Why it’s time we start normalizing postpartum bodies: 'Moms should feel so proud of themselves'
When it comes to sharing pregnancy pictures - and let's face it, all of the photos - we usually go for the highlight role over the #nofilter shots. After all, cute baby bumps and smiles are a lot easier to explain than morning sickness and maybe even tears.
The same goes for postpartum photos. With all the body shame and stories of celebrities "rebounding" just 25 minutes after giving birth, you can forgive new mothers if they doubt their photos of stretch marks, sagging skin, or - gasp - weight gain. Besides, who should be told that they need a "$ 20,000 Mommy Makeover"?
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“I think it's so important to normalize, accept your body, and be proud of your body for who you are,” says Kristin Reyes, a postnatal nurse, In The Know. "Mothers should be so proud of themselves no matter what [their] body looks like or how it feels."
After all, they just gave birth to a new human.
Won't my body just “snap back”?
But with all the negativity surrounding postpartum body image, some expectant mothers feel like they can trick the Jedi spirit into keeping all of this from happening.
"So many mothers say, 'Oh yeah, I'll just push this baby out and my body will snap back,'" Reyes says. “That absolutely does not happen. You have stretch marks. Your nipples are raw. Your nipples are cracked. You have gained weight. You have a lot of extra skin that just hangs around. "
Stretch marks, the light or dark "indented streaks" that can appear on the skin during pregnancy, are caused by two main factors, according to the American Pregnancy Association - physical stretching of the skin and increased levels of hormones. And while stretch marks are common in the abdominal area, they can also appear on the thighs, breasts, hips, lower back, and buttocks.
“And that's fine,” Reyes confirms. “That means you just had a baby for nine months. I think that's just absolutely unbelievable. "
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Mothers whose birth histories include caesarean sections also have this scar, the result of major abdominal surgery that gave birth to their child or multiple children.
"Our caesarean mothers have this cut," says Reyes, "but this cut should remind you that this was the way out for your baby."
Of course there is also the sagging breast situation. "Sometimes you have those firm breasts right after you give birth because your milk is there," explains Reyes, "and when you finish breastfeeding your breasts are slack and that's fine too."
Wear your new body with pride
Granted, all of that sounds daunting. (And we haven't even mentioned the disposable mesh underwear yet.) But that's why moms should be proud to wear their new bodysuits. For starters, you've literally just grown human in your body, and many mothers continue to use their bodies as the sole source of food for their babies. Besides, you are not alone. More women than you think are going through the same thing.
In fact, in a recent study, BabyCenter interviewed nearly 7,000 new mothers with babies ranging in age from a few days to four years. When it came to weight loss after giving birth, 61% of these mothers confirmed what Reyes told us. That is, they expected to regain their pre-pregnancy weight by their child's first birthday. (Jedi mind trick, anyone?)
As it turned out, 87% of these mothers added that their stomachs had not returned to their previous state - or that their clothes were just sitting differently now.
Unfortunately, 64% of women surveyed stated that "their body image has deteriorated since becoming a mother".
What we can do to normalize postpartum bodies
What can parents and non-parents do to normalize bodies after birth? In a few words, stay real. Go ahead and share the good, the bad, and the unexpectedly beautiful.
Celebrities like Katy Perry, Aja Naomi King and Iskra Lawrence have already jumped on the postpartum positivity bandwagon and post pictures of themselves with inspiring messages.
"Weight, still feel cute," Lawrence captioned her latest Instagram post.
But it is the so-called everyday mothers who can perhaps make the biggest difference. You know, those who don't have access to expensive personal trainers, chefs, or “mom makeover” money. And there are plenty of them on platforms like TikTok and Instagram who share their stories alongside their stretchies.
“Mothers are just total Bada ** women. What a woman's human body can do is absolutely incredible, ”says Reyes. “You literally feed a baby that lives inside you, and then it's a very different life. It's just a miracle to me. "
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If you found this story insightful, read about this mom who shut down a body-damaging TikToker.
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The post Why the Time to Normalize Postpartum Bodies first appeared on In The Know.
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