Our society sets high expectations for new mothers, especially when it comes to ‘bouncing back’ to their pre-pregnancy weight. Here’s why it doesn’t make sense.
The majority of ads targeted toward new mothers seem to scream one central message: “LOSE WEIGHT AFTER BABY, and LOSE IT FAST!”.
In fact, there is always some kind of gimmick or fad diet pushed on new mothers during one of the most vulnerable phases of their lives, declaring that their body is broken, inadequate and unwanted until they’re able to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight.
Wait one second. Let’s backtrack here.
Do you realize exactly what your body has gone through in the past several months? Your body grew a human being, and then birthed that human being into the world. That alone is nothing short of miraculous. To top it all off, your body is nurturing and caring for a baby even after your body has gone through pregnancy.
Just in case you need some extra proof as to how incredible your body is, here are some reminders of the amazing things it does during pregnancy and postpartum:
- Your blood volume increases by up to 50% to support your growing baby
- You grow a whole new organ, i.e. the placenta – to provide oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby
- Your body prepares for breastfeeding by storing fat and increasing breast tissue during pregnancy
- Your uterus will expand to almost 500 times its pre-pregnancy size in order to accommodate your baby’s growth
- Your body will produce more estrogen during one pregnancy than throughout your entire life when not pregnant, which enables the uterus and placenta to support your developing baby
- Your breasts will produce colostrum during pregnancy, which is just what your baby needs right after birth. It’s nutrient dense and packed with essential antibodies to protect your baby against viruses and bacteria.
There is so much going on within your body to navigate pregnancy and to ultimately, help you bring a healthy baby into the world. A woman’s body is working incredibly hard through the transformative process of pregnancy, over months at a time to successfully grow this precious, tiny human.
In light of all of this, who is anyone to shame a woman about her body or weight after pregnancy and childbirth?
And yet, this is what the multi-billion dollar dieting industry is doing every single day to vulnerable women who may be feeling uncertain about their own bodies and the changes they have recently experienced. Women face exceeding pressure in the postpartum period to quickly lose weight and return to their pre-pregnancy body, which ultimately is preventing mothers from truly thriving in motherhood.
If it took your body 9 months to grow a precious human being, won’t it take that much time or longer for your body to heal and recover?
The postpartum period should be viewed as a time to be restored and strengthened, physically and mentally, and going on any type of diet would only prevent a mother from truly recovering from the taxing process of childbirth.
Yes, your body has changed, and rightfully so to accommodate your growing baby. But forcing your body to prematurely lose weight in the postpartum phase through rigid extremes is harmful and punishing. Your body deserves to be cherished and honored, especially after all you have gone through to bring your baby into the world.
Trust in yourself that you will reach the weight that is best for you in the postpartum period and after childbirth. When you’re not obsessing about every calorie or exercising to exhaustion, when you eat to fuel your lifestyle, nourish your motherhood, and exercise with movement that allows you to feel strong –
This is when you know you have reached a weight that is ideal for you.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: JULIE JOHNSON
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a San Diego-based private practice dietitian helping others embrace their health for themselves and their loved ones. Focusing on maternal/child health and eating disorders, Crystal creates the nurturing, safe environment that is needed to help guide individuals towards a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.