While browsing Facebook, I recently came across an article titled “15 Annoying Things About Women Who Bounce Back.” The article had been posted by a popular pregnancy and baby website, and poked fun at women who had “easy” pregnancies and/or quickly regained their pre-baby bodies. Although meant to jokingly bolster women struggling to accept their postpartum bodies, it left a sour taste in my mouth. Reading the comments, it was clear I wasn’t the only one.
I am one of the women who “bounced back.” My son is 5 months old, and I weigh less now than I did before getting pregnant. I fit in what were once my skinny jeans. I did not have an easy pregnancy as the article implied. I struggled to gain weight throughout my pregnancy, drinking Boost shakes three times a day in an effort to maintain a healthy weight. My baby was labeled as IUGR, and I was put on bed rest for the last 6 weeks I carried him. Every day I felt guilty that my body wasn’t the environment he needed to thrive.
My struggles didn’t end after giving birth. I was ridiculously sick postpartum, and spent the first three weeks hunched over a toilet. I couldn’t eat without throwing up, so the pounds melted off. I didn’t “breastfeed the weight away.” In addition to losing weight, I also lost my milk supply. Once again, I felt as if my body failed my baby.
Today my son and I are both healthy. He is well-loved and cared for. I spend every free minute I have cuddling and playing with him. We read books and go for walks, snuggle on the couch, and sometimes stay in our jammies on the weekend. I don’t spend ridiculous amounts of time in the gym (another claim made about women who bounce back). In fact, I don’t spend any time in the gym. Fitting in my skinny jeans is nice, but my appearance isn’t a priority.
To those who think it is acceptable to ridicule a woman for being skinny after baby, what if the tables were turned? What if the article was titled “15 Annoying Things About Women Who Can’t Lose the Baby Weight?” There would be an uproar.
Mom shaming, and shaming in general, has risen to the forefront of our social media age. Advances in technology have made it possible to say hurtful things while hiding behind a computer screen. What we should be doing is lifting each other up. Giving birth is an incredible feat. Every mom’s body is beautiful; look at the miracle it is capable of!
Being a mom is hard. It is the most challenging job many of us will ever have. We need sources we can turn to for guidance and support, without worrying that we are being judged. Skinny or carrying a few extra pounds, breast feeding or bottle feeding, we are all doing the best we can with what we have. We teach our children the Golden Rule, now we need to live it. Let’s stop shaming, for any reason, and become positive role models instead.