Something that has really started to bug me is the pressure placed on women to 1) have noticeable abs while pregnant, and 2) gain their "pre-pregnancy body" back as quickly as they can after giving birth. Okay, #1 may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but still--Instagram is full of those (not that I'm saying that's bad either). As for post pregnancy, you're never going to have your pre-pregnancy body back, and that's not a bad thing. You just birthed a tiny human and things have changed. Your hoo-haw looks different, your hips may have shifted or grown, and your breasts may also look different. Plus you may have that mysterious brown line that goes up your stomach and I don't know at what point that completely fades away, if at all. I'm nearly five months postpartum and mine is still there. If anything, pregnancy and birth have taught me to love my body and see it for the incredible machine it is. Not only did I make and grow a tiny human inside me, I then birthed it into this crazy world and even crazier year. So, I just wanted to remind any woman out there feeling concerned about her body image that, you are a superhero.
When you think about it, it is completely bonkers how our society has put this kind of pressure on women, amongst others. When I learned I was pregnant, I was somewhat disappointed, because I had gained eight to ten pounds in the year after I turned 30 and was in the process of losing it so that whenever I got pregnant, I could already be fit. So, since I could no longer do that, I kept telling myself I was going to be like Gisele and all the other celebs who have super fit pregnancies. That did not happen. I did some working out and walked as much as I could, but there were definitely times I did very little to nothing. I'm pretty sure I stopped intentional physical activity once I hit my 3rd trimester. Part of that was also because I was trying to get as much work done before I had to take a break.
Still, my motivation to have a fit pregnancy should have been for the health of my baby and my own, not because of my vanity. And once I was pregnant, the baby's health was of course a priority, but that didn't lessen the desire to not gain too much weight during pregnancy. Everyone's pregnancy is different though. Some people don't gain that much weight, and some people gain more than others. At first, I was super careful, then somewhere further along in my second trimester, I realized my weight gain was pretty slow and steady and eating all the churros at Disneyland did not seem to cause me to gain anymore than I steadily was. So then I relaxed, still trying not to gain too much weight, but not worried about weight gain...if that makes sense. There are of course health concerns for gaining too much weight though, so in general it's not just a vanity thing, but for me it was.
I was thinking about it, and I'm grateful to the Duchess of Cambridge for showing the world what a post birth body looks like. Before her, I had no idea that you could still look pregnant after birth, and that's because your body needs time to shrink back down after it was inflated for nine months. That was really important, because otherwise we're used to seeing celebrities go from pregnant, to fit like nothing happened, and often very quickly.
So, for anyone having an "ugly day," or who just needs to hear it, here are a few reminders:
1. YOU'RE NOT UGLY!
End of story.
2. Comparison is the thief of joy.
Enjoy your pregnancy and enjoy your newborn. These moments go by too quickly. I remember laying in the hospital staring at my belly because a few hours earlier there was a big belly, and all of a sudden it was gone and my son was next to me (mine actually did almost completely disappear right away and that was weird). Additionally, we all know newborns grow so quickly, so don't miss out on all the amazingness of watching them grow by worrying about your figure. To clarify, I'm not saying don't workout, because working out is not only good for your physical health and your mental health. But if you're focused on being fit during pregnancy or losing weight quickly after pregnancy, you're going to miss out on the many joys that come during this time.
3. You birthed a tiny human!!!
Let's not forget that you just grew and gave birth to a tiny human. Give your body a break! It worked hard, and it needs to recover.
4. You are a SUPERHERO.
I think most of us realize that being able to grow and birth a human is what makes women so strong and incredible; but I don't think we really realize the degree of that strength until we're in labor and in the delivery room. Thank your body for everything it does and has done for you and your baby. God was not joking around when he made women!
5. Down with the Patriarchy!
We still have centuries of patriarchal practices and misogynistic view points to undo. So be healthy for you and for baby, not for the unrealistic social pressures placed on women.
These are just a few little reminders that your body deserves love and you deserve to love your body. We need to stop this nonsense with getting back our "pre-pregnancy bodies" because frankly, I don't want mine. The body I have now, is the one that created and birthed life. It's the one that continues to give me strength to nurture my son. Besides, if you're constantly carrying, lifting, and playing with your baby like I am, you'll at least never need another arm day at the gym, maybe more!
Love and be kind to yourself!