I gained well over 60 pounds during my pregnancy to a near 10 pound baby, mind you. Not to mention the 20 I had gained before I actually even got pregnant. After I gave birth to my son, even before I gave birth to my son, I was truly obsessed with losing the weight I gained and doing so quickly. My Pinterest boards (do people still use Pinterest?) were psychotic, back of the closet shrines of the body image I wanted to portray. Body images I don’t think my body could ever actually obtain. A huge part of my wanting to ‘snap back’ was, in all honesty, to try and prove something to my ex. I was adamant on the idea that if I got really fit, that he would regret everything he had ever done to me. We can go ahead and chalk that up to 23 year old, broken heart logic. I was actually pregnant around the same time Kim Kardashian was when she had Saint, and it drove me nuts as I watched her rapidly drop the weight. I even bought a damn waist trainer; that is how desperate I was to look a certain way. The only good that thing did was support my back.
This obsession that I think most of society, not even necessarily postpartum women specifically, has with “getting your body back after pregnancy” is out of control. My organs were slowly crushed for over 9 months and then I pushed a 9lb 11oz screaming, bloody human out of a 10 centimeter, let me repeat TEN CENTIMETER, hole from my vagina and I’m somehow deemed as lazy or that I’ve let myself go if I don’t have abs within a year? Get the f**k out of here with that nonsense. We have to stop holding other women, and especially ourselves to an otherwise impossible standard after giving birth. If you ever feel that outside pressure to lose your baby weight, just remember these reasons why “getting your body back” is absolute B.S.:
1. Your body didn’t go anywhere.
You can’t get your body back. It didn’t leave. It was right there with you, creating another person’s freaking eye balls and lungs and a heart. All your body was doing was going through a metamorphosis to sustain another life. It is important we honor that body that did this immensely challenging thing for an extended period of time. Love that plump round body and the one with the excess skin that followed after, just as much as you loved the one that wore crop tops to college parties. Of course it is easier said than done, we know this. We have those days where we think a taller Danny DeVito is staring back at us in the mirror, but this is still your body. This is the body that has created and birthed life and of course that comes with some new additions (like excess skin, stretch marks, or cellulite). I think so many of us spend so much time hating that body, that we forget we can put energy into loving and appreciating it for what it is too.
2. Your body, your business.
We have a tendency to allow other people, and especially society, dictate how we feel about our physical selves. No one else should have a say about how often you’re exercising or what you’re eating unless you’re paying them to have a say. I think this become especially true with spouses and partners, and their say on your “after-baby body” and the pressure whether it is intentional or not, to look the way you looked when you first met. Tell them to butt out! They are not the ones who just went through this physically traumatic experience! You shouldn’t allow them to give you a timeline as to when it’s acceptable to ‘bounce back’. Whether you want to lose any weight you gained or not, and the time you take to do it, is completely up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
3. Embrace the changes that happen postpartum, don’t fight them.
I absolutely hated the fact that I had stretch marks all around my stomach, in addition to the excess skin. I was 23 when I had my son, and I felt like I was instantly aged, my youth stripped away. I looked so different from all of my childless friends. I sure as hell looked different from all of the girls I followed on Instagram. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact it wasn’t going away, and wasn’t something I could change unless I had the bank account of a Kardashian. I only came to terms with the changes in my body when I started to realize what an immensely powerful thing my body had actually done. I also changed my mindset on getting fit, and it became less about losing weight and more about getting strong. Strong enough to keep up with my increasingly active son. I wanted to take him on hilly walks around our city to the park. I wanted to run with him at the beach, play with him in the pool. I didn’t have time to worry about how my body looked, or looked to other people. I had a kid I had to wear out so he’d get some sleep, dammit! My body needed to be in-shape and needed to be active enough so that I could lug this, 90th percentile for size, child around by myself. I needed the strength to pop a stroller in and out of my car. The agility to sprint after a kid who had something small in his mouth. I stopped worrying about my stretch marks, my excess skin, and started concerning myself with just feeling really good! My body has been changing as the years go on, just as ours all do, and every time I start thinking to hate it, I remind myself about this awesome thing it did for 9 months and beyond!
I think once we, as the postpartum mother and not anyone else, begin to change our outlook on what an “after-baby body” is, and just accept that it’s still our body just with a few more bells & whistles, we can finally stop the madness and the inward and outward pressure to look a certain way after a baby. We should also probably rule the world, but that’s just one mom’s opinion.