hit our country in 2020, I’m just so grateful to have a healthy body that allows me to work and take care of a little one regardless of what it looks like. I can truly say I love my 40-year-old post-baby body!” – Kelley Chaffee, Territory Manager, TENA
I Thought I’d Never Run Again
“From pre-teen to adult, one of my favorite activities is long-distance running with my dad. After giving birth to my son, I couldn’t wait to get back on the trails with my newborn nestled in my new jogging stroller. However, I experienced light bladder leakage shortly into my first run. Resigned to the fact that running was likely over for me, I quit trying.
Looking for advice, I found that incontinence after delivery was not a popular discussion topic. The pregnancy and postpartum books focus on the baby, but not about the significant biological changes a woman’s body undergoes during and after delivery. I was embarrassed about my incontinence – the thought alone of bringing a pack of liners to the cashier was mortifying. Afterall, I was too young to be purchasing, much less needing, incontinence products.
After reading about TENA and seeing their campaigns encouraging women to embrace their bodies, I decided to take the plunge and finally address my light bladder leakage. From the time I started using TENA® Very Light Liners, the veil of embarrassment lifted. The fear of incontinence was replaced by the security of knowing I was protected. I remember thinking, ‘I can run again!’ as a feeling of relief washed over me.” – Elise, Health & Medical Fulfillment Services Manager Brand Activation, TENA
I Knew I Had to Make a Change
“I have always been a plus size person. From reaching the height of 5’7 in sixth grade, to filling in the stereotypical roles of ‘clean-up’ batter in softball and goalie in field hockey, to learning throughout life how to dress to look thinner (as if).
My body has never held me back from doing anything I wanted until 2018. I took my son, who was 13 at the time, to Hawaii for a special vacation. One wish he had was to swim in a waterfall, so we ventured to Waimea Falls which boasted a brief 30-minute hike to the waterfall…but it was all uphill. During our hike, I realized that my body was beginning to fail me because I hadn’t been treating it very kindly over the past 3 years. I was at my heaviest weight and making that hike to the waterfall showed me that if I didn’t make some drastic changes, adventures like this with my son would come less and less – and that was unacceptable to me.
We ended up taking a shuttle cart up to the waterfall that day and I made a commitment to myself to change. I don’t aspire to be skinny, but I do want to be healthy and I want my body to hold up for at least another 50 years. I’ve lost 70lbs since this photo and have about 100lbs more to go. I do it for me… because I like life, I love adventure, my son means the world to me and my body deserves some respect.” – Jenny McGinley, Brand Activation Director, NA Marketing & Business Development NA, TENA
What I Love About My Body
When I was a young girl, I was teased for being super skinny. Then when I gave birth to my children, I was quite a bit overweight. Cue in all the media body shaming. What I love about my body now, is that it’s my personal labor of love. I take care so that I’m not only looking healthy, but that I’m feeling healthy too…mind, body and soul.” – Elaine Davis, Blogger, Square Pearls #TENApartner
Embracing My Body After Having Twins
"Being pregnant with twins was not easy. I remember everyone telling me it was great to have two babies at once because you only had to be pregnant once. Yeah!! Ask my body that!! While pregnant, I needed to change my eating habits in order to have my weight under control. After my twins were born, the shape of my body changed and breastfeeding twins was a challenge. Over the years, I struggled to lose weight. Now, the pandemic has surprisingly helped me to get back on track. I am eating healthier food and get to exercise on a regular basis. So far, I managed to lose 20 pounds…there’s still more to go, but it’s a journey not a race!” – Brenda Quiroz, Regional Brand Director North America Global Brand, Innovation and Sustainability, TENA
Welcoming a New Baby After Having Triplets
“My postpartum body journey with the triplets was one that evolved over time and really challenged me to LOVE my new body. I knew welcoming a new baby into our family five years after the triplets’ birth would be a new journey of loving myself, one that would require intention. And this moment in the photograph, just hours after I gave birth to Cambria, was one that allowed me to honor, celebrate, and love my body for growing life.
To #MyEvolvingBody, I see you. I see your strength. I see your bravery. I see your beauty. To grow and birth a tiny human is nothing short of remarkable, a miracle. Look at what you have done to allow me to carry all my babies and make me a Mom. Thank you body for growing a 9 lb 5oz miracle babe and having the opportunity to experience a VBAC. I’ve watched you grow and stretch and carry life. I’ve also watched you birth and welcome life. And all I can say is well done. As you continue to evolve, change, and grow continue to seek the beauty because you are glowing.” – Desiree Fortin, Blogger, The Perfect Mom #TENApartner
We thank all these amazing women for openly sharing their journeys in loving their ever-evolving bodies. We’d love to hear from you – tell us about a pivotal experience that shaped your perception of your body on Facebook or Instagram by using the hashtag #MyEvolvingBody and tagging @TENAusa. Let’s normalize this type of conversation and end the whispers.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is only for educational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or professional nursing services. You should consult with health care professionals if you have any questions about a specific medical condition, treatment or use of products.