I've been seeing a lot of posts and articles lately about how to prevent stretch marks. How to make them disappear postpartum. How to get your pre-baby body back. How to hide/cover your c-section scar. How to make your body look the body of a 22 year old woman who's never experienced life. I have to tell you, I'm honestly sick of people implying (or outright saying) that mom bodies are less than.
Here's the thing that society/the media seems to forget: Making a human being is hard and should be celebrated. All those articles and photos showing off celebrity moms who got their pre-baby bodies back in a month are bullshit. Because they're celebrities who have trainers, nannies, nutritionists, and a million other specialists who make it possible for these women to spend 10 hours a day working to "fix" their bodies and get them back to the way the media thinks they should be. I commend them for their efforts, and I pity them that they feel obligated to do it.
You can Google the phrase "pre baby body" and get literally thousands of articles promising to magically get your body back. "Eat this. Don't eat that. Drink this. Get plenty of sleep." That last one always makes me laugh. Seriously? I just had a baby. I'd love to sleep, but I'm a freaking dairy factory right now. I sleep when I can. Don't even get me started on those that say "sleep when the baby sleeps." Spoiler: I think those articles must be written by pompous men or people who have never had kids.
Google "Mommy makeover" and you'll find at least 10 million links and ads for cosmetic surgery. Lipo, tummy tuck, breast lift and/or reduction. So you can look like you didn't just spend 40-ish weeks creating a human being. Pass.
Pregnancy was miserable for me and I have no intention of ever to do it again. However, I have absolutely no desire to erase those experiences from my body. I have scars, stretch marks, rolls, and saggy boobs. My body definitely looks different today than it did 4 years ago, and guess what? I love it. Now, I realize this might seem at odds with my fitness journey, so let me explain. I love seeing evidence that my body create life. I love knowing that they came from me and seeing the proof of the process on my skin. That doesn't mean that I'm happy with how much of me there currently is, but I'm not going to get surgery or some magical cure-all to erase the history that my body has created and lived through.
There's the other camp that says "Be happy you have your stretch marks. There are women out there who would kill to be pregnant and scar/stretch their bodies." Yes, that's true, but it isn't going to magically make a self-conscious mom suddenly love her squishy, marked body. It's about as effective as telling your kid to eat all their dinner because "there are starving kids in Africa." How does me eating all of my dinner have anything to do with a starving kid halfway around the world? Yes, it's terrible that they are without food, but is stuffing my face going to help them? How is my happiness or unhappiness with my post-baby bod going to help a woman struggling with infertility? I'll tell you, it doesn't. Saying stuff like that just makes a self-conscious mommy feel guilty on top of being self-conscious.
Now, I realize that I might be talking in circles, or contradicting myself, so let me put this as clearly and simply as I can: Your body did an amazing thing and you should be proud of that fact. Just like your life has been forever changed by the existence of your kids, so has your body. Expecting to go back to how it was before is unreasonable and unrealistic.
If you want to change your appearance, do it, but do it for yourself. Don't do it because your favorite celeb "bounced back" to her pre-baby shape after just 30 days. That's not a realistic goal, and chances are good that she had a plethora of well paid help to get that way. Hell, I've heard of fancy, expensive doctors suggesting the "mommy makeover" while you're already open for your c-section. Wtf?
Feel however you want about your body, it's yours and you're the one living in it, but know that I think you are an amazing human being. You created life. That is a feat worthy of praise and respect. Own your body. Love your body. Be confident. If you don't like something, put in the effort to change it, but do it for yourself, not to meet some outlandish standard creating by society/the media.
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Writer and Contributor for the Motherhood Community