AN OPEN LETTER TO NEW MOTHERS ABOUT YOUR NEW BODY
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
Dear New Mama,
I know you’re tired and haven’t gotten a proper night’s sleep in weeks. You wake up every three hours, if you’re lucky, to nurse and tend to your precious baby. You feel overwhelmed and a little scared of what you may have gotten yourself into. You feel like a different person now. You don’t have nearly as much energy as you used to. You feel like the world is continuing on without you while you stand still in the newborn phase that you think will last forever. And your body has changed too. You don’t fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans anymore because your hips are too wide. Your cute sports bras will never fit you again because you’ve grown quite a few sizes since getting pregnant. And your belly… You don’t like to look at yourself in the mirror sometimes, because your belly is not what it used to be and you don’t know if it will ever be. It’s flabby and adorned with some stretch marks that you tried so desperately to prevent. But there they are.
You scroll through social media at 3AM to keep yourself awake while feeding the baby. You’ve followed a few influencer moms since becoming pregnant to get some insight into motherhood. But as you scroll, you see yet another “6 days postpartum” selfie. Her belly is flat and she looks like she’s never had a baby in her life, let alone 6 days ago. She posts the picture to show how “incredible" the female body is. But you look down at your belly and wonder if you’re just as incredible. She says she’s not posting it for attention, but all her comments say things along the lines of “MILF” and “hot mama.” You want to be happy for her, but you can’t. You think it’s unfair how her body has bounced back so quickly and yours hasn’t and may never. You wish you felt as confident as this mother. You wish you had as much energy as her to put on makeup and take a selfie. Most of your recent pictures on your phone are only of your baby, not your baby and you. You hide behind the camera, because getting ready is just too much of a chore. You don’t know how she does it.
But I’m here to tell you, you’re amazing no matter what your body looks like. Those stretch marks are a testament to your body’s amazing ability to accommodate and grow a whole other human being. Your flabby tummy used to be the safe and warm place your baby called home. I wish I could tell you your belly will go back to normal, but I can’t. With time and some exercise, it might. But if it doesn’t, that’s okay. Your baby is going to love you no matter what. Trust me when I tell you this, babies prefer comfortable bodies to sleep on. I promise, your extra padding will come in handy.
I don’t know why it happens like this. Why some girls bounce back and some don’t. Maybe it’s genetics. Or maybe it’s the breastfeeding. Some women tend to lose weight while breastfeeding and some end up gaining weight. It could also be the birth control. There are so many factors that affect us all so differently, so be gentle with yourself. You don’t have to look like a social media influencer to be a good mom. You trying is you being a good mom. So instead of of being hard on yourself, applaud yourself for birthing a new life. Pregnancy and childbirth is not an easy feat. It will change you forever, both emotionally and physically, so embrace the changes. You are now a mom!
And I know you’ve heard this before, but I’ll tell you this again. Comparison is the thief of joy. Social media makes it extremely easy for us to compare ourselves in every aspect of our life. It is truly draining and sometimes brings us more grief than entertainment. What you see on social media is just a snippet of a person’s life highlighting the most fantastic parts. But in reality, we all struggle. That mom with the flat belly, she’s having trouble breastfeeding and is constantly down on herself about it. That mom who’s already sporting a bikini 3 months postpartum, she’s constantly exhausted because her baby won’t sleep more than two hours at a time. There’s so much more going on behind the bright-filtered photos we see online. So do yourself a favor, and give the social media a break for a little bit. Read a good e-book or news article while feeding your little one. And when you decide to get back to social media, remember what you’ve accomplished and that you’re just as amazing. A flat belly isn’t everything. A full heart is everything.
A Fellow Flabby Mama