Why do we have to go back to the person we were before we created another life inside of us?
I mean we aren’t the same person INSIDE that we were before the baby, so why this crazy need to “get our bodies back.” Where did they go? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t a floating head after childbirth.
The reality is, we don’t really have much control over the matter, how our bodies settle after being an incubator is all up to Biology. No matter how much our hearts and our minds want us to fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans, depending on what hormonal shifts happen or body realignments take place during pregnancy and postpartum our bodies will adjust and settle where they want to.
Our bodies are always the ones in control, not our brains! "Nope, not even then Brenda!"
We don’t know or have control over what our bodies are going to do or look like during or after pregnancy nor do we OWE anyone otherwise. You have not failed yourself, your family or the world if you don’t shrink and or tighten up your body after having a child. Yes, there are those glorious unicorns who pop out a baby and then like 2 seconds later you’d never know they just delivered a human into the world. I am not judging those women, that is what their body did, and they are still valid MAMAS who deserve love and respect. What I am judging is Societies praise of that body over a different version.
You might not change one iota after having a child, or you might be unrecognizable to yourself, but NEITHER version is better or worse than the other.
We need to start showing, getting comfortable with and praising all types of postpartum bodies and stop glorifying this idea that we need to ‘fix’ the postpartum body we end up with. Like a caterpillar emerging from a chrysalis, we should celebrate and embrace the transformation.
We just made a FREAKING HUMAN BEING!, why is that not enough?
We are all totally comfortable with posting and commenting on "bump growth" pictures, celebrating Mama's belly getting bigger and bigger and then as soon as the baby pops out it’s like - "OK people, nothing to see here. Shut it down, enough confetti, it’s time to get to work and banish all evidence.” We get hit with a tidal wave of BS programs and gimmicks- new mommy exercise programs, meal plans, Instagram and Facebook posts telling you “There are no excuses!” “I lost the baby weight and so can you!”, and “You just have to make yourself a priority.”
Don’t get me wrong; there are loads of benefits to doing exercises postpartum to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (so you aren’t peeing your pants every time you sneeze), and staying hydrated and well nourished is an essential component in producing milk, healing and working through those postpartum blues. However, the focus is too often on looking thinner and tighter- putting effort into erasing the evidence that your body birthed a child- like it’s somehow offensive to have a body that’s worn out by the experience of creating life and taking care of said life.
After my first pregnancy, I was excited to be home with my daughter that first year because 1. I was going to be a new mom but also 2. secretly I was thrilled that I would have enough time to work out as much as I needed to, to “drop the baby weight and the pre-pregnancy weight.” The second I could get my pre-baby jeans back on I posted that shit on Facebook like I had just won the lottery making sure to point out how ‘quickly’ I was able to get them on too. Also, what’s up with this “quickly” bullshit? Who cares how long it takes you to get into your old pair of jeans, or even if you EVER get into your old jeans. Better yet who cares what kind of pants you wear?. You wanna wear yoga pants for the rest of your life? You do you!
Then, just as quickly as I got them on those pre-pregnancy jeans stopped fitting.
My body shifted and expanded in areas I didn’t foresee. I spent the next five years feeling bad about my new body, thinking it was my fault for not having enough willpower or working out enough, and I desperately tried everything to get back into those smaller clothes. I was on a constant cycle of diets and workout regimens staring at those smaller clothes in my closet feeling equal amounts of motivation and shame.
If there was any doubt that the universe likes to keep escalating the lesson until you get it, my second pregnancy was proof.
I lost total control of my body-not that I had it to begin with as I mentioned earlier- and I had to fully submit to what it was going to do not what I had planned for it to do. Towards the end of my second pregnancy, my hips had moved out so far that I was crawling up stairs because I couldn’t walk without severe pain. My body was entirely at the mercy of this child growing inside me, and I was just along for the super uncomfortable ride.
After giving birth, I did not “bounce back” as quickly. I remember feeling like a failure for not getting back to the gym at six weeks postpartum like I had with my first. I remember thinking that “At least when people look at my tired, fat self they will also see me pushing a stroller and understand I just had a baby” (I kept telling myself that when he was a year old). I remember my post 'FIRST pregnancy' clothes not fitting me and just falling apart in my closet.
I felt like the mountain to climb to get back to PRE baby body was so huge I would never reach the top, and I would be the ‘MOM who let herself go’ forever.
Back then I wish I had had more people telling me that my body might never go back to what it looked like before and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with that!
I wish during those 2 am feedings while I was scrolling through Facebook and Instagram I had been able to see and hear from new mothers how not only did they give birth to a new baby but they also gave birth to a new version of themselves that they were proud of, inside and OUT.
I wish more people had asked me how I was handling reconnecting with the world again, what my dreams and goals for the future were instead of focusing the conversation around plans for changing my body back.
Today I wish more people were honest and accepted what our bodies go through and how they come out the other side of pregnancy.
So in case, you need to hear some kind words I want you to know:
I love you and celebrate the courage, strength and sure will it took you to deliver and care for a human being.
I celebrate your body and see the beauty of what it has become and no matter what shape it morphs into next it will always be beautiful and worthy of love, respect, and self-care.
I don’t care about and will not celebrate you getting back into your skinny jeans because to your family, friends and the world you are so much more than that pair of jeans.