This Mom's Postpartum Bump Pic Shows What Women's Bodies Really Look Like After Giving Birth

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Ask any woman who has given birth for the first time, and she'll likely agree that looking at her body in the mirror after her baby was born was a bit of a shock. That's because even though you're no longer pregnant, it takes a little while before you actually look that way. Like most women, New Hampshire mom Courtney Baird learned that lesson after giving birth to her now-2-year-old daughter, Everly, in 2015, so after recently welcoming her son, Forden, into the world, the popular Instagram mama decided to get real with her followers. Baird's post-pregnancy Instagram bump pic shows what women's bodies really look like after giving birth, and it's something everyone needs to see.

In an interview with Us Weekly, Baird spoke about the decision to share a photo of her belly at one week postpartum with her nearly 17,000 Instagram followers, and told the magazine that, during her first pregnancy, she assumed her baby bump would just automatically deflate after her baby was born. Instead, she saw someone who still looked pregnant, and it made her realize just how unrealistic our cultural emphasis on "bouncing back after baby" really is — as well as how social media often perpetuates those impossible standards. So in order to push back against the Instagram trend of freshly-postpartum women "walking out in their skinny jeans with no signs that they just had a baby,” Baird shared a real before-and-after — and the internet rejoiced.

In the snap, shared on Nov. 6, Baird can first be seen posing in a robe while still heavily pregnant, and then again in the same pose postpartum, this time in a bra and sweatpants. In each instance Baird has her bare belly on display, and while she certainly looks much less pregnant in the second photo, if you saw that photo by itself it wouldn't necessarily be a stretch to assume she was just another mom early on in her pregnancy, documenting her growing tummy for posterity.

One week after sharing the pic, Baird updated her followers with yet another progress photo, this time comparing herself at "40 weeks +" to herself two weeks postpartum. And sure enough, her baby bump was still hanging around. But as she noted in the photo's caption, there was a very good reason for it: Baird wrote that it actually takes about four weeks for a woman's uterus to shrink back down to its pre-pregnancy size (according to WebMD, the process can actually take 6-8 weeks).

Posting photos of her adorable family under the Instagram handle, @aforeverlylove, Baird has attracted a solid following of people who can't seem to get enough of the self-described "happily married mama of two," and what appears to be her picture-perfect life. Baird is stylish, her kids are gorgeous, and her maternity photos look like they could easily appear in a magazine. In other words, she's the ultimate millennial "Instagram Mom."

But Baird's willingness to open up about her less-than-envy-inducing moments after giving birth has definitely seemed to resonate. Her photo has now earned more than 15,000 likes, and a slew of comments praising her for her honesty, and for the important reminder that women should be proud of their bodies after giving birth, not critical. In the original post's caption, Baird wrote,

Getting your body back after baby takes time and hard work. It's not going to happen overnight, and definitely not in a week either ... For now I'll just remind MYSELF to be kind about my body and all the hard work it did to grow not only our sweet girl 2 years ago, but also our big healthy 9 lb 4 oz baby boy a little over a week ago. You did good body, you did good.

It might be only natural to want your body to look "back to normal" as soon as possible — and, to be fair, a number of commenters on Baird's post said that, in their opinion, their bodies actually did. But "bouncing back" isn't something that should be expected from any woman, and it definitely shouldn't be something to worry about or criticize yourself for.

Pregnancy is a time of huge changes in a woman's body, and the birth process is intense (especially if you've had a C-section, aka major abdominal surgery). There's no question that it will take time to heal (some experts have estimated that it can take up to a year to fully recover), and the best thing any woman can do for herself during that time is be as kind and accepting of her own body as possible.

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