My Breast Lift Was Self-Care

It’s OK to invest in yourself sometimes, too.

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images, Shutterstock

After I had kids, I wanted a breast lift. For a while, I wrestled with whether or not the procedure was just “too selfish” of me to do — between the financial cost and the burden recovery time would put on my family. It seemed like a big ask. It was other moms who finally helped me see it another way. And my ultimate decision genuinely changed my life.

I became pregnant with my oldest daughter in 2016, and my body hasn’t felt like my own since. Between carrying her and then my subsequent pregnancy with her little sister, I’ve been left with a figure I don’t recognize. It’s not just the changes wrought by carrying and birthing children, either. I’m also my kids’ favorite thing to snuggle on — even on the days when I am feeling beyond touched out. And, like so many other parents, I tend to put myself last, and it’s at a point where I can physically feel the emotions and stress that I carry as a result.

So in 2023 when I came across a plastic surgery practice in my area that’s well known for “mommy makeovers,” I gave myself permission to seriously consider surgery as an option. I went into the research with the understanding that no procedure would turn me back into my pre-baby self — you can’t surgically remove all of the mental and emotional effects of motherhood — but I thought even if I could just reclaim one part of myself, I’d feel a little more like a human and less like some kind of vessel.

As I did my research, I was immediately struck by the pricing. Seeing the numbers and considering how this cost would fit into my family’s budget left me feeling anxious and guilty for even considering it. I thought of all of the groceries, clothes, school supplies, and extracurricular activities this money could buy. I thought of the epic family vacation I could take my kids on, the windows in our house that could be replaced, and the ever-rising cost of living.

I also considered what this would cost my family outside of our finances. I’d have to ask my mom to come help with the kids on surgery day. I’d need to take a full week off work to recover and my husband would have to do everything at home during those first seven days while I rested in bed. He’d also have to do most of the physical work for six weeks until I reached full recovery — this meant anything that involved reaching, pushing or pulling, or lifting anything weighing more than a gallon of milk. Not to mention, for at least six weeks, my daughters wouldn’t be able to snuggle on me in the same way they’ve grown used to.

I was part of a Facebook group filled with women researching and sharing their plastic surgery journeys. There are so many moms in the group, and on any given day there would be at least one who expressed the same feelings of mom guilt that I was experiencing — the finances, the worries about not being able to lift their little ones during recovery, and the concerns of what altering their bodies would ultimately say to their children about their own insecurities. Each time a post like this popped up, comments would quickly add up from fellow moms offering words of encouragement and reminders of all we do for our kids. With their help, I eventually decided that it’s OK to invest in myself sometimes, too. I don’t always have to come last in my own life.

Those moms helped me decide that it was ok to do this.

In January, I underwent breast lift surgery. I can say with confidence that I gained more peace from this single procedure than I have from years of practicing other relaxing or rejuvenating activities in an attempt to reclaim a bit of who I am outside of marriage and motherhood.

Since having the surgery, my body still shows many signs of past pregnancies, but this small change has helped me regain so much confidence that I worried I would never return. It seems silly that breast surgery could have such an impact, but it has.

Also, that week of recovery I was so worried about? I spent it in bed binge-watching Gilmore Girls guilt-free because doing anything strenuous would have done more harm than good. When my kids weren’t at school, I was amazed to see that they actually found joy in helping to take care of me. And, even though he was weary, my husband never complained about carrying the team while I stayed in bed. How often does a mom get the opportunity to truly rest and have her family show up for her like this?

My breast lift was definitely the biggest single act of self-care I’ve ever given myself, and I am so happy that I pushed through my own mom-guilt to finally move forward with it. My only regret is taking so long to believe that I am worthy of such an investment.

Ashley Ziegler is a freelance writer living just outside of Raleigh, NC, with her two young daughters and husband. She’s written across a range of topics throughout her career but especially loves covering all things pregnancy, parenting, lifestyle, advocacy, and maternal health.