Post-baby body shaming: what many mums are enduring
Body shaming mothers after the birth of their baby and a continued amount of time afterwards – not something I ever thought I would be writing about but having seen a number of things of social media recently, this is clearly quite an issue. The definition of body shaming is the practice of making critical, potentially humiliating comments about a person’s body size or weight.
Of course this can happen and does happen at every stage in life, children endure this, sometimes at school, sometimes from a relative and sometimes even from total strangers. Teens are exposed to this, as are adults at every stage in life. My view is that all of this behaviour towards people irrespective of their stage in life is hideous, but, body shaming mothers, in direct response to how pregnancy has changed their bodies – utterly despicable.
Women are already in a vulnerable place after having a baby and it doesn’t take much for us to feel utterly sh*t about ourselves. A study from parenting site ChannelMum.com found the average new mum spends £1,871 attempting to get her pre-pregnancy figure back – but almost three quarters (72%) don’t achieve it and are far less body confident after giving birth.
Becoming a mummy can create some tricky feelings. It can have a huge effect on how you feel about your body, largely because your body goes through so many changes in such a short space of time.
Motherhood is characterised by a daily mix of emotions, so how we feel about our bodies is not going to be any different. When I am not marvelling over the miracle of my four babies, I can be found hating myself for the saggy, wobbly, and fat bits that are still present. I’m skilled at doing this to myself, I really don’t need any comments from others and neither does any other mother.
When the day comes when you hold your baby in your arms, that is the best ever and one you will never forget. Then you stand in the shower after the birth, looking down at the carnage that has just been inflicted on your body and you think “will it ever all go back to normal?” – Then, you stop, you stop hating your body because that body just did a great job and gave birth to a baby and that is an amazing thing. So you pat yourself on the back and do a little skip.
You ignore the wobbly, saggy bits for a few days until you catch yourself in the mirror and again think “will it ever go back to normal?” – then your milk arrives and you suddenly have these enormous breasts to contend with as well. You look completely different and you feel completely different and how could anyone love you looking like this?
This continues for a long time for some people, me included. For me, motherhood has changed my body dramatically four times over. There are inevitably emotions attached to these changes and these tend to fall into two categories for me:
- The fat suit: my body is hideous, it doesn’t resemble anything I remember from before I had children, I don’t feel like myself, nothing fits and I feel as if I am wearing one of those sumo suits. I hate my body and I want to unzip the suit and climb out.
- The giver of life: my body grew four tiny humans inside it, it pushed those four tiny humans into this world and then provided over 10,000 meals for them – my body is awesome!
Of course, all of these feelings are very normal and unless you really are Wonder Women and look the same, if not better all over after babies, then these are feelings, that so many of use share at to be expected to a degree.
The problem comes when you add to this the damning comments of others.
The most common PBB body shaming insults are:
- You still look pregnant (31% of mums have been told this)
- Your body shape has changed a lot (28%)
- You need to exercise (28%)
- I thought breastfeeding made you lose weight (24%)
- You need to stop eating for two (23%)
- Hurry up and lose weight or your partner will go off you (12%)
Can you quite believe this? As if any busy mummy doing her very best every day needs this sort of sh*t. These comments are coming from extended family members, ‘friends’, random people we all meet day-to-day and would you believe it partners!
I really hope that none of you mummies reading this have been subjected to these comments, but given the stats, I sincerely doubt it.