Moms, Are You Struggling With This? You’re Not Alone

Having a baby – no matter how many times you’ve been through it – changes a woman’s body and soul.

Each child opens a new chapter in our lives, bringing new experiences, opportunities, and more joy than we think our hearts can handle sometimes.

Sadly, though, many new moms are experiencing “overwhelming pressure” and “excruciating suffering” over one topic.

Those are the words of a long-time nutritionist and therapist who is warning women about dangerous consequences that can arise for women postpartum.

More often than not, women are unhappy with the physical changes that occur to our bodies following pregnancy.

This can range from low self-esteem to being overly fixated on appearance – for example, the age-old measure of “success” in being able to fit in those pre-pregnancy jeans.

But for some women, the feelings of not being able to bounce back are causing serious problems, including severe depression and eating disorders.

And therapist, Kyla Fox, is sounding the alarm.

In a piece written for Today’s Parent, Fox – founder of an eating disorder recovery center, counselor, speaker, writer, and mom of two – is concerned about how much pressure women are putting on themselves to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back.

Not only is that goal hard to attain due to permanent changes to our bodies, but Fox questions why women would even want those old bodies back.

Why must women eradicate motherhood from our bodies, as though it’s dirty or shameful?” asks Fox.

She has seen women in her practice of more than 10 years putting such intense pressure on themselves that they can become disconnected from their family, exercise to the point of harming themselves, or they bring on the onset of an eating disorder.

In fact, the MGH Center states that “Eating disorders are highly prevalent…more so in women, appearing to peak during the childbearing years.”

Some women who develop an eating disorder postpartum may have struggled with one when they were younger, but studies are showing that more and more women are developing dangerous nutrition and exercise habits following pregnancy.

In fact, if a woman previously overcame an eating disorder in her youth, she is much more likely to relapse in the postpartum period.

Part of this high rate is attributed to underlying mental health factors, but many women without a history turn to extremes to “get their bodies back.”

Sure, we all want to feel good about ourselves.  We often feel that if we don’t get our thinner, more fit bodies back that we are somehow failing at being a strong woman.

We feel judged by others as being “lazy” or “unmotivated.”  But we are almost always putting this pressure on ourselves.

Unlike athletes whose scars are honored, women are told to cover up signs of motherhood as though they are offensive,” Fox remarks.

Apart from an unattainable standard presented in the media – by women who have money, nannies, chefs, and trainers – there is usually no one making us feel imperfect but ourselves.

Kyla Fox has noticed this phenomena time and time again.  Where is this internal struggle coming from if not from outside influences?

Well, the answer is that we sometimes lament who we used to be before having kids instead of celebrating the miracle of how motherhood changes us.

“…We do it all to identify with being the women we once were, in the bodies we once had, doing the things we once did,” says Fox.

But would any of us dare trade our precious children to look like we used to or to have more time to do the activities we once loved?

Absolutely not.  We would give anything in the world – our very lives – for our children.  We were created for this purpose, and it is miraculous that our bodies can create perfect little human beings!

When we think about who we “used to be,” would any of us really want to be that person again?

Kyla Fox put it best when she said, “Perhaps if we spent more time celebrating the women, and the incredible bodies that led to motherhood, we would be less inclined to celebrate them vanishing. Perhaps we could love those bodies. Perhaps we could even call them beautiful—now and always,” as reported by Today.

If you are a mom who is struggling with your self-esteem and thinking of taking drastic measures to regain your pre-baby body, remember that beautiful life that you grew inside of you.

Every stretch mark, every bit of sagging skin, those widening hips – these are all “battle scars” that we should celebrate instead of despise.

Our children’s health depends on our own.  Drastic diets, extreme exercise, and low self-esteem can impact our ability to be our true best selves.

And mothers who constantly diet to extremes can inhibit their milk production when breastfeeding, become sick more frequently,  and send negative messages to their children about healthy habits — inflicting a lifetime of doubt on their own children in regard to self-image, especially on daughters.

If you feel “overwhelming pressure” to look like you did before pregnancy, especially if you are going to extremes to attain that goal, talk to your healthcare professional.

And if, like many of us, you are just lamenting the fact that you may never fit in those jeans again, celebrate your body’s changes as a badge of honor!

We are with you, mammas!  We’ve been there ourselves.  We struggle with it all.  But in the end, that precious little life we were blessed with is well worth a few extra pounds and sagging skin.

Have you struggled with an overwhelming desire to get your pre-pregnancy body back?  Have you gone to extremes to do so, even compromising your health?  Or do you celebrate these changes?  Leave us your comments.

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