I should start by saying that I am NOT mom-shaming her for showing off her body. It’s beautiful, and she should love the skin she’s in, while cherishing the body that built her precious little babe. I think every woman, regardless of shape or size, should learn to embrace, and celebrate, their incredible bodies. That being said, it’s much easier said than done, and I need to learn how to apply that mindset to my own life.
Long before I saw those two pink lines on my pregnancy test, I feared the changes carrying a child would have on my body. A scale that showed an increasing number was my nemesis. I went as far as pinning an article on my Pinterest page titled “How to Have a Belly Only Pregnancy” (I literally just rolled my eyes at myself) and brainstormed ideas on how I would lose the weight I had yet to even gain. Society and, in turn, social media put an insane amount of pressure, and unrealistic expectations, on pregnant and postpartum women. After we’ve either pushed a baby out of our very vulnerable nether regions or had the baby (or babies!) surgically removed from our uterus, we are expected to do it all. Oh, you just had your lower abdomen cut open or you have stitches in your perineum as you lose what you assume to be your entire blood count? That’s nice, now please take care of this tiny, helpless, human while simultaneously healing both mentally and physically. Oh, and don’t forget you need to grocery shop for healthy foods, clean your house, and get back to exercising and having sex just six weeks postpartum…all with a smile on your face. No biggie, right? As I typed that sentenced I LOL’d. While I know the female sex is superior and we ARE superwomen, asking that of a new mom is plain crazy. And it doesn’t help the fact that there are social media accounts of women who are, seemingly, doing it all and making it look easy. But I’m here to tell you: That. Ain’t. Real.
Let’s get one thing very, very clear: people use Instagram and Facebook to showcase their best moments and angles. I am one of those people. You will see photos of my husband and I smiling together before a date night, but what you won’t see is a photo of us, on opposite sides of the couch, because we just had an argument about how I treat my car (that is not a typo for cat – my husband loves cars and gets very irritated when I casually bump into his or mine with an object like say, the diaper bag/stroller/car seat). You also will not see a photo of my stomach rolls (hashtag Spanx); but what you will see is a photo that I deem “good enough,” for social media. Someone who doesn’t see my day-to-day but follows my Instagram said to me the other day, “wow, your daughter is always so happy!” UH, NOPE. My daughter is four months old and is most definitely not always happy. But those are the photos I post because I prefer her gummy smile to her grumpy, whiny, face or screams of terror. My point is, those photos that we compare ourselves or our lives to are someone else’s best moments. That casual mirror selfie or photo of a mom sharing a Kodak moment with her toddler was probably taken ten times before it was considered acceptable to share with the world (and that toddler was likely being uncooperative for nine of them).
It’s important to remember that those #FitMoms or friends you follow and use as inspiration are human. They have bad days and, I promise you, do not have it all together. When I’m feeling anxious or down about a particular area of my life, I like to break things up into two lists: things I can control and things I can’t control. This helps what feels overwhelming become a little more manageable and reminds me that I am not totally helpless or useless when it comes to making change. As far as post-baby weight and body image struggles go, I suggest starting with the following:
|Things You Can’t Control
|Things You Can Control
|1.) Your genetic makeup
|1.) Grabbing healthier snacks to stock your pantry with
|2.) Someone else’s genetic makeup
|2.) Incorporating exercise, whatever that may mean to you, into your daily/weekly life
|3.) The resources that #FitMom has access to/how much she does or doesn’t exercise
|3.) Not eating an entire bag of Cadbury chocolate mini eggs in one sitting (what I may or may not have done last week); but if you do, don’t beat yourself up about it
|4.) What dress or jean size that other mama wears
|4.) Unfollowing social media profiles that don’t bring joy or add value to your life
|5.) What filter to photo-editing app Kylie Jenner uses
|5.) Learning to love yourself and that incredible body that gifted you your tiny human(s)
|6.) What someone else eats or doesn’t eat
|6.) Delegate/ask for help!
Let’s chat quickly about delegating. I believe some of the most successful people in the world are master delegators, and it’s one of the most underrated things you can do to make your life a little easier. Since we’ve already covered how much is expected of new mamas, it should be no secret that asking for help is absolutely necessary (even though it can be difficult to do so). If you’re like me and hate asking for help, I have a couple ideas on how to delegate your tasks without having to ask a friend to stop by the store, or your mother in law to cook for your family.
- Model Meals (for you SoCal and San Fran ladies): this service delivers fully cooked, healthy, meals to your doorstep. Zero prep, cooking, and clean up?! Yes, please. Added bonus! Type in “newmomschool” at checkout and get a discount on your first order!
- Instacart/AmazonFresh: Yes, these services cost you a small fee and sometimes a gratuity but let me tell you: I started using Instacart about 3 weeks ago it is a GAMECHANGER. It is so nice to simply create a list on an app, pick a delivery window, and have someone else do my grocery shopping. Now I can spend that one hour on a walk outside with my daughter vs. navigating the food store aisles buying unnecessary, hunger-driven, snacks.
So, did Miss Jenner really teach me to chill out? No, of course not. But her viral selfie was a trigger for me to conclude that I need to stop with the comparisons. You will not look like another woman who is expecting, or had a baby, at the same time as you, because no two pregnancies and postpartum experiences are the same. Many things impact how your body responds to child bearing, so while I am an advocate of making (mostly) healthy choices and staying (relatively) active, that will look different for every single person.
I’ll leave you with this – a friendly reminder: Your kids won’t remember your pant size or if you had cellulite on your legs. They’re going to remember the cuddles, laughter, and love they get from you every single day. So, show yourself some grace and cut yourself some slack; society asks the world of you, and you’re absolutely killing it.