Birth is incredible. No matter how it happens. And every single woman who brings a new life into the world is incredible too. But our society is denying our women the right to embrace and celebrate this by creating the idea that we should be hiding what our bodies have done. It is about time women stood up. It’s about time we tell society how shit is going down. And most importantly, it’s about time we talk and support each other in loving the postpartum period in all its glory. We are the change.
When a woman carries and births a baby, her body changes significantly – and often beyond her control. Women seemingly struggle with this idea, the idea that they can’t have ‘control’ over how their body is changing while it sustains life. I mean, it’s not surprising considering we are being sold products and plans to control it left right and centre. Stretch mark creams, fitness guides to minimise weight gain in pregnancy, tummy tucks – the list could go on. Let me ask you this, have you ever thought that all these things are contributing to the suppression of women? By telling us to conceal the effects of the process of creating life…we’re being told that that very process is not worthy of gratification.
With all the commercial giants selling us these ideas…we have created this ‘bounce back’ culture. While I was pregnant, I got told numerous times that I would ‘bounce back’ quickly because I am young and fit. Just with that very phrase, I was made to feel anxious about meeting those standards…about how I supposedly had to cover up what my body had just done as soon as I entered the postpartum period. An idea that again, was perpetuated in the weeks after I gave birth as people consistently made comments on how I was ‘shrinking’ etc…almost as though they were praising me for ‘bouncing back’ to my pre-pregnancy self. This is suppression of women, by women – and most of us don’t even know we’re doing it.
The truth is, I didn’t (and still don’t) want my pre-baby body back. I’ve just done something incredible…I’ve grown and birthed my beautiful baby – and I want everything that has changed about my body to stay. All the stretch marks I have on my stomach (trust me there is a lot of them!) show where my boy once lived…where I sustained his life with my body. All the extra weight my body now carries shows how my body adapted and expanded.
As women, we need to take OWNERSHIP of the postpartum period. It is ours, it is unique to everyone. We need to discuss the realness of our transitions into motherhood. We need to be brave in showing the world the realities and beauty of our postpartum bodies, to normalise diversity within motherhood.
As a society, we need to stop placing unobtainable expectations on our women. We need to allow women the space and the freedom to experience pregnancy, birth and motherhood in all its chaotic glory. We need to be supporting our women to embrace the uniqueness of their postpartum bodies, without passing comments on how they should be ‘bouncing back’ to cover it up.
This is postpartum, it is a huge transition that is confusing and beautiful all at once. It has the capacity to be a powerful and freeing experience. But we must change the culture we have created around it. And that change starts here, with you.
My names Georgia, I am an 18-year-old first- time mamma to Arlo! I am a competitive Powerlifter and aspiring Sports Scientist. I'm incredibly passionate about talking all things pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I have my own blog, youngmama.com, where I regularly discuss these topics and aim to help women build confidence and embrace motherhood.