Part two of my analysis of the question "are you pregnant" that has come my way in the last few weeks and has made me really sit down and unpack this statement. Outside of my own wrestling with body image postpartum, these encounters have really stayed with my lately. I felt it was important to sit down with them and really give them my attention to understand why they were brining up such strong feelings for me. Here's part 2 of 3 of that exploration (if you missed part 1, check it out here)...
The question "are you pregnant?" presupposes that there is something about my body that looks pregnant. And underneath that is the more subtle assumption, that postpartum bodies should go back to looking how they looked before they were pregnant. This is a harmful assumption for many reasons.
Most bodies never look exactly how they looked prior to pregnancy. Whether there are stretch marks, extra skin or fat in places there weren't before the postpartum body is a roadmap of growing, birthing and caring for a child. Layered on the changes that happen to the body during pregnancy is the vast spectrum of postpartum changes that happen. Breast tissue changes for those who nurse or pump, hormones continue to fluctuate and metabolic changes postpartum, combined with sleeplessness, different patterns of exercise and nutrition all impact what our body looks like.
And even those who eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly will never have their pre-baby body back. And why the heck should we? What is so important about the body we had prior to having a baby?
Yet underneath the question, "are you pregnant?", is the statement that "there is something wrong with the postpartum body because it cannot be accepted as anything but a pregnant body." And that is a HUGE problem. This idea pushes diets, weight loss programs and all sorts of guilt and shaming for new parents about "bouncing back", all of which can be extremely harmful to actually finding wellness and health postpartum.
Let me tell you a secret, there's nothing to bounce back to. Becoming a parent means embracing a new you on so many levels and also letting go of many parts of the old you. More on that in part 3...
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.