We sure do love those Bellas and their honesty about all things pregnancy and postpartum. But why is Nikki Bella “super scared” (her own words on Instagram this week) to show off her amazing, remarkable, literally life-giving body post-birth — when she was so totally (rightfully!) chill about showing off her naked pregnant body on social media?
That’s a rhetorical question. Or rather, it’s a question we know the answer to: She’s scared because of society’s super unrealistic standards about women’s bodies in general and postpartum bodies in particular. But unfortunately, by using language about “getting your body back” and “using pregnancy as an excuse” to “indulge in pizza,” Bella is buying into the concept that birth parents need to erase all physical evidence of growing a human in their bodies — and eating enough to sustain that human, too.
And it seems like Nikki’s sister and fellow postpartum mama, Brie Bella, is of the same mindset as Nikki. Brie wrote this weekend that she is nearing her six-week postpartum checkup with her OB/GYN: “I have one more week until hopefully I am cleared to work out… [I’ve been] dying to work out. It’s been killing me.”
Eesh. Has it, though? Has “dying to work out” really been “killing” anyone, or are we all just so uncomfortable under unrealistic and unhealthy societal pressures about what our bodies are supposed to look like and when?
Plus, that six-week checkup should not be taken as a cue to jump into working out. Physical therapist Sara Reardon previously told SheKnows that “having the ‘all clear’ at your six-week checkup…does not mean that your tissues are done healing or that they are ready for high impact. The first three months postpartum are a time for rest, breath work, walking, attention to body mechanics and posture, and low-impact exercises rebuilding your connection to your core.”
Hear that, Bellas? Rest! Breath work! Walking!
We recently delved into this topic — that is, the necessary reality check so many postpartum folks need regarding the harmful myth of “getting your body back” when singer Ciara posted that she’s planning to lose another 48 postpartum pounds. And while both Bella’s and Ciara’s bodies and decisions are their own, please don’t let them make you feel like you need to make the same decision — or hold yourself to the same weight-loss standards (or any weight-loss standards, for that matter) postpartum.
Like Reardon said: Rest, breath work, walking… and let the rest fall into place. Because stressed new birth parents are just trying to keep a baby alive after pushing it out of their body; they are superhumans, and should be treated as such regardless of how their bodies look six weeks — or six years — after giving birth. We hope the Bellas are able to give themselves the same grace as they manage this huge transition.
These breastfeeding protest pics show that postpartum bodies are anything but shameful.