I had a flat belly like yours until I had you.
No, I wasn’t born with stretch marks. You gave them to me.
I used to be skinny too, but the baby weight never came off.
Oh, and that surgery I had to lift my bladder and tighten up my vagina so I didn’t leak pee all over the place—all your fault.
Okay, so maybe those weren’t Mom’s exact words, but that’s what I remember from growing up. The take home message was “Enjoy your hot, toned, young bod now, because as soon as you have a baby, Bye Bye Body.”
And it wasn’t just my mom. Aunties, my sister, and friends with babies echoed the same kind of comments. And as an OB/GYN physician, I had personally witnessed the worst scars pregnancy can leave on a body (I’ll spare you the details.)
Wowsers. It’s enough to make a sexy, svelte wanna-be mother buckle up her chastity belt and ditch dreams of mommyhood for good.
Body After Baby & Mommyrexia
The media doesn’t help. As if we don’t get enough flack from our mothers, aunties, sisters, and friends, we’ve got the media blasting us with “Body After Baby” articles all over People magazine. Heidi, Katie, Angelina, and Victoria are back in their skinny jeans two weeks postpartum and flaunting their bikini bodies six weeks out. I mean seriously, people.
As if that’s not enough pressure, now we have the Mommyrexia trend to contend with. All these celebrities who gain only 10 pounds during their pregnancy and don’t even look pregnant from behind are rubbing off on mothers who are ignoring the advice to gain 25-30 healthy pounds, leading to underweight babies and dangerous pregnancies.
And why? So we can get back in our skinny jeans and strut around in bikinis when our milk just came in?
As both an OB/GYN and a mother, I call “BULLSHIT!”
First off, most women don’t have nannies, personal trainers, in-house chefs, and plastic surgeons at their beck and call to give them a little quickie nip and tuck before their next photo shoot. Plus, most mommies have better things to do with their time than spend all day at the gym. There are parks to visit, strollers to push through the zoo, and breastfeeding snuggles. And oh…uh…for many of us, just trying to pump and transition the baby from the boob to a bottle so Mommy can make it back to work six weeks later is a full time job. The last thing we need to add to our already overburdened To Do lists is “Attain perfect figure in time for postpartum check up.” Not to mention the damaging message that lies at the core of such behavior- you’re not valuable unless you’re skinny, young, and toned.
Making Peace With My Body
At 35, I finally managed to silence the voice of my mother enough to conceive and give birth. Then, after my C-section, I breast-fed and waited for the pounds to just melt off. Only they didn’t. I always told my patients “Nine months on, nine months off.” But after gaining 30 pounds during my pregnancy, 15 of them melted away and the other 15 stayed put right where my waist used to be, even nine months later. And although I managed to miss the stretch mark bullet, the varicose veins that course all the way down my left leg from my groin to my ankle pretty much ensure that anyone seeing me in a skirt can tell I am a mother. And I won’t even start on my boobs…