How One Mom Is Changing Postpartum Body Expectations
There’s a stubborn myth floating around that once a woman delivers a baby, her abdomen deflates back to the size it was before she became pregnant, kind of like a tire that’s had the air let out of it. Also included in that belief is that the skin that used to cover her bump should be tight and unblemished as well.
But as just about every woman who has ever birthed a baby knows, that’s not exactly the case. And the difference between this ideal postpartum belly and the flabby, poochy reality can cause the body confidence and self-image of many new moms to plunge.
Now, one nutritionist and mom who struggled with body confidence issues when she had her two sons wants to eradicate the whole flat-postpartum stomach myth forever.
Julie Bhosale, from New Zealand, launched “My Post-Partum Body” on her blog after the birth of her second son on January 17. By taking daily, unretouched selfies and wearing a sports bra or cropped T-shirt, she’s documented the size and shape of her own post-delivery stomach. Her goal is to show other women that pooch is perfectly normal.
Bhosale wrote on her blog, “For most of us, our bodies change, and change a lot. It is scary, it is hard, it can be downright disgusting and upsetting but it is real and normal. Although I am a qualified health professional I am also a mother, and my body has also not just ‘bounced back.’”
Bhosale poses with her newborn son in each photo, so readers can see over time how fast he’s grown, and how long it takes for the typical woman’s abdomen to get smaller — but not necessarily return to what it looked like pre-pregnancy.
“You can feel so isolated and self-involved at this stage when everything seems to be a struggle, so it’s great to be reminded that you’re not alone, that what you’re experiencing is normal and that it will get better,” Bhosale told Huffington Post UK.
The enthusiastic response Bhosale’s photos have received doesn’t surprise nutritionists who work with new moms bent on losing their pregnancy pounds. “I see clients who want to lose baby weight but don’t realize how much work they need to put in to do it,” Maggie Moon, Los Angeles–based nutritionist and owner of Everyday Healthy Eating, tells Yahoo Parenting.
“It doesn’t help that we glorify celebrity physiques that seem to bounce back after giving birth,” says Moon. “But people only see the before and after picture, with no evidence that it was real hard work and that progress came over time. Also, celebrity body changes are sometimes achieved through extreme measures that are unrealistic for most people.”
Sharing post-baby photos can be hugely supportive for other moms. “I think it brings a sense of community to women who are sharing an experience,” says Moon. “Normalizing the real changes that happen to a woman’s body after pregnancy can be very encouraging for a new mom who may feel alone in her struggles.”