After three kids, I know what to expect after giving birth. A week or two after having a baby, I start getting compliments. They tell me I look great, ask me what I am doing. I say thank you and nothing, I’m just feeding a baby around the clock. A few weeks later, the compliments stop because my weight loss has stopped, too. Typically, I start to get messages on social media, inviting me to join a fitness group or to buy wraps that will help me get back to my postpartum body. Even though I've had three kids, it hasn’t gotten easier to ignore the conversations about postpartum bodies or the way people talk about my postpartum body. I want to let the compliments and the advice roll of my shoulders, but I’m honestly so tired of the entire conversation surrounding postpartum bodies.
There are two sides to the conversation about women’s bodies after giving birth: There are those who believe in "bouncing back," in working hard to look like you did before you became a mom, and then there are those who preach total acceptance, who believe women who've had children should celebrate how our bodies have changed and learn to love who we have become since giving birth.
A few months ago, I would have said I belonged to the movement of body acceptance, but something in me has changed since giving birth to my third baby a few months ago.
Now that I'm two months postpartum, I’m not talking about losing weight and I’m not defending my right to be happy at any size. Instead, I simply want to stop talking about my body altogether. Honestly, in my life as a working mom of three, this conversation surrounding the way I look, how I look, and whether or not it's OK that I look this way has become such an annoyance.
Why not ask us how we are feeling? Are we getting time to take care of ourselves? Is there anything you can to help?
I know that the people who want to talk about postpartum bodies mostly well. They (other mothers, feminists, body-confidence activists, good people) want women who've just given birth to be and feel healthy and they want us to love our bodies. Maybe they think our wellbeing rests on our ability to lose 10 pounds or our happiness depends solely on our ability to love our extra 10 pounds. But no matter which side it comes from, the practice of discussing women’s bodies after the magic of giving birth has grown a little stale. I feel frustrated that, as a culture, we've made it so routine to talk about our weight and the shapes of our bodies so frequently and with such ease. Honestly, I'd just like to stop talking about the way my body looks — 10 days or 10 months after baby — altogether.
More than anything, I'm exhausted by the entire conversation surrounding postpartum bodies because most moms have much bigger things going on in their lives that the way we look. Why not ask us how we are feeling? Are we getting time to take care of ourselves? Is there anything you can to help? Most days I am so busy that my body is that last thing on my mind. I’d like to be able to get up each day, to get dressed for comfort, without a concern over how I look, and tackle my everyday tasks without feeling or caring that my weight is yet another thing on my plate.
My body may never "bounce back," but it has bounced miles and miles ahead.
Honestly, I’m tired of talking about my postpartum body because my weight is the least of my concerns. I don't think about “bouncing back” or reaching a certain number on the scale that signifies I've somehow returned to the body I had before I gave birth to children. And after struggling with postpartum depression after the births of my first two children, this time around I'm much more worried about meeting my emotional needs than the fit of my pants.
As we check in the new moms in our lives and do our best to be supportive, good friends during this new season of their lives, let’s not forget that women are so much more than their bodies. In the adventure of becoming a new mom, we need a listening ear or someone to hold the baby, not another tired talk about weight loss or magazine cover after magazine cover that details all the ways our bodies aren't "what they used to be" solely because we've given birth to babies.
My body provides for my children in ways I never thought I'd ever understand. I have birthed, fed, and sustained life. I get up day after day and tend to the needs of three very different, budding personalities. I am a never-ending fountain of love, of hugs, of kisses and encouragement. My body has done much more than I could have ever asked of it. In fact, my body has done far more than I would've ever thought to ask of it. It gives and gives and gives. And when I think have nothing more to give, it astounds me, yet again, with its ability to deliver. My body may never "bounce back," but it has bounced miles and miles ahead — further and stronger than I could have ever imagined was possible. Isn't that something worth talking about?