Moms: Whether you’re proud of your newly transformed “mom bod” or are trying to “get your body back,” you should not be judged for your choices. The widespread body-shaming of moms — in our culture, on our streets, and most of all on the internet — has got to stop. Now.
Apparently, when we become pregnant in this society, our bodies are no longer our own. They become open to commentary, touching, judgment, and even bump-shaming from others. When I was pregnant, I received offensive comments and questions ranging from “Oh my god! You’re HUUUUGE!” to, I kid you not, an inquiry about my nipple color.
And for mothers, this constant judgment and inquisition certainly doesn’t change after we give birth. Then comes the pressure to “bounce back” to our pre-baby physique — quickly and effortlessly, all while managing to keep a tiny human alive and well-nurtured. Which is a 24/7 job. Add going back to work, and moms are working the equivalent of three jobs. Oh, did you also want to have a social life? Maybe eat three meals a day? Have time for your partner? In a new mom’s life, there’s hardly space for a shower — let alone a gym routine. So why does the postpartum body obsession continue?
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Working hard on that mom bod! • Ok but seriously, I absolutely detest the phrase “bounce back” or “get your body back” in regards to the postpartum body. You aren’t going back. Your life isn’t the same. Your body isn’t the same. And that’s absolutely ok. It’s more than ok. • Your body just carried a human and is nurturing said human. My body shifted quickly after birth but I’m not “back”. I’m embracing, with some mental struggle, these changes. I’m curvier and fuller than before and I don’t have the time to workout unless Baby P is in tow, and I’m breastfeeding (see every other post) and need at least 500 more calories per day. No crash diets or workout binges to get back into model shape. And you shouldn’t either!! Give yourself time and love after birth. You’re doing a great freaking job! • • • • #mombod #momlife #healthymom #modelmom #mama #motherhood #babylove #fitmama #breastfeeding #momsofinstagram #ig_motherhood
Honestly, I didn’t have difficulty losing weight after giving birth. I am still breastfeeding (15 months and counting) and my kid never stops moving — so neither do I. But the weight loss brought its own unsolicited comments. I have total strangers approach me while I’m out with my baby and ask how I lost the weight. They seem to hope I have some miracle method to offer, when in reality I simply worked out regularly during pregnancy (I taught prenatal fitness classes until 37 weeks pregnant) and ate somewhat healthy (with consideration to what nutrients were needed for growing a baby). While pregnant, I had bagels for the first time in five years. Also, I eat dessert every day, so there’s that.
But when my baby was born, I didn’t run back to the gym like I thought I would. First of all, I don’t have the time — and I have zero interest in spending what few moments I do get to myself working out. Don’t get me wrong: I love working out. I love the way it makes me feel, more than the way it makes me look. I found sanity in my yoga practice, and I miss it dearly. But, as a new mom, with so many big and small things that need tending to each and every day, my free time after taking care of my baby goes to sleep, not sweating.
I have also worked in the fashion industry as a model for over two decades. It’s a brutal industry. I tried to hide my pregnancy for as long as possible for fear of losing work. Once I announced it to my agent, she quickly pointed out my tiny baby bump and how “obvious” it was, along with my growing breasts. I seriously looked like I had eaten a big meal — but from that day on, I lost jobs.
And once I had the baby, I had to prove myself all over again. I had go into the agency to let them “have a look” and see if my body passed muster. I went in, full of anxiety, stripped down to my underwear, and had pictures taken so they could assess my size and therefore my ability to work. I was already down to my pre-baby measurements, but I was still told to “sit tight” until I was done breastfeeding because a) my breasts were too large and b) the inconvenience of needing to pump while on set was too much consideration to ask from clients.
The whole process was soul-crushing. On one hand, I had strangers in awe of my physique; on the other hand, my agents saw me as damaged goods.
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Breastfeeding is basically my life right now. And I anticipate it will be for quite some time. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes my toes curl from a less than ideal latch. 💥 Even though I’m a lactation counselor I still needed help in the beginning. In the hospital I received less than ideal lactation help but I’m lucky to know so many wonderful professionals (thanks @born.knowing and my doula partner @theconnectedbirth). 🤱🏽 I always recommend having the number to a lactation professional or two BEFORE you give birth so you have someone to call when things arise. You have so many other things to think about that searching for someone while in the delicate new mom mode is not the time for research. 🌈 . . A special thanks to @sugarbums_ in Boise for the @shopcosabella bra and @barefootdreams robe. Photo, hand delivery of these lovely goodies and so much love courtesy of @thisishowyouvegan . . #momlife #baby #mama #newborn #motherhood #babylove #fitmama #breastfeeding #lactation #lactationsupport #momsofinstagram #ig_motherhood #reallife #newmom #newbaby #doula #postpartumdoula #doulatip
What I’ve learned is this: This whole process is amazing and hard and different for every single person. My pre- and post-natal experiences are unique to me — and yours is your own experience. Instead of trying to fit back into a body that doesn’t fit your new life, try and see your real body for the miracle that it is. You may not love your soft curves or stretch marks right away — or ever. And that’s ok. It’s ok to be a bit uncomfortable if your thighs touch when they didn’t before (although mine have touched since I was a kid and how did “thigh gap” become a desired trait?!). It’s ok if rocking a crop top when your belly is round isn’t your jam. What is pretty wonderful, though, is recognizing the amazing feat that your body has accomplished in growing, birthing and nurturing another human being.
In an interview with Self, Kerry Washington said that her postpartum body is “the site of a miracle now.” I like that. It honors the fact that some wild, magical and crazy shit has happened to birth mothers’ bodies — and that is awesome. And intense.
So rather than feeling pressure to “bounce back” to a body — and to a life — that no longer matches where you are, let’s celebrate all that comes with the miracle of birth. Shut the guilt and shaming down, and lift up the celebration of motherhood.