“How often do we ask, research, and think about bouncing back after a baby? Almost all of us do it immediately and often. We want to feel like our old selves again. Heck, we want to look like our old selves again. There is so much pressure on mothers—from both society and ourselves—to bounce back. Well, mama, there is no bounce back. And you know what? That’s ok.
I can work out every day and get in awesome shape, but I still haven’t bounced back. I can go out with friends, do the things I’ve always enjoyed, but I still haven’t bounced back.
This amazing thing happens when you become a mother: you transition into something different, something new. Yes, our old selves are still in there, and maybe for some, their pre-baby bodies go back to looking relatively the same almost immediately. However, we are still different, and you know what? That’s pretty awesome.
I’ve always been pretty fit, but my body is not the same as it once was. I’ve given birth to two daughters in less than five years and breastfeeding now for over four years—with just a 3-month hiatus in between babies. I can squeeze places I could never squeeze before. I can weigh the same as I did before kids, but I still can’t fit in the same jeans. My breasts are different. My hips are different. I’m happy with different. Different means I did everything I wanted my body to do.
And different is the way it’s supposed to be. We aren’t supposed to be the same. I detest when people use the term ‘battle scars’ when referring to postpartum bodies. Mama, these aren’t battle scars, these are our victory stripes.
We not only change physically but mentally. After we give birth, our brain structure and function literally changes. Science has shown significant growth in a mother’s brain after she gives birth. The midbrain, which is the area of the brain we get our maternal instinct, decision making, emotional regulation, and ability to learn is one of the areas of the brain we see this change the most. Our brains literally changed. They changed to respond to our baby’s needs, like running to our baby when he or she cries, instinctively putting the protection of our child over everything. The hormones oxytocin and progesterone are released more, which plays a huge role in our bonding with our babies. Pretty amazing, right?
You’re never going to completely bounce back. When we create and give birth to a baby, we also create and give birth to the mother. We are changed—and it’s a good thing. We need to focus on how to grow with our changes and be comfortable in our new bodies (remember: these bodies did the most miraculous thing known to humankind!). We need to love our new selves because even though what we’re seeing, feeling, and experiencing is different, it’s beautiful. We don’t need to throw our old selves away, but we do need to realize that we’ve evolved into something pretty astonishing. Be healthy, and don’t focus on trying to bounce back. Focus on who you are becoming, because it’s who you were meant to be.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Ostroth of Milkitivity. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more from Melissa here:
‘You just need to go back to work, you can’t handle this.’ I was fearful to break down in front of my husband. I’m a stay-at-home mom.’: Mom says ‘You can breakdown and you need to.’
‘I still love breastfeeding. The bond, those quiet moments. We aren’t scared ‘to cut the cord.’: Mom still breastfeeds toddler, says ‘We are doing it for our child’s health’
‘I promise you, mama, you will sleep again. You’re not alone. There are many mamas up at 3 a.m. yawning just like you.’: Mom says you are not alone in your breastfeeding struggles
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