Kate Middleton’s photo leaving the hospital after giving birth to baby number three has a lot of women talking about what giving birth and post-birth bodies actually look like.
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It’s a perfect time to talk about a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while: “the bounce back.” Most of us don’t have teams of people to help us look fabulous less than 24 hours after having a baby. If you looked and felt like Kate Middleton after having your children then aren’t you lucky! Most of us feel and look like we just got hit by a semi. All we want to do is sit on ice packs and cuddle our new baby so we can be reminded that all the pain and damage our body just endured was worth it.
We head home and are now supposed to be concerned with our body “bouncing back” while taking care of one or several tiny dictators. It is way past time to ditch the term bounce back. It’s time to ditch the expectation that our bodies should and will return to how they looked before we grew an entire person inside of us! Now, I’m not saying health and weight aren’t important, they are. You owe it to yourself and your kids to be healthy so you can be with them for a long time. But, the fact is, you’re never going to look exactly like you did before.
Let’s recap some of the changes your body went through:
- Hips expand
- Breasts swell (and don’t get me started on what breastfeeding does to them)
- Stomach grows large (you may even have stretch marks)
- Your organs completely rearrange themselves
- Your vagina dilates to 10cm (or more if your kid has a giant head)
- If you had a c-section you had major surgery!
Your life will never be the same after baby and neither will your body, and that’s ok! Your body did something amazing, it literally created life, that is and should be an altering experience. When a man has scars it’s often considered “sexy”. Your scars or stretch marks are no fewer signs of a battle well fought. Wear them with pride.
Ladies, the fact is, that the bounce-back standard is largely propagated by women on ourselves and onto other women. Just like other unrealistic standards of beauty the magazines and internet don’t help either. We see many celebrities who look fantastic just weeks after having their baby. We see photos of Kate Middleton looking sleek, refreshed, and put together just hours after baby number three. Ladies, we don’t have personal trainers, or hair and make-up teams. Let’s not put unrealistic standards on ourselves
Who knows, Kate may have even been wearing the big sexy mesh underwear (you know the ones I’m talking about) under that lovely red dress and probably went home and finally relaxed to get some much-needed sleep. Bless her for putting up with all that nonsense. Here is me 8ish hours after having my baby. You couldn’t have paid me to have someone do my hair, put on a dress and heels and have someone take photos of me. All I wanted to do was sleep and figure out what to do with this little person they had put me in charge of. I don’t envy her position at all.
The only ones who can push back on the “bounce-back” expectation are us! We can encourage and support each other. We can let other women know that it’s ok to not fit back into your pre-pregnancy jeans 6 weeks after giving birth, if ever. We can instead celebrate out post-pregnancy bodies and the amazing things they have done.
We can do what women have been doing all over social media the last week or so…sharing our unplugged, unedited photos of motherhood. This lets other women know that this is quite normal. And maybe it will save some father to be from being shocked when his wife doesn’t look put together eight hours after having a baby.