Postpartum body perception in today’s world

. June 2, 2017.
Bikini-maternity

Being pregnant and sporting an “adorable baby bump” is all the rage these days. Celebrities proudly showcase their expanding bellies– oftentimes with little to no clothing– and even boast about gaining baby weight. Gone are the days of hiding from the camera during a pregnancy or starving oneself to keep the pregnancy weight at bay.

Unrealistic Expectations

However, while pregnancies may be portrayed a bit more realistically– although certainly more glamorous than either of my pregnancies– postpartum issues are still glossed over. Celebrities either reveal their flawless postpartum bodies weeks, or even days, after giving birth, or they hide from the camera for weeks or months until they’ve lost all of the weight.

The new mothers who dare to enter the spotlight while still carrying those extra pounds are often fat-shamed by the media.

Society demands that new mothers show no scars, no changes, from the 40 weeks we spent growing a human being. If we don’t drop the weight right away, it’s because we must be “doing something wrong;” we should have nursed, we need to eat healthier, we need to exercise more. The list goes on.

Baby Weight Dilemma

I know everyone says “Nursing helps lose the baby weight,” but for me, it was the opposite. I gained weight while nursing and couldn’t lose more than a few pounds until my babies weaned. Those postpartum and nursing hormones just told my body to hold onto every single calorie. I know other mothers who face the same side effect.

With my first, it took me almost two years to lose the baby weight, and that was with counting calories and daily exercise that amounted to one to three hours of my day. Now that I have a toddler and a baby, I’m lucky to get one hour of exercise a day, so I am inching up on two years postpartum with almost 20 pounds of baby weight still hanging around.
Do I feel ashamed? Yes. I know I am healthy and strong, but the embarrassment of still carrying that baby weight runs deep. I like to think I am a confident and body-positive woman, but it’s difficult to remain self-assured when society tells you differently.

A Way of Thinking

These are the mantras I repeat to myself when I get down: I created two beautiful, healthy human beings, and for that I should be thankful. I am strong, healthy, and capable; extra weight is not the end of the world. My body is still adjusting, especially my hormones (yes, even two years postpartum), so I need to give myself some grace and understanding. I would never judge another woman for her weight, so why am I so hard on myself?

The most important mantra: I want my daughter to grow up believing that she is beautiful and perfect just the way she is. I would never, ever want her to see herself the way I see myself. However, if I want that to be the situation, then I need to love and accept myself unconditionally so that she can do the same.