On pressure to lose the baby weight (how much can we blame the media?)

by Kim on July 31, 2013

There’s never a shortage of opinions on this topic across the web, and especially in the blog world. Not surprisingly, the birth of little Prince George has activated a fresh flurry of “lose the baby weight NOW!” media propaganda, which fitness/mom bloggers everywhere have responded to with a resounding, “oh, great.”

Ashley kicked off the discussion by posting this photo on her blog the other day:

Kate(Read the full article here)

Then, Giselle wrote a beautiful follow-up post. And now it’s my turn!

First, I think we need to recognize the context of that particular picture:

–It’s from a modeling website.

–It’s not really for Kate. A journalist’s job is to take current events, find relevance to related topics, and spin off pieces that feed on society’s naturally heightened interest in those topics. In other words, no one is actually suggesting that Kate needs to start some kind of aggressive baby-weight-busting regimen here. We all know that, right?

That said, I agree that it’s never a good idea to suggest, anywhere and in any context, that a new mom should pursue a workout regimen days (or even weeks) after giving birth.

This sensitivity becomes even more important when you take into account that newly postpartum women are living some of the most vulnerable, insecure moments of their lives.

38 wksAt 38 weeks

I can see that there’s heightened pressure for women to “bounce back” quickly after giving birth these days, but I’m not ready to say it’s all the media’s fault. I think it’s much, much more complicated than that.

Before I elaborate, let’s get this celebrity business out of the way. Can’t we all just agree that celebrities aren’t real? (haha)

What I mean by that is: their lifestyles have little or no resemblance to the rest of ours, and their realities, as parents, look nothing like the realities of most parents.

Whenever I see a celebrity looking unnaturally fit (I chose that word for a reason) soon after giving birth, I assume she has a nanny doing the heavy lifting (or all the lifting) at home while she’s in the gym with a trainer 3 hours a day and eating perfectly clean meals prepared by a chef/nutritionist team. And who knows when extreme airbrushing, secret medical interventions, or super unhealthy dramatic measures are involved.

I can’t blame the media for posting pictures of celebrity post-baby bods, because am I interested in seeing them? Uh, yep! I eat those trashy rags up when I’m in line at the grocery store.

Does that mean I become jealous and insecure when I inevitably realize that I don’t look the same? Sure, maybe a little, but there’s always a tradeoff. Even if I could afford an entourage of people to hold my hand post-birth, I’d much rather be chilling with my baby and being extra respectful of my fragile body. The rest can wait.

maseandI2

Now, here are some of the other factors that complicate the whole situation:

Seeing birth as a finish line

Lots of us moms are eager to get back to our pre-baby bodies after giving birth, not because the media is pressuring us, or even because we’re pressuring ourselves. Sometimes, it’s because we’re lost and scared in this new reality of motherhood, we’ve just made it through 40 weeks of dramatic weight gain, and we’ve finally crossed the finish line that we’d been building up in our minds all pregnancy long.

Finally, we don’t have to tiptoe around anymore because we’re pregnant. Finally, we can do something to make ourselves feel better.

Or so we think…until we realize that breastfeeding is basically an extension of pregnancy.

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Craving control

Gaining a lot of weight in a short period of time is a dramatic, scary thing for anyone, especially if you’re used to being in full control of your body.

No matter how many people told me I was beautiful and glowing when I was pregnant, I felt like a complete blob toward the end—and especially after giving birth—and one of the thoughts that got me through it all (besides, of course, the blessing of a beautiful baby) was that, someday, I’d be able to regain that control.

Just wanting to work out

For some women, exercise is a hobby that they’re eager to get back to, not because they want to look bangin’ in a bikini 3 months postpartum, but because it’s a source of happiness and confidence for them. It suggests normalcy. And if there’s ever a time in your life when you desperately want normalcy and a good confidence boost, it’s right after having a baby.

These women shouldn’t be shamed—or revered, for that matter. They’re just navigating the postpartum jungle the way they know how.

So what?

There’s nothing wrong with new moms wanting to lose baby weight. We just have to remember to do it responsibly and respectfully, and to acknowledge that our bodies are different than celebrities’ and friends’ bodies.

Simple, right? (Hint: NO.)

Luckily, there’s a magical thing that happens to a lot of women once they get past those first few postpartum months: they realize that their bodies are no longer that high of a priority. The baby becomes the #1 focus, crowding out so many other less significant things, and they realize they have nothing but massive amounts of pride and respect for their bodies, however they might look.

What do you think of all the media frenzy around Kate’s post baby body?

How much do you think media is to blame for the pressure to “bounce back” after pregnancy in today’s society?

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

weight loss tips July 12, 2014 at 10:12 am

Αppreciate this post. Will try it out.
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Elizabeth August 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I haven’t had much of a peek into the media and Kate’s weight loss, but I love how you said that breastfeeding is an extension of pregnancy. My son was critically dependent on breastfeeding for his first year, so add to that the fact that I did not get to sleep more than 4 hours at a time for the ENTIRE first year, and yeah, breastfeeding was definitely an extension of pregnancy – my weight did not “fall off” just because I was nursing. Actually, it held on because I got no sleep. Anyway, rant aside, new moms face WAY too much pressure to be their perfect pre-pregnancy selves, whether you’re royalty or not. It’s unfair and something that needs to change.
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Kim August 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm

YES, such a good point about weight holding on because of lack of sleep. Such a huge factor.

Realizing that BFing was an extension of pregnancy was a huge wake-up call for me. So glad I’ll be better prepared for that one next time around!

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char eats greens August 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Holy eff, I love this post!!! Gah, you are a gorgeous mom and writer!!! As much as I loved working out during pregnancy, once I was a mom, the weeks were such a blur that you could have told me a month had past, and I wouldn’t have even known. That was also why I didn’t care about working out; time was flying by so clearly it wasn’t even a concern to me! Plus, the whole hanging out with baby won!! I like what you said about the tradeoff, because ya, I could have pumped, had my mom/sister/MIL/husband watch the baby while I cranked it out at the gym for endless hours, but really, I loved my flab stomach and holding my girl so much more!
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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Haha I really love that you said “holy eff,” that pretty much made my day. :)

I was literally just commenting on a blog 5 minutes ago that I still don’t know what month it is! When I’m filling out forms in front of people and I ask for the date, they say something like “the 14th” while I secretly think, “of…what month, again?” Can I still blame the baby when he’s 16 months old? Probably not.

Also, what kind of baby wants to cuddle up to a mom with washboard abs?? No thank you.

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Rachel B @ Busy Mama Fitness August 1, 2013 at 11:31 am

This is an awesome post and it’s one of those supercharged subjects for me. I gained over 100 lb with pregnancy and it was horrifying. Partly because I didn’t know how it happened and the other part because there was nothing I could do to stop it – you can’t diet or up your workout game when you’re pregnant. So after I gave birth to M.T. all I wanted more than anything in the world was to lose that weight but, oh wait. I have 8 weeks to be cleared by a doctor and oh wait. Postpartum, your back and your abs and everything else is a hot mess and don’t forget- there’s also a baby who needs you all day and doesn’t let you sleep at night!

So then, standing in the supermarket line looking at magazines or watching trashy TV and seeing all of these celebs bouncing back from pregnancy *does* add some pressure. Am I jealous of celebrities? No. But as a vulnerable, hormonal, potentially crazy and sleepless woman, my mind doesn’t process that visual information the way a rational woman who SLEEPS does. So of course this ignited a drive and panic to do whatever it took to get the weight off. It *worked* but was it healthy and even emotionally safe? Probably not.

To be honest, looking at the above image I’m actually really happy. not because they’re telling Kate Middleton to burn the baby weight but because they actually printed an honest picture of her postpartum. There was no Kardashian-esque Photoshopping (or maybe there was, who knows?) that postpartum belly is there showing that she is a real woman who didn’t just magically snap back into a size ‘skinny’.
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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm

YES, right on Rachel. (I mean that in the cool modern way, not the outdated 70’s way.) Your story is one of the most powerful ones I’ve ever heard.

You bring up a great, GREAT point that I wish I would have thought of–it’s easy to assess postpartum celebs and recognize the subreality there, WHEN YOU’RE NOT PP YOURSELF. I swear, every single thing about your body and your brain is out of whack after you give birth, and it turns logical thinking and processing into monumental challenges.

Aaand I’ve just talked myself out of having any more kids! Just kidding (I think) – haha :)

P.S. If you’re still looking for blogging ideas, how about a follow-up to all this? You have awesome input!!

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Jenny August 1, 2013 at 10:23 am

Beautiful <3

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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Thanks dear :)

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Jade August 1, 2013 at 9:38 am

Beautifully written! I definitely have the case of jealousy and comparison, but I have to shake my head a realize my ‘story’ is different than my neighbors, different than Kates, different than everyone. I do think we live in a world that gives you this unrealistic expectation so that when you do have your first kid you (well I was) shocked when things didn’t line up and it has taken well over a year to get back to where I was. I do see a big correlation between that added pressure of losing all the weight and addition to post partum depression/anxiety besides the lack of sleep and new baby adding to all of that.

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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I was pretty shocked too! I remember thinking the whole “wait 6 weeks to exercise” rule must have been an overly safe precaution–uh, yeah, I was still recovering 6 MONTHS later, and my exercise habits still don’t look the same today as they did pre-baby.

There were many, many times I had to remind myself that women doing amazing things and looking like they were never pregnant soon after birth just weren’t facing the same realities I was. But I also knew there were plenty of moms out there with much more monumental challenges than mine. There’s just no room for comparison in pregnancy.

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Katie @ running4cupcakes August 1, 2013 at 9:36 am

Kim, I love this post! I totally agree with you that the birth is not the finish line. And I have been so pleased that I have a much better body image after having a baby than I ever did before and it has a lot to do with shifting priorities to my new guy. ;) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I’m so glad to hear another mom say she has an even better body image post-baby! So awesome!

And yeah, the finish line thing was a huge lesson learned for me…all I thought about while I was pregnant was making it through that birth, thinking I’d then be home free. Too bad that finish line is also a starting line. I’ll definitely be adjusting my expectations next time!

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Suzanne @ Mixing It Up August 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

I honestly never felt compelled to lose weight as quickly as celebrities after I had my babies. I mean, I absolutely wanted to get back to “normal” but I knew doing so in record time was not going to happen for me, that just wasn’t my reality.

As much crap as celebrities get, I think we often forget that their bodies are very much tied to their jobs so losing the weight quickly is a necessity. It doesn’t mean they love their kids any less, it just means they want/need to WORK.

I hope more woman will just start being proud of what they accomplished(birthing a human being!!!) and know that flat tummy or not, they are truly beautiful because in their childs eyes….I guarantee they are!!
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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Yes, yes, and yes–all perfectly said! There are a lot of things I’d enjoy that just aren’t my reality. All we can do is work with what we’ve got!

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Elizabeth @ My Neon Running Shoes August 1, 2013 at 6:26 am

I found your blog through Ashley’s! Such a great post Kim!!! Thank you!
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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth!! Heading over to your blog! :)

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Michelle @ Nice Lil Saturday July 31, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I’m glad someone is finally writing about this. It was interesting to see the media’s take on Kate’s post-birth bump and how they all commended her for showing it off…um, EVERY woman has this appearance post birth and this is natural… I agree with you that celebrities can put out a false image of what a woman’s body should look like post-birth, and I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t have some effect on pregnant women, even me! Do I want to be back to be pre-baby weight shortly after giving birth, YES, but realistically, I know that it is going to take a lot of time as I cherish the moments I have with my newborn and being respectful of my recovery.
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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I know, it’s weird how the media is going nuts about her bump. What did they think they were going to see? Apparently it’s common practice for celebs to sneak in a post-birth tummy tuck…news to me!

Some people will blast you for saying anything about your weight while you’re pregnant, or shortly after. But it’s totally normal to struggle with this, and totally normal to want to lose the weight as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the miracle that’s happening in our bodies. We can’t all run around pretending we love every pound and the world is made of rainbows, you know? :) It’s tough, and women need a lot of support to get through it! Hang in there, momma!

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Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome July 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Great post Kim! I especially love the line, “We just have to remember to do it responsibly and respectfully, and to acknowledge that our bodies are different than celebrities’ and friends’ bodies.” So true! Also that it’s not as easy as it should be. For some reason no matter how hard I personally try not to compare it always happens!
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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Exactly! I don’t think it’s realistic to expect ourselves to NEVER compare–the trick is to learn how to acknowledge that your comparison is unfounded or irrelevant, and move past it before it gets too ingrained in your mind.

I absolutely loved your post on this too! So refreshing seeing all those images of celebs who weren’t afraid to just be REAL moms.

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Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries July 31, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I’m shouting from the rooftops over here… YES! YES! YES! All SO well said. Love love love this post.
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Kim August 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Thanks Ashley! And thanks for kicking off the discussion!

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