Back Off Postpartum Moms And Their Bodies

by Vicki Cockerill
Originally Published: 
A collage of two photos depicting Vicki Cockerill during her pregnancy and postpartum
Vicki Cockerill

Dear World,

Let me introduce you to the postpartum body.

Here it is, in all its glory, a glimpse into what a postpartum body really looks like.

See, I am here to dispel a few myths:

You will not “snap back into shape” or be back in your “skinny” jeans a week after giving birth. We are force-fed headlines of celebs “bouncing back” every day, so we believe we should/will too. When we don’t, we feel like failures.

We didn’t know what our bodies would look like after birth. We were in the limbo of trying to “get it back” while realizing it was not quite the same as what it was before.

We were not prepared to find our stomach didn’t instantly go down, our boobs would leak everywhere, and our vagina would look like a car crashed into it. We have been made to feel ashamed of these things — ashamed of the body that grew and gave birth to a human.

We are not taught to accept and embrace our postpartum body. Instead, we are encouraged to change it as quickly as possible. Everyone tells us: “It will be okay. You will lose the baby weight” or “Have you tried this diet? This exercise plan? Have you seen this celeb? She looks great after two weeks!”

We are constantly told we need to change. That what we are right now isn’t good enough. We are vulnerable, probably the most vulnerable we have ever been or will ever be, and we are being bombarded with having to change when, really, all we want to do is sit on the sofa eating snacks.

We are made to feel bad about all of this. Why?

Surely, we have earned the right to just be for a while? What if I don’t want to race to lose my extra weight?

There will come a time I may look at myself and not be happy with what I see. I may want to change, but it will be because I want to — not because that along with my endless to-do list of feeding a newborn, surviving on no sleep, and riding the hormonal waves, society dictates that I’m also supposed to suddenly transform into Beyoncé overnight too.

There is so much pressure put on us to change ourselves the minute after we give birth. The last thing we need right now is unrealistic expectations of what we “should” look like.

We should look like however the hell we want, and this should be okay with everyone because it is okay with us. After all, we just grew and expelled a human, and we are currently keeping it alive 24 hours a day on little to no sleep. Can you cut us some slack.

So world, back off the postpartum mother. What you see is real life. Not a ridiculous facade. Leave us alone.

– From a very tired mom of two

Vicki Cockerill

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