Supermodel Mom Erin Henry On Accepting Her Post-Baby Belly

A Supermodel Mom Talks About Her Post-Baby Body on My Kind of Life

Four months after I had my baby I sent my friend Kate a text on the verge of tears. “I thought I had gotten over all my body image issues in my twenties. My modeling clients are asking if I’m back in shape yet, Spanx is sending me catalogs and my nipples are still black from hormone poisoning. What the hell?” Kate, a mother herself was empathetic but not overly so. “This is the next stage of personal development” she replied. “Trust me. Your son doesn’t care what you look like.”

I knew I was being too hard on myself yet I continued to frown every time I looked in a full length mirror. I gained 38 pounds during pregnancy and wanted to feel light, strong and attractive again. I suffered through hours in this terrible corset-like garment made in Colombia called a faja that was supposed to restore my stomach to it’s former state, I told my partner Alex I didn’t feel beautiful anymore and I cried inside through an advanced Pilates class involving a torture device called a megaformer as I watched my belly rolls squish together over and over in the mirrored walls alongside me. I felt defeated. Being a new mom, sleep deprived and nursing all day long was difficult enough. Was my body really supposed to look the same as it had a year before or was I being crazy?

I was being crazy. None of my actions were self-loving and I certainly wasn’t being the mother I wanted to be. I knew better. Armed with many of the tools I had collected over the years to get my spirit back on track when I was lost I decided to take a new approach. I would be kind to myself. I would eat whatever food my body asked for so I could make the nourishing milk my son needed, I would move my body in whatever way would make me feel good and I would say nice things to myself in the mirror.

My plan worked. Months later I was smiling and laughing more and embodying the qualities I always hoped I would have as a mother. I was also able to be more present for my son. To my surprise by making choices based on what would make me feel best, rather than burn calories, over time my body went back to its former healthy weight without the suffering. I learned to love my body on a deeper level based on gratitude for the beautiful baby it was able to give me rather than the way it looked. It didn’t happen overnight. The body image journey was lifelong.

Here are a few things I learned in this chapter called Motherhood.

Nobody cares how your body looks as much as you do- You would think I had learned this one already right? Having a baby was further proof to me I will always be my harshest critic and nobody else notices or really cares when I can’t button my jeans. If we could love ourselves as much as our friends and family do we would probably all be much nicer with our self-talk.

Change is good- Over a lifetime women’s bodies will go up and down, in and out. I was in India a few years ago and witnessed a sadhu look at a rather large man and say “ you have been having heavy thoughts. What has happened?” It turned out the man had gained several pounds over the year after his mother had died. He needed the extra weight for protection and comfort as he dealt with his grief. When he was ready to release it he did, and the next year I saw him again and he was much lighter. Sometimes when I gain or lose weight I think of this. It doesn’t have to be a negative or positive thing, but just a thing. When my weight shifts I ask what might be going on in my life on a deeper level? Is it something calling for my attention? Am I just happy or sad? Outer reflection is an expression of inner reality and paying attention to these things without judgment is healthy and helpful.

Hormones happen- Oh do they ever. When I first became pregnant I couldn’t stop itching and I was very weepy and sleepy. Then I developed skin tags and yes, my nipples turned a dark color. My hair grew everywhere like crazy and I was hungrier than a wild beast. Towards the end of my pregnancy I felt like Superwoman and after birth I had the baby blues for a while and my energy was low. Hormones can be embraced or despised. Sometimes some assistance from herbs or other natural remedies can be helpful but when it comes to hormones, happiness is a choice we make. It doesn’t mean we will always be happy, but it does mean we need to exercise a great deal of self care when it comes to managing them.

Sometimes Western medicine is the kindest thing- I tried to have a completely natural birth without drugs. I had an amazing midwife and doula and the whole holistic setup and after 32 hours of intense labor and not sleeping for two nights I decided to go to the hospital and have an epidural so I could get some rest and be able to have the strength to push out my baby. My labor had stalled and I was not doing well. Once I made the decision to give myself some much needed relief things were smooth sailing. I rested and when I woke my body was ready to push. My midwife let me reach down and pull my son out myself and the experience was still more than magical, epidural or not.

Yoga is the best medicine- After attempting to come back full force in the gym after not having done intense workouts for months I realized this was not working for me. I felt bad about myself and it felt bad on my body. I needed something gentle and feminine and fluid to make my back pain melt away and release my new mom anxiety. I took very gentle yoga classes for months and I felt so uplifted when I left. Now I only exercise in ways that make me feel good or really uplift my spirits. I’m in better shape than ever! Who knew?

Skinny jeans don’t fit the same- My mom wasn’t lying when she told me my body would change after babies. I can’t tell exactly what shifted where with my body but I can tell you it definitely isn’t the same. I’m okay with it now and it’s just a good excuse to buy some new bras and jeans. I refuse to buy Spanx on the grounds that they put new moms on their catalog lists without their permission!

I stay fit for different reasons now- The thing that really got me on the track to regain my strength and physical fitness was that I had zero energy and couldn’t keep up with my son or complete any other tasks like making dinner or writing because I was so tired. I want to be able to live life fully and if I’m not making optimal food choices to fuel myself, stretching, sleeping and moving my body I just am not able to enjoy all of the things I love to do. I have never had such a good reason to take care of myself!

Crows feet and under eye circles happened- That’s what concealer is for!

I would like to thank each and every mother out there for being you. Mothers are everywhere, whether they are pet mothers or child mothers or spirit mothers or earth mothers. Let’s all keep taking care of one another and being kind to ourselves. #TakeBackPostPartum #HealthyBellySelfie

Kind Contributor Erin Joy Henry

Erin Joy Henry was born in Portland, Oregon. She moved to New York City for eleven years to work as a fashion model and study holistic health until her urge for sunshine and trees drew her back to the West Coast. She relocated to Los Angeles where she now resides with her partner and toddler son. Her writing on the subjects of healthy living and body image have been published in places like The Huffington Post and Erin is a holistic nutrition counselor, certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Teachers College Columbia University and the National Association of Drugless Practitioners. She has studies everything from Spiritual Psychology to herbal medicine. With her health and well-being knowledge, she counsels a select group of people who are dedicated to living their best life!

You can find Erin on Instagram @erinjoyhenry and on

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