When Kimye announced their pregnancy, I have to admit I followed along with a sort of half-interested detachment. Once in a while, I clicked on a link about Kim's pregnancy style (in case you missed it, it included a lot of leather). During her entire pregnancy, though, I'm pretty sure her body was present and accounted for. She was, in fact, using that body to create another human life, so how did she "get it back," and from where? Now, before you chime in and point out the obvious, I get it. She got her "pre-baby body" back. Which was apparently absent while she was pregnant, sitting back counting the days 'till it would spring back unscathed and clothed in a skimpy bikini frolicking under headlines like "How She Lost 50 Pounds in 40 Days."
Pregnant celebrities are fawned over from the first mention of the "over the moon" announcement. "Bump Watches" ensue and photos and stories on their pregnancy style abound, all cute little articles about their cravings and nursery planning that help sell magazines and increase website clicks. I myself have Googled "celebrity pregnancy style" to get some tips on how to stay stylish while pregnant (still not trying out any maternity leather here, though), and I admit I'm a fan of the bump watch, especially when I myself am pregnant.
But once that baby is born, Bump Watch turns immediately into Weight Watch, and the countdown is on to see just how fast celebrities can lose any possible shred of evidence that they grew a human inside of them -- the faster the better. Usually, these articles include tips first and foremost on how to lose the weight, how to exercise post-baby, and some sort of pithy quote like "I lost most of the weight just by breastfeeding," or "Keeping up with my toddler helps me stay in shape." Oh, really? If keeping up with a toddler or breastfeeding was all it took to stay slim, we'd be a bunch of supermodels walking around. I don't know about you, but my toddler isn't going through a three-month series of Cross Fit training, so following him around isn't going to result in anything dramatic physically.
Now that I'm in my fourth pregnancy, I feel like I've had my fair share of "pre- and post-baby body" experiences. Each time so far, with all three children I have had, I gained 50+ pounds, pretty much through eating what I felt like eating and not exercising. I realize that exercise is important during pregnancy, it just is not my thing right now. My excuse (yes, I said EXCUSE, Maria Kang) is that between work, taking care of my kids, volunteering and fitting in the odd episode of "Real Housewives," I don't have much time, nor do I very much have the desire to work out, so I don't. And I am totally unapologetic about that. And that 50+ pounds? Some of that wasn't "baby weight," some of that was just "Jenny Weight," weight I gained because I wanted to have that extra piece of cheesecake or indulged myself. It was just WEIGHT, just pounds, that I put on. Not "baby weight" that was supposed to magically disappear when the seven-pound baby was born.
I also understand that this isn't a loaner body I'm using just for creating this baby; this is my main one, my only one. And although pregnancy is a temporary state, it isn't one that you just pop back out of once the baby is born, fully intact. The fact is, once you have a baby, your body is not going "back" to what it used to be. Dieting and exercise isn't a time machine that will return you and your body back to its previous state. If you think that it is possible to go "back" to your pre-pregnancy body the same as it was before, you might as well expect to go back to how you looked when you were 17. It's not going to happen. And that's OK.
There will be changes no matter what. And that's what this is an opportunity for -- change. Growing. Something new. Not the "loss" of what you had before and the rush to regain it, but the chance to grow into something new, to make a new transition, bringing that old you along for this new ride as a mom. Maybe you will be curvier, maybe you will have bigger boobs, maybe you will be thinner than when you got pregnant. Whatever it is, it's beautiful, and it is you.
Trust me, I know what it feels like to be faced with that first glance of your new body as a mother. I had an emergency c-section with my first, and the sight of myself, especially with this unexpected scar, was completely jarring. I didn't look like myself, I didn't even recognize myself. Because I had a hard time coming to terms with looking so different, I actually just avoided thinking about it, avoided scrutinizing the way I looked. Instead, I tried to focus on just getting into the flow of having a newborn. Into the flow of being a mom. I tried to focus on just having both me and my new baby healthy and comfortable. And truth be told, that was a pretty daunting task in and of itself. I had a hard enough time just getting back onto an even keel without the added stress of needing to lose weight. Showering was a priority; skinny jeans were not.
With all that being said, let's make an effort to embrace all bodies after baby. Wanting to feel comfortable again in your body is important, but everyone will have their own path to their own new comfortable. Some women lose the weight easily and appear to "snap" back to what they used to look like. That's fine, good for them. But having a backlash against this mom is just as bad as judging another mom for not losing any weight gained during a pregnancy. Let's just altogether take the focus off the body, off the weight and off appearances, especially in those first few weeks and months when it should be all about mom and baby, not what size mom's jeans are. Moms like Maria Kang only get as much attention as you give them, and tabloids will only continue to print stories about a celebrity 'Getting her body back' if you buy them.
I have to say some of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen of women have been those taken in a hospital bed (or at home after a home birth), holding their newborns. Usually, the mother wears no makeup; she appears exhausted, yet radiant. These photos are generally taken in those first few magical hours, when mom and baby are in that incredible, glorious, lovely haze, before any glimpses of the "post-baby body" have been seen. Before any pre-pregnancy jeans have been tried on and tossed aside. In that magical moment where your body has done it's job and that is all that matters. It is always so special to see that first picture of the baby, but also special to see the new mother, totally unselfconscious, completely wrapped up in this new life she has just welcomed. Don't diminish that glow by putting outward expectations on it, help keep that glow going by celebrating what is important.