real life

What your body really looks like after having four kids.

An honest journey from a mum who’s been there.

After giving birth to four kids in five years, Joanna Venditti was attending a wedding recently when she started to think about all the changes and transformations her body had gone through.

Courtesy Joanna Venditti"Isn’t it incredible what the human body can do?" Joanna Venditti writes in a blog post about her journey of body acceptance after having four kids (including a set of twins).

“I looked around the room and I realised that I’m the mum of four and there are a lot of beautiful young women there and I’m kind of in this different category now,” Venditti, who lives near Toronto, Ontario, told TODAY Parents.

“I was really surprised with myself about how OK I was with that. That’s my new phase in life and that’s great and I’m really proud of myself.”

Courtesy Joanna VendittiThis photo shows Joanna Venditti 37 weeks into her pregnancy with twins. The girls are now 7 months old.

The moment inspired Venditti, 32, to write a column for her blog that’s generating buzz for her honest portrayal of her post-pregnancy figure and how she’s come to terms with it.

Her focus now: Celebrating what her body has done, rather than thinking it was somehow “ruined,” and losing the baby weight, but taking her time.

“My goal is to be fit, be healthy, and feel good in what I wear. I’m not looking to be rail thin,” she said.

Venditti’s first two pregnancies were routine, with fast and easy deliveries that required zero recovery time. At 5 feet and 2 inches tall, Venditti normally weighed about 57 kilos, gaining 22 with the first two babies and losing the weight within months.

Courtesy Joanna VendittiVenditti enjoys the beach before her pregnancies.

Then, she found out she was pregnant with twin girls, a “total surprise” that made her and her husband so giddy that they laughed for three days. But Venditti was soon nervous about how large her belly would grow and she was overwhelmed by the countless doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds and blood tests that came with multiples.

It was a rough pregnancy, Venditti recalled. So she came up with a mantra whenever things got frustrating: “You are a vessel, you are a vessel,” she would repeat to herself out loud. It helped her disassociate her mind from her body, putting the focus on the babies, she said.

Courtesy Joanna VendittiVenditti welcomes her twin girls into the world. She has two other children, ages 5 and 4.

At her heaviest, Venditti weighed 86 kilos. When it came time to give birth, she had to deliver via a cesarean section that came with more recovery time, but there were other problems to come: She struggled with pain in her upper torso from her organs moving and stretching to accommodate the twins. It became so bad that she couldn’t lie down and had to sleep in a sitting position for a week.

“I told my husband, I don’t feel like myself,” Venditti said. “This adorable cute belly that would distract everyone was gone and you’re left with the remains. I did feel sad, I almost mourned.”

Her body had been through a war, she wrote, so she made the decision to be kind to it.

Courtesy Joanna VendittiVenditti tries to work out each morning.

She tries to work out each morning to tone her muscles and stay in shape. She eats healthy foods, but indulges on occasion and tries not to feel guilty about it.

Any time she has a moment of insecurity, she asks herself: "How many other people in this room grew two people inside their body at once?"

Joanna VendittiInstead of thinking of her body as "ruined" after giving birth to four beautiful children, Venditti has learned to love and respect her body.

Seven months after the twins’ birth, Venditti now weighs about 63 kilos and hopes to return her pre-baby weight.

Her message to other women: “Take your time, love your body… celebrate what your body has done.”

Joanna Venditti: "I am so much more confident with my body than I ever have been before," Joanna Venditti writes.

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Want more? Try:

"Why my post-pregnancy belly is something I'm not ashamed of."

"Stop saying babies ruin our bodies. Just stop."