'The changes will never allow me to forget how powerful this body really is'

My whole life I struggled with body image. No matter what my shape or size, I always felt like I could never quite get “there”. ”There” being the perfect physique. I never felt lean enough, strong enough, curvy enough, attractive enough. Even as a competitive bodybuilder and fitness model, I never felt like this body was ever good enough.

When I found out I was expecting, I also expected to be faced with some unflattering bodily changes. First came the continuous nausea, then when I could finally come up for air toward the end of my first trimester, I noticed an ever-so-slight belly bump. To my surprise, I was overjoyed that I was finally showing on the outside what I was experiencing all this time on this inside. This bump represented all the hard work my body was doing the last 3 months. Never would I have guessed I would be so eager to hang up my six pack.

Along with my new belly came some other changes, ones that may be deemed unflattering by others’ standards (I’ll spare you the TMI). However, to me, they were signs of the most extraordinary privilege in the world: the privilege to create life. If similar changes had occurred to my body prior to pregnancy, I would have considered myself deformed. But these changes represented a divine purpose, a purpose greater than just looking “hot”.

As the weeks and months progressed, I found myself excited to step onto the scale, excited to take the progress selfies. The more I grew and the more curve balls my body threw my way, the more proud I became of the incredible job I was blessed to be doing. It was the first time in my life I truly loved the skin I was in, flaws and all. It was the first time I truly wanted to be seen- and not because I was compensating for anything like in the past, but because I loved this body and the power it possessed.

Now, 7 weeks postpartum, I am left with the remains of what was once my baby’s home for nine months. You can imagine what kind of shape I’m in today. I think back to all the women who told me “your body will never be the same after a baby”. Well you know what? I hope they’re right, because these changes will never again allow me to forget how powerful this body really is.

Samantha is an identity coach and bestselling author, currently residing in Denver, CO. She recently gave birth to a son - her first - Landon Hail, who has changed how she looks at the world forever. Social media links: Instagram Facebook