Calling Time On... Postpartum 'Bounce Back' - The M Word

Calling Time On… Postpartum ‘Bounce Back’

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Pregnancy is one of life’s most intense journeys. Our bodies are powerful and resilient as they grow our babies and endure both physical and emotional changes. Some of us will experience permanent changes to our body throughout pregnancy and following birth.  This might be in the form of stretch marks, loose skin, permanently wider feet (thanks pregnancy hormones) and scars.

Our journey into the postnatal period and looking after a newborn is hard enough. Add the relentless pressure to ‘get our body back,’ ‘lose the baby weight’ or conceal the marks of pregnancy and it’s no surprise so many new mums feel shit about themselves on a regular basis.

Why are we told we need to hide all visual evidence of pregnancy? Why do we feel shame about our bodies that worked so hard to sustain a life and bring it into the world?

The expectation to ‘get our body back’ is everywhere; television ads, magazines, plastered all over the internet and more.

Even before birth mums to be are slathering their bumps with creams promising to prevent stretch marks. New mums are a perfect target for the weight loss and beauty industry gurus. Post baby weight loss plans, ill-fitting belly binders, postpartum fitness boot camps, tummy tucks, breast lifts, vaginal reconstruction surgery, and more…

They all appeal to the same twisted belief- your body isn’t as good as it once was and you better do something about it.

So we throw our time, attention and money at things that promise to fix the problem- our postpartum body. We make promises to ourselves- I’ll bring my baby to the pool once I lose the baby weight. I’ll update my wardrobe once I earn it through exercise and detoxing. I will attend the playgroup once my body jiggles a little less. We put life on hold until we decide our body somehow resembles its pre-pregnancy state.

Let this message ring clear: your body did not go anywhere during pregnancy and you don’t have to ‘get it back.’ The postpartum bounce back is a MYTH. You will never be the same person you were before you were pregnant, physically or emotionally. This is not a negative thing.

Our mind and bodies are constantly evolving. You are worthy of love, appreciation and success now, no matter your body shape. You don’t need to ‘bounce back’ to start enjoying life as a new parent. Your ability to parent has nothing to do with your weight or body shape.

You are so much more than how your body looks and there is value in all that you do as a new parent.

I implore you to start appreciating your body and all it has been through. While you may not ever love your stretch marks or a caesarean scar, you can start to accept them as part of your story and journey to becoming a mum. Changing your inner dialogue and the script of your life from one of self loathing to body positivity can do wonders for your physical and emotional health following birth. With kindness and self-compassion we can release the idea that our life is more valuable when we’re thin or toned or whatever it may be. Release that need to ‘bounce back,’ take each day as it comes and remember that you are enough, just as you are.

Michelle Mayefske
Michelle Mayefske
Michelle is a birth doula and the owner of Limerick Doula Services. She supports families throughout pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum days. Michelle is a mum of four and a self-proclaimed body positivity enthusiast. She is passionate about helping women embrace their bodies by ditching years of guilt and body shame!