It’s rare in polite company (and clearly this is not polite company, so pull up a chair) to really talk about how pregnancy and birth change you physically. When we do talk about it, we tend to gloss over what a profound and messy and completely monumental and frankly pretty alarming thing has happened to us. Even for women who didn’t give birth to their children, the act of motherhood is entirely physical — anyone who’s ever carried a baby all day in a sling or crouched over awkwardly holding a toddler’s hand as she demands to go up the stairs ... and down ... and up … and down (and up!) … can tell you. We created Body Builders, Romper’s inaugural issue, to acknowledge and celebrate not just the physical transformation that comes with being a mom, but how motherhood creates new knowledge of our bodies and, in some ways, new selves. Sometimes our pants don’t zip, our hair falls out, and we need new bras, but we are doing something amazing, and that journey doesn’t end when our babies turn 1, or 2, or even 15. It’s ongoing, and this issue, launching today, is our exploration of what it really means to reclaim your body after growing a child in it, and as you love and nurture those children outside of and with it.
As new moms we're taught to focus more on “bouncing back” than on how we continue to grow — how we build and how we earn our “mom bods” moment by moment, milestone by milestone. That's why anchoring this issue is our Mom Bod series, launching today, in which we explore — through their stories and gorgeous photos — how women whose bodies have challenging roles outside of motherhood navigate this ongoing process, and the entire spectrum of emotions it evokes. You’ll meet six new mothers whose livelihood and vocations depend on their physical selves, from Caissie Levy, who is currently starring in the physically demanding role of Elsa in Frozen on Broadway, to Detective Maysa Washington of the Newark Police Department, who returns every day from her unrelenting job as a special victims unit officer not to put up her feet (LOL), but instead to care for her energetic 2-year-old daughter. We also dive into the mythical, misunderstood, and woefully underreported world of postpartum recovery, with pieces on the importance of touch for new moms, what students actually learn about pregnancy in med school (and what they don’t), the emotional response to that first moment with a hand mirror after childbirth, and a powerful report on why the 6-week postpartum checkup is, to put it mildly, total B.S.
Once you acquire a baby, of course, you have to feed it.
To be pregnant is to embark on an endlessly surprising journey, where it can feel like our bodies, our selves, are no longer our own, no longer even completely familiar to us. That’s a serious mind-trip. In today’s launch of I’m Craving, we take a look what it means to be a mom-to-be in search of exactly the right thing to satisfy that specific alien desire that woke her up in the middle of the night (or, like me, or compelled her up from her desk every afternoon right around 3 p.m., out of the office and down the street to the place where they make the absolute best, and entirely necessary, chocolate-strawberry milkshakes). We may never know what causes us to suddenly and intensely NEED something that’s crunchy but not a nut, or the perfect degree of sour, or just plain CHOCOLATE GIVE IT TO ME NOW, but with the help of dozens of understanding fellow women, we can at the very least help you satisfy that craving.
And the cravings don’t end with pregnancy, as our annotated postpartum Seamless order shows. No, you are not the only person to have a double order of samosas delivered to your hospital bed.
Once you acquire a baby, of course, you have to feed it, triggering motherhood’s next physical feat: getting food into the infant. Not everyone breastfeeds, but those who do, whether for a few days or a few years, know that it typically involves many questions. Enter: Rack Facts, our ongoing breastfeeding advice series where we tap lactation consultants to answer the real, specific breastfeeding questions moms actually have. (We know because our readers — and we — asked them.)
However you got to motherhood, chances are you would like one day a year when you get to be off duty, namely a Mother’s Day that you don’t have to orchestrate. Our What The Actual columnist Jenny True has advice for how to make Mother's Day suck less for all of us. (By the way, have you met Jenny? If not, then may I just say in advance, you’re welcome, and you’re probably going to pee a little.)
Whether you plucked your baby out of a cabbage patch (if only) or endured every assisted reproductive technology there is, one thing every mom is all too familiar with is criticism. From the moment they spot a bump, or an un-socked baby foot or, heaven forbid, a pacifier, strangers and family members alike mysteriously feel they have the right to comment, to criticize, and to touch. Our content series Shameless not only dives into the ways in which we are shamed as mothers, from day 1, and what we can do about it, but addresses the taboo topic of the hurtful shaming that comes from the people who should unequivocally have our backs, our partners. And, we take a painfully honest look at what causes us to turn that shaming finger on our fellow moms, and why it can feel so good.
Motherhood changes everything, and then never stops leaving its mark on us.
Last, but certainly not least, Body Builders acknowledges and embraces the truth that now and then, sometimes feeling good about our new and evolving selves comes from … without. That can mean finding the one item of postpartum clothing that we couldn’t live without, something we cheer on in our ongoing Mom Jeans series, this month featuring the beloved blogger Meg Boggs, who reveals the magical robe that saved her postpartum. And sometimes it’s discovering a beauty product that actually makes us feel (sort of) like a human again in those beautiful but damn grueling early months of motherhood. (I’ll never forget opening the mail one day, my baby girl only a few weeks old, to find that makeup palette my best friend Amy had sent me, because she knew I was too overwhelmed and stressed about money to buy my own.) A La Cart is a shoppable list of just those products, recommended by actual moms who have been there.
Because we are body builders! We took the prenatal vitamins, we drank that awful concoction for the glucose tests, we wore mesh undies and carried around perineal irrigation bottles, we nursed painful C-section scars while trying to nurse our newborns, we mixed the formula wrong and learned to function on a new definition of “sleep.” Motherhood changes everything, and then never stops leaving its mark on us, but from product recommendations to advice on really difficult stuff like trying to find yourself again after losing yourself in new motherhood and attempting to breastfeed when your boobs are lopsided, other women have been there, body and mind. This issue is an opportunity to step back and look at all that we're building — together.
- April Daniels Hussar, Deputy Editor, Romper