by Crystal Duffy
Everything is different with twins. I knew this was going to be the case when I began this twin mama journey. I had a singleton daughter, Abby, first and was able to bounce back to my normal pre-baby body. It also took longer than I expected it would. Breastfeeding helped because I was able to burn so many calories. The tricky part was after I had stopped breastfeeding my daughter, I needed to kick up my workout regimen to really shed the last stubborn five pounds off. I began running with my daughter in the stroller early in the park before it got too warm. I had successfully achieved my goal of “losing all the baby weight,” and I was proud.
With my second pregnancy, my husband and I were surprised with identical twin girls. I was overjoyed and simultaneously scared because I knew the pregnancy, birth, and life after would never be the same. I was right. My girls, Katie and Lauren, were born at 30 weeks four days, after a string of complications, and had to spend 38 days in the NICU. It was during that time that I was in survival mode. I was trying to balance my time between the NICU with my girls and at home with my two-year-old daughter. I was eating fast-food meals, frozen dinners, and anything I could snack on during the car ride between the hospital and home.
After my girls came home from the NICU—I realized how exhausted and overwhelmed I was. I was also unmotivated to properly nurture my body. I knew that I had to take a deep breath and give myself a break. Being pregnant and giving birth the second time around changed my body in ways that were strange and upsetting. My body had just housed two babies for months and then underwent a traumatic C-section. I went from having a flat stomach to a tummy pooch, and my breasts shifted in size as well. I knew it was going to take time to get my body back. There was no way I would ever fit back into that petite pencil skirt or slim silk blouse that I used to wear to work.
Instead here are some ways I learned to dispel the self-judging and love my strong, powerful—and, yes, slightly larger body.
5 Tips to Improve Your Self-Image After Twins
1. Ignore Social Media
So much of our time now is spent scrolling through people’s Instagram or Facebook posts. We see the highlighted reels of everyone’s life and it sends us the false message that we need to compete to have our bodies “back” by a certain time. It is not our job to be obsessively skinny and drop the weight instantly, it is our job to take care of ourselves and our babies. In order to do that we have got to quit comparing ourselves to the bikini pictures on the beach.
2. Find clothes that fit you right now
Ask relatives or friends if they would like to take some small clothes off your hands, and if not give them away to the charity of your choice, but do NOT keep them around. Clothes that are enormous or skintight are going to make you feel sloppy or fat. Though you may not be at your final resting weight, get some new clothes that fit, are pretty, and make you feel good about your body. I enjoy wearing flowy dresses with soft fabric versus skinny jeans. Figure out what types of clothes make you happy and treat yourself to some new items. You deserve it.
3. Spend time with your partner
After twins, it is so important to make time for one another. Your partner is not going to judge you if you haven’t lost your baby weight. Your partner loves and supports you and want you to be happy. By obsessing over your body and weight you are missing out on opportunities to connect and strengthen your marriage. Grab that flowy dress with a low-cut plunge neckline showcasing your new great cleavage and make your partner happy. By making your partner happy, you will be making yourself happy also.
4. Find your Mommy tribe
Every mama, whether you are a twin mama or singleton mama needs a tribe: a group of friends that are welcoming, trusting, and non-judgmental. Hang out with women that are easy going. The last thing you need is to be around uptight, high-strung, gym rats that count their calories. The most important thing is to find a group of ladies that are supportive, encouraging, and love you no matter what. Women that will help foster a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle in a positive way.
5. Make some time to treat your body right
Make some time for yourself to take care of your body. This can be going to a gym, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. Figure out best times that work for you and then try a yoga class or a Pilates class, or go for a brisk walk on a beautiful sunny day. At the end of a long day—draw a bath for yourself or do a face mask. It’s difficult to prioritize yourself over the long list of things to do. Twin mamas, in particular, have double the laundry, dishes, and meal prep but you simply must let those chores go sometimes and take care of yourself.
Having a positive self-image can affect so many aspects of your mom life. From being able to take charge in the chaotic situations with twinnies to being able to teach your children to love their own bodies. The whole family will benefit from the self-confidence that Mommy creates.
Crystal Duffy lives in Houston with her husband, three little girls, and a yappy little Yorkie. Her writing has appeared in Scary Mommy, Mamapeadia, Twins Magazine and she’s a contributing writer for Twiniversity. She’s the author of her memoir, Twin to Twin, which details her high-risk twin pregnancy. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.