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Blame this recent New York Times article for what you're about to read. Let's talk baby weight. Gaining it, losing it, and how celebrities on covers of magazines make the rest of us feel bad. Correction: How they make *some people* feel bad.
As a lone duck, I'm here to shout that no woman should feel bad when seeing such images... we should feel empowered. (No, I'm not drunk.)
Trust that I know how sensitive this topic is, and please keep in mind that what you're about to read is coming from an honest place and it's my genuine authentic opinion... and as we all value, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion based on their own experiences.
Now back to celebs: As twisted as this sounds, I actually enjoyed perusing images of Hollywood moms who bounced back after baby when I was pregnant. I never felt "'bad" or "pressured" when I saw their impossibly-fit bods, showcasing how they returned to their former selves right after having babies (hello, they're celebrities, for crying-out-loud, it's kind of their job to fascinate us). Brooke Burke, Bethenny Frankel, Miranda Kerr, Beyonce and Gisele Bundchen were some of my faves. But instead of feeling inferior about my own "regular gal" status, I actually felt challenged.
My delusional phenomenon happened with both of my pregnancies/babies (September 2010 and March 2012). Maybe my hormones were working a number on me. Let's see if I can get close to pulling off what they pull off... without airbrushing. So I tried. Yes, celebs have trainers and tons of hired help, but my question remained: Is it possible for regular gals to bounce back fast?
I've never claimed to have a supermodel body (or ever will have, for that matter), but I was intent to get back to MY body after my babies were born. And I'm convinced that most any and every woman can realistically bounce back within a few months. You won't return to your high school body, or the body you wish you had, but rather (most likely) to the body you really had just before pregnancy.
I'm no fitness/health expert (and I can't speak to the issue of having to go on bed-rest or having a high-risk pregnancy), but here's an idea for bouncing back quickly (for us regular women): Don't gain more baby weight than medically suggested. For a healthy woman to grow ONE baby, it is generally recommended that weight gain (over nine months) hover between 25-35 pounds... maybe even up to 40 if you were especially petite to begin with.
In other words, it's NOT healthy to gain 50, 60, 70 or even more pounds like many pregnant women steer society to believe. (Sorry, Jessica Simpson, but those times that you bragged about gleefully gorging yourself with donuts and those reported 50+ pounds gained is not responsible or healthy.) I am so exhausted by media and talking heads pretending that it's ok for women to gain excessive weight during pregnancy. And lately it seems that if anyone (especially a woman) has an opinion about how packing on major pounds during pregnancy is not okay, it is immediately scolded and hushed.
This philosophy encourages a dangerous standard and sets a disturbing precedence concerning good health for pregnant women (and their babies). I'm well aware that my point of view is in the minority and not the politically-correct thing to say these days, but I know there are other women who feel this same way about pregnancy weight gain/loss... you've emailed me for goodness sakes! (Whether this blog enrages you or supports your own opinions, feel free to check out what else I have to say about it by clicking here.)
If you don't go overboard with weight gain, then yes, you too can bounce back like a celebrity. Anyone that calls you an unrealistic skinny-b*tch for thinking (and living) this way should be ignored. I write these words as a "skinny-b*tch" new mom (I've actually been called this to my face, which didn't make me feel weird/guilty/sad/judged/uncomfortable at all).
I don't have servants, I don't have a nanny that enables me to do sit-ups all day, I don't have a housekeeper, and I don't have the endless assistance of a mom-in-town-to-help-me... and many times I don't have a husband around either (thanks to his crazy work schedule... NO, I haven't employed any of his services as of yet). I only share this with you to assure you that I haven't been on some secluded and absurd celebrity workout regime to return to my pre-baby self after having babies. Pulling off this little trick has nothing to do with pressure, starvation, excessive exercising or selfishly neglecting your newborn... it has everything to do with empowerment, a healthy attitude during pregnancy, respect for your body (and self) and keeping your wits somewhat intact.
Take care of yourself before and during pregnancy. If you are in good shape before pregnancy and do your part to minimally maintain your body around your growing belly, naturally-existing muscle-memory will kick in a few months after that baby is out and you just might return closer to your pre-baby bod earlier than you thought, despite how society seems to tell women that they can't... or shouldn't.
Getting back to your pre-baby weight months after delivery (or within a few pounds) is pure math, check out these fascinating facts and guidelines about how much 'pregnancy stuff' actually weighs on Canada's BabyCenter site. If you try to adhere to the 25-35 pound weight gain suggestion and do the subtraction yourself, you'll find that the average woman is left with about 10-15 pounds extra after giving birth... having to lose 10 pounds over the course of 3 months after having a baby isn't nearly as daunting as having to lose 30. Not to mention, my tummy insides had a lot of help from my undying affection for my Tauts Belly Wrap that I wore morning, noon and night 40 days after delivery - I wasn't afraid to admit it.
IT'S NOT A BAD THING TO WANT TO RETURN TO YOUR PRE-PREGNANCY, SEXY SELF AS FAST AS YOU CAN AFTER HAVING A BABY... and to actually do it.
As for celebs: They just returned to the same person they were before getting pregnant. (And with the help of trainers too... but that's their job.) So the next time you think of chastising or scolding a new mom for looking great after having a baby and internally - or verbally - accuse her of neglecting her new infant for the sake of looking surprisingly good, please rethink it. Believe it or not, some of
us those "skinny-b*tches" happen to be pretty decent at this mom-thing (and have happy and balanced babies too).
Maybe we were lucky, but maybe we also just began our pregnancies with the "after" result in the back of our minds. I can attest that bouncing back to "myself" quickly boosted my confidence and emotional strength... and I fully believe it made me a better mom for my girls. I was [am] happy, settled, stress-free (most of the time) and content when I looked [look] in the mirror because I recognized [recognize] the woman looking back at me.
So thank you, Brooke, Beyonce, Bethenny, Gisele and Miranda. You inspired me, and continue to do so. And it's ok to feel good about that.
What do you think about celebrity moms' post-baby bods? Are they frustrating or inspiring?