As much fun as it is to see gorgeous posts from celebrity moms, the constant flood of "perfect" postpartum bodies being paraded by the media can really get under someone's skin. And it appears that this is a universal thought amongst most moms. For instance, this mom posted an amazing before and after photo — three days before giving birth and three weeks after — and it shows that not everyone "bounces back" right away or in the same way.
In a since-viral post on Instagram, mom Kristen Sullivan shared two photos of herself. On one half of the side-by-side photo, she snapped a selfie of her just before her delivery date. On the other, she snapped a photo of herself three weeks after she gave birth to her son Gavin on July 27.
Sullivan told Romper that she decided to share the photos as a means of supporting other moms, regardless of what their post-baby body looks like:
I support all women and their postpartum journeys, I just think the majority of what's being posted on social media depicts a journey that isn't necessarily the reality for so many women.
It is important to allow your body time to heal after having a baby and know that postpartum doesn't always look like Nikki Reed's toned and flat tummy one month after giving birth. Her caption for the photo expressed much of the same sentiment:
I'm sharing this to show moms that sometimes it doesn't matter if you're thin, ate right and exercised during pregnancy, sometimes your body grows in such a way that simply doesn't allow you to "bounce back" in friggen 3 weeks.
The mother of two went on to explain in her post that the experiences like Reed's, no matter how great they are, are not all that common:
I feel like all I've been seeing is new moms sharing their amazing postpartum bods, 11 days after birth, 2 weeks after birth, etc. And while that's wonderful for them, for many others, KNOW that it's not realistic!
Sullivan told Romper that she "bounced back" quickly with her firstborn, but her body is responding to her second pregnancy differently. For one thing, she is now 35 years old, and her son weighed nearly 9 pounds. She also carried him differently and all of these factors impacted her body.
Another important message within Sullivan's post is need to accept that bodily changes during pregnancy are not always under the mom's control and self-care and motherhood should be of more importance than fitting into skinny jeans again. She told Romper that this was the case for her with her second pregnancy:
I also ate right and exercised throughout the majority of my pregnancy. Women need to know that sometimes you can put in all that work and still not get your pre-baby body back right away, or even at all — and that's okay! Our main focus after giving birth should be to rest, recover (not by "bouncing back"), and nurture our babies.
It took a lot of guts for Sullivan to share her photos, saying in the post that it "took [her] four days to decide whether or not to share this." Fortunately, she told Romper that the feedback to the post has been overwhelmingly positive:
The incredible feedback I received from moms and moms-to-be showed me that clearly this message needed to be shared.
Within her post, Sullivan mentions that she thinks she might have diastasis recti — a condition where postpartum abs separate. She told Romper that this was part of her decision to share her photos:
Shedding some light on diastasis recti has been beneficial for me and for those women who may not have even realized they may have it, too.
Open and honest dialogues about the many shapes and sizes of postpartum bodies is a part of creating a culture of knowledge and understanding for new moms. Kudos to Sullivan for being a part of this important discussion.