Mallory Klocke (28) and Arthur (7 weeks)
Oak Park, IL
Mallory shares -
“I’ve experienced all of pregnancy loss, abortion, and infant loss as a midwife but not personally. Most of my current work is providing abortion care. I have cared for people who are devastated by miscarriage but also for people who are relieved by miscarriage. I have attended the birth of a baby who stopped living before being born as well as the birth of a baby who stopped living shortly after being born.
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
Pregnancy and postpartum have brought physical changes--some desired, others not so much. I thought of pregnancy as the most fascinating experiment I could do with my body and was thrilled to watch my areolas darken and expand.
Parenthood has presented some challenges to maintaining positive body image for myself. I also have had more opportunities to test just how body positive I am. I tried to remind myself that weight is not a perfect indicator of health nor a perfect predictor of birth outcomes, but weight gain is one of the main measurements of prenatal care.
Pregnancy is a time where people feel more compelled to give unsolicited comments on your physical appearance. Pregnant people don’t all look a certain way, and I found it frustrating to have people regularly comparing me to their ideas of how I should look. After regularly hearing that I “hardly looked pregnant,” I was quite satisfied to learn that I had grown a 9lb 5 oz baby. Since giving birth people have told me, “You look great! You don’t even look like you had a baby!” People offer this as a compliment, but I often feel a sense of loss about all the work my body has done. The comments reflect a culture that values certain bodies and the ability to “bounce back” after baby. I’m working to accept my new body. I’m trying to remind myself that my goal should not be based in appearances; instead I should seek nutrition that offers the energy to make food for my baby and physical activity that creates a positive mood for me.
What was your postpartum experience?
I am still very new to the fourth trimester, and my adjustment is ongoing. As someone who has experienced depression and anxiety in the past, I had concerns that postpartum depression and anxiety would be an issue for me. I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that I feel more emotionally stable postpartum than I did during pregnancy. I definitely experienced postpartum blues during the first few weeks but am feeling pretty well-adjusted by now. Those moments would be intensely filled with tears, anger, fear, anxiety, sadness—but they resolved about as quickly as they came. I told my partner that the moments reminded me of labor, where I felt as if I were in another realm of existence. I know that I’m not guaranteed a continuation of emotional well-being, but I feel hopeful about the prospects. I’m very fortunate to have had such a positive experience with labor, birth, and the beginning of parenthood. I believe this is in large part due to the phenomenal support I’ve received from my partner, doula, family, friends, midwives, lactation consultants, and other healthcare professionals. Even the pediatrician’s office screened for concerns with depression and anxiety; I appreciated the check-in and was pleased to see how I felt I was doing.
I’ve been reflecting on how well postpartum has gone compared to pregnancy and why that might be. I had all of this support during pregnancy as well, but I think there was some underlying anxiety about how the labor and birth would go. Another aspect is gender. As a person who is unsure about their gender identity, pregnancy felt pretty toxic at times. People always ask the gender of the baby—when what they’re referring to is sex. Discussions about pregnancy and birth are heavily gendered. I wasn’t always able to wear clothing that fit with how I felt about myself. So far parenthood has presented much less conflict for me on this.
What is your truth?
Pregnancy, birth, parenthood—they’re all incredibly vulnerable experiences. Do yourself the favor of giving into them and letting go of the control you think you have.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I have followed the 4TBP movement for years now and have long hoped to participate. I was really bummed when I was unable to join for a previous session on abortion when it took place. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I excitedly signed up for this session—not knowing what my postpartum journey would be but knowing that this could be a healing experience and space. I’m thrilled to be here today as a parent who—much like the 4TBP—hopes to intentionally create a “body liberating, queer affirming, anti-racist, and inclusive” home and world.