Big news hit this week when Prince William and Duchess Kate appeared with their new bundle of joy for the whole world to see. There was much ado about something – from the excitement over the new heir to the unofficial town crier.
But one thing that shouldn’t have made waves among news headlines and the wide world of the mommy blogosphere was Kate’s “bravery” in showing off her post-baby belly.
What a back-handed compliment that is, isn’t it?
It’s a sad day when “bravery” is the word used when a new mother is shown sporting the natural inflation of her belly one day postpartum – as if she should be expected to hide all proof of pregnancy once her baby is born. The honest truth is, bravery shouldn’t even be associated with the acceptance of this reality – that a swollen abdomen is the natural state of a woman’s belly in the weeks, even months, after birth.
And yet, not everyone accepts this truth.
In an AP article, one woman was quoted as saying the best piece of advice she got before her first child was born was to pack a girdle in her maternity bag, and admitted to even wearing it to bed at night to hide her changed figure. (Read the article here —> http://bit.ly/11gZSxA)
One shapewear company wasted no time in using Kate’s figure to remind new mommies to hide their protruding belly.
If we were to believe Hollywood, women skip out of the delivery room wearing the same size they wore pre-pregnancy. In fact, many actresses take to hiding from the public until they’ve lost all effects the pregnancy has on their bodies.
And the pressure continues for women to feel awful about themselves if they look anything less than perfect.
Here’s the truth. The weeks after having a baby, a new mother should expect to still look pregnant. And after having a child, her body will NEVER look the same as it did before pregnancy. Some may never lose the weight, some will only hold on to a few pounds, and a few will manage to work their way into the same size. But a post-pregnant body is changed forever – from a few new stretch marks, wider hips, smaller or larger breasts, increased shoe size (seriously)….
Sixteen years ago, my mother tried to tell me this truth. I was three months pregnant, still holding on to my teeny tiny pre-pregnancy frame despite a cute little bump where my flattened stomach used to be. I had just gone shopping earlier that day, and found the cutest form fitting dress in a size I could have worn easily three months earlier. At this point, it still looked cute, though my baby belly stretched out the material at the waist. My plan was to save it for after the baby was born. But my mom pointed out that after carrying a baby for nine months, my body would never fit into that small size again.
I didn’t believe her. I reluctantly returned the dress, but I told her that she’d see, I would walk out of that hospital wearing a size 0 carrying my delicate little bundle of joy.
That little bundle of joy ended up being 9 lbs, 12 oz of solid baby. And my body was most definitely transformed after gaining FIFTY pounds throughout the whole pregnancy. While I lost 30 pounds in the hospital (thank you, gestational diabetes and extreme water gain), I held on to the rest of that weight long after the day my daughter was born.
Sixteen years later, and I don’t think my stomach has ever been back to flat.
By refusing to girdle her stomach, Kate was not being brave, she was being honest, and she was showing the public where her priorities landed – on her new son and his first appearance in front of the world. Isn’t that where all our priorities should land – on the miracle of new life instead of how large or small the mother’s belly is?
A body that has been through carrying a human being to full term should not be expected to stay the same – whether the day after birth, or when your child is getting ready to start driving a car. And the pressure of perfection being placed on a woman’s shape at any point in her life needs to stop – especially when it comes to what her body looks like after giving birth.