Why Do I Look Older After Having A Baby?
We all encounter that moment that confirms to us that we’re getting older. For me, it was yesterday at Costco when the woman at the checkout register didn’t ask for my drivers license for an alcohol purchase. I found myself asking her if she needed to see it, anticipating the ask, but she said ‘no’ and for the first time since I was twenty-one years old my drivers license was not needed.
Instead of feeling down about my looks the better thing would have been to enjoy that moment, not having to take the time to pull my drivers license out as usual. But no, I was just stunned and a little worried, thinking “do I look old, or wrinkly? What about my face makes me look ‘mature’ now?”
No More Baby Face
It was a moment of incredulity. I’d always had a baby face according to waiters or whomever my husband and I have had to answer to in order to enjoy a cocktail out, go wine tasting, or to purchase alcohol. For years without fail, my husband and I have been asked for our drivers licenses no matter what. He was even asked at Cooper’s Hawk while I was pregnant! In some states where there are young married teen couples it makes sense to ask for a driver’s license, but it’s been annoying to us for a while. And now, all of a sudden I encounter my first time not being asked.
It was like an uncomfortable wake up call when the Costco employee said,
“you’re alright. Although there was one time I was wrong, with a lady who was thirty but had a baby face. I can usually tell if you’re of age.”
Either way it was an ouch to hear. I used to be that lady with the baby face. Hell, in six months I’m going to be thirty years old. The only explanation for this? I have a baby now and after having a baby I think our faces change.
Why Does Our Appearance Get Affected After Childbirth?
I read about this disease that’s rare called Cutis Laxa. It’s genetically inherited in most cases and can be “autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, or sex-linked (located on X chromosome).” That’s a lot of jargon I’m not totally clear on, but in some cases the disease get’s triggered by pregnancy. What cutis laxa does is damages the connective tissue of our skin (collagens, elastic fibers etc.) making skin lose elasticity and become loose. It’s sort of manageable with cosmetic surgery and treatments like collegen injections. But suffice it to say I don’t and most women don’t suffer from cutis laxa easily, but what it does show is how genes and what our bodies go through in creating and giving life have a lot to do with why we seem to age faster after having kids.
I think the most logical scientific opinion on why we seem to lose our looks after having kids comes from biologist Thomas Kirkwood who suggested a hypothesis consistent with an inverse relationship between childbirth and longevity, called the disposable soma theory. It stated that when the body devotes some of its limited amount energy reserves for reproduction, it scales back on cellular repair and maintenance functions, leading to somatic (body cell) disintegration and aging. In other words, giving birth is expensive and we moms pay the cost with losing our youthful baby face.
Just look at how I looked back on Thanksgiving 2014 vs. Thanksgiving this year 2018.
What Can We Do To Stay Looking Fresh Faced
The answer to what we can do to stay looking fresh faced is one that’s often repeated on morning talk shows and by estheticians who give us facials. Have a skin care regimen (translation: buy a cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer, and skin serum; use them every morning and evening), eat right, exercise, and drink lots of water, limit alcohol consumption and junky food. Easier said than done. The thing about maintaining a fresh and youthful face is that it requires willpower and consistency, both of which I and most moms struggle with.
The easiest way but also the easiest to fail at to address our aging faces is the skin care regimen. On my lazy days I wash my face and put vaseline on my face and eye area before bed. This is something I only started doing last fall when I was pregnant. On my vigilent days I wash my face and use a combination of Aveda, Mark Lees, and PCA products to cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, and prevent aging. This is something I adopted this fall:
- Cleanser: PCA Facial Wash
- Exfoliant: Aveda Botanical Kinetics™ Exfoliant
- Acne: PCA Acne Serum
- Anti-aging: PCA A&C Synergy Serum
We can’t manipulate time, genes, or our cells, but one thing that I think that makes a real difference in how we look that costs nothing is being happy and thankful for what we do look like. I shouldn’t be feeling down just because someone didn’t need to see my driver’s license, so what if I do look older. I earned those under eye lines and shadows taking care of my daughter, my household, and my business. Father Time and Mother Nature are at work, and how we ook was never meant to stay the same.
What I need to remember and probably most of us moms need to remind ourselves of is that our kids love us no matter how old we look. We’re mom. Our face remains the same to them I’ve heard and you know what I think it’s true. When I look at my mom or my mother-in-law they’re getting a little plumper, their hair whiter, their faces more lived in, but I just see the same faces I’ve come to recognize. I don’t see all the details first some how. There’s something to be said for how our loved ones see us. Maybe that’s God’s way of reminding us whose opinion of us really matters: our family’s.
May that idea comfort you and may my moment of insecurity at Costco be a reminder that you’re not alone in feeling sad that you’re not as beautiful as you once were. There’s a certain kind of beauty that comes with age though, so let’s make a pact to embrace that new beauty we’re getting. We don’t need to be the hot we were at twenty-five, let’s embrace and enjoy what hot at thirty, fifty, and eighty years old will look like. Let’s als be happy that we get to go through time and experience all that we’re going to experience as moms with our families. The price may be our beauty, but the reward is worth so much more than vanity.