Why, oh WHY do we shame the post birth body? Why do we wait eagerly for women to return to ‘their normal selves’ once their baby is born? There is no normal self now! There is no returning to life as it was before. There is no point in wishing you could go back either. The post birth body is a super hero! Why do we want to change it?
I recently witnessed a conversation about a new mum, who is no doubt desperately in love with her new baby and hopefully thinking of far more important things than the size of her jeans. Such as keeping her baby alive, filling her baby with love and nourishment and maybe even tending to her own basic needs at some point too. Hopefully she was not thinking about the size of her body now, the work she has ahead of her to ‘get back to normal’ or the fact that her size 8 jeans are most likely to remain at the back of the wardrobe for the rest of eternity.
How dare we?
How dare we do this to new mums? How dare we take away what they have done, and reduce it to what we think they should look like. Never mind what they are like as a person, as long as they are inoffensive to unrealistic material ideals… Never mind the fact that they have recently grown a human being inside their body. Never mind the fact that their body is now feeding that baby. Keeping a person alive! Providing nourishment, nutrition and love! Whether you breastfeed or not, your body doesn’t stop after birth. It produced milk. It keeps on going. That is the body’s way of telling the world that there are far more amazing things happening right now.
The post birth body should not be shamed. Or ridiculed or pointed at. The post birth body should not be made to cover up, or hide in shadows, or feel inadequate. The post birth body should not be the subject of a pitiful conversation between fellow women who really should know better. The post birth body should be celebrated!
The post birth body is nothing short of miraculous. It spends nine months making another human being. It spends hours and hours and hours bringing that human being into the world. It makes food to keep that human being alive. The hormones, the chemicals, the instincts that surge around that body are amazing. All perfectly synchronised and designed to mother. To nurture. To protect. And all on little sleep, little thanks and great expectations.
And we expect our new mums to ‘bounce back’. To throw themselves into motherhood. To enjoy every moment. Yet if we cannot help them to love even their own body, how can we help them to love all that being a mother entails? How can we expect new mums to feel empowered, strong and confident? How can we expect them to not feel inadequate if we cannot help them to love themselves, now?
The post birth body is, at times, ugly. It bleeds, it aches and it sweats. But my goodness, so does every other body on the planet. It is often larger than it was nine months previously. It has stretched and it has changed shape, probably forever. But there are other bodies that have done the same thing too. A body that is slightly overused, under loved and misunderstood is not a new phenomenon. But acceptance starts at home.
Its time we accepted the post birth body. Don’t shame the new mum who doesn’t jump straight back into her jeans. Don’t envy the mum who weighs less than she did before. Stand together. Stand proud. Be amazed at what you’ve achieved.
Be proud of your post birth body.