This was first posted on my Instagram account. If you want a sneak peak into my daily life, come follow me.
It took me at least a month to work up the courage to post this postpartum belly photo and these words. Vanity and vulnerability are real things and I struggle with them just like everyone else. But I think it’s more important that mamas embrace their bodies and stop comparing themselves to everyone else. So here we go.
I gave birth 17 weeks ago. This is my tummy right now. It looks the same as it did when I was 14 weeks pregnant.
Sometimes I wake up with a flat belly and sometimes I don’t. At the end of the day it’s usually gotten bigger. I have a prolapse that occurred with the birth of my first baby and was made worse with the second babe four months ago. As my pelvic floor fatigues during the day and the prolapse becomes more prominent, my belly loosens and gets bigger as well.
Yes I workout and yes I eat well. I have a healthy lifestyle and can’t blame lack of exercise or ice cream for my tummy.
THIS is a normal postpartum belly.
Nine out of ten women will be dealing with THIS for at least a year after birth. Unfortunately, nine out of ten post baby selfies we see on social media are of the few completely flat bellies. So what we see is not indicative of the reality for most of us, and yet we think it’s what we should be reaching for. It’s a dangerous comparison game to play.
You carried a baby for 40 weeks. Your body stretched and grew, both on the inside and outside. Your internal organs moved and shifted to make room for a growing baby. Then you labored and pushed or had a surgical procedure to get that beautiful baby out into the world. You dealt with contractions and pain and needles and stitches and sweating and lots of bleeding.
Then you ask your body to do a 360 within two months and be back to where it was before becoming pregnant?
All of our organs are settling back to their normal places and relationships to the other organs. Your uterus has to contract back to it’s normal size. If you are nursing then your hormones are still going wild and making your ligaments and joints extra loose. You are standing and rocking and carrying a crying baby even though everyone says you should rest. You are hunched over with poor posture trying to feed. You are getting spit up on, hair pulled, running after your older kids and trying your best to do the pelvic floor exercises you know you should so you don’t pee when you sneeze.
You are simply hanging on for dear life while, at the same time, soaking in every ounce of this new life you created.
This soft postpartum belly is completely normal and is a part of this season in life.
Of course we want our flat bellies back. It’s completely normal to want to fit into our regular clothes and feel a sense of ownership over our bodies again. But comparing ourselves to others – especially in the non-realistic world of social media – is counter productive and not helpful to our overall healing.
Will my belly ever go back to it’s pre-baby state? Maybe yes and maybe no. I listen to my body, workout because it’s my sanity and follow the guidelines in place to keep my pelvic floor and abdominal muscles healthy and strong. And I snuggle my baby as much as humanly possible. Doing anything more than that right now isn’t good for either my mental or physical health.
Most of all, I remember what my body did 17 weeks ago. When I do I smile and whisper “great job, I’m so proud of you.”