It’s 2019, and yet, society still places so much pressure on new moms to immediately “bounce back” after their pregnancies. This toxic idea impacts the mental and emotional health of millions, and not even prominent celebrities are immune. In a recent Instagram post, Carrie Underwood said she’s struggling with fitness and body acceptance after the birth of her second son, Jacob Bryan.
“I’m going to be honest, ‘bouncing back’ after having Jacob has been much more difficult than after I had Isaiah and I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately,” she wrote on Tuesday. “I go into the gym and I can’t run as fast or as far. I can’t lift as much weight or do as many reps as I could a year ago. I just want to feel like myself again…for my body to feel the way that I know I can.”
While her workout routines aren’t yet what they used to be, Underwood recognized that her body has also accomplished some truly incredible things during her motherhood journey.
“As I was working out today, I realized that for the past 11(ish) months, my body has not belonged to me,” she continued. “It was a perfect home for Jacob. And even now it belongs to him every time he drinks his milk. As I prepare for red carpets and for life on tour, right now I make a promise to myself to start appreciating what my body CAN do and stop focusing on what it can’t.”
“The Champion” singer, who recently celebrated her 36th birthday, concluded that she’s going to “stop analyzing every angle and every curve and every pound and every meal” and will remind herself of everything her body “has done and will continue to do.”
Too often, new moms focus so much of their energies on postpartum fitness tips and postpartum workout routines because they feel there’s something inherently wrong with their changed bodies. Underwood’s post is a refreshing reminder that this harmful belief isn’t true. People who give birth to children have undergone incredible physical changes to house and nurture human beings — something that is, in our opinion, much more admirable than any number of push-ups or bench-presses could ever be.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with postpartum exercise; it’s great. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that new mothers engage in weekly moderate exercise after giving birth to reduce stress, minimize the risk of postpartum depression, and improve their quality of sleep. (Notice that ACOG does not recommend exercise simply so new moms can look toned in a bikini. Work out because it makes you feel good, not because you aspire to achieve an unrealistic body expectation.)
Underwood’s mission to appreciate and be kind to her body won’t always be easy — accepting our limits rarely is. But if there’s one thing the incredible working mom has shown us in the past, it’s that she can persevere through the toughest times and always come out feeling stronger.