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Why We Need To Stop Commenting On Women's Post Birth 'Bounce Back'

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Why We Need To Stop Commenting On Women's Post Birth 'Bounce Back'

Bringing another human into the world is a superhero-level achievement. The fact that as women, our bodies can grow life in just nine months is mind-boggling.

But for so many women, once the baby is born, somehow the focus shifts from everything you've achieved, to what you're going to achieve next.

Will you breastfeed? Will you feel that instant connection? How will you cope with the sleepless nights? What about the transition to mum? And - the most frustrating of all - will you 'bounce back'?

Sigh. Can we ban that phrase?!

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Many women feel pressure to 'bounce back' (Credit: Shutterstock)
Many women feel pressure to 'bounce back' (Credit: Shutterstock)

For many women - and especially those in the public eye, whose every move is scrutinised on social media - this is an excruciating amount of pressure, at an already challenging time.

Every woman's body is different, and not returning to your pre-baby shape - whether now, next year, or further down the line - isn't something to be ashamed of.

Equally, on the other hand, finding yourself back in your size 10 jeans quicker than you'd ever imagined, isn't something anyone else should negatively comment on either. We're all different, with varying lifestyles (never mind genetics!) so we shouldn't assume to know how a woman is feeling - or what she's doing - based on her waistline.

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Take Laura Whitmore, for example. When the Love Island host appeared on our screens last month, looking jaw-dropping after welcoming her baby girl a few months earlier, viewers were stunned.

Viewers were stunned when Laura appeared on Love Island (Credit: Laura Whitmore/Instagram)
Viewers were stunned when Laura appeared on Love Island (Credit: Laura Whitmore/Instagram)

"Confused, I swear Laura Whitmore has just had a baby," said one.

And another added: "Sat crying into my chicken dippers watching #LoveIsland coz Laura Whitmore looks INCREDIBLE after having a baby a few months ago and I have no excuse other than I enjoy food too much."

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"Laura Whitmore's snapback... didn't she just have a baby!?"

But, as Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife and founder of My Expert Midwife, explains, we're all different - and it's okay to return to your pre-baby shape quickly, just as it's okay to take a little bit longer.

Lesley explains that really, the focus should be on how we're feeling internally and emotionally.

She told Tyla: "Very few women will appear to 'bounce back' soon after giving birth. And this is fine. We are all different. However, this should not be a cause and focus for celebration by society.

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"Regardless of how they appear externally, these women are likely to still be adjusting to - and, perhaps, struggling with - body, brain, emotional and life changes that inevitably come with parenthood. They, too, need to be heard and seen for what they are, how they feel and what they've been through.

"Instead of focusing on how much you weigh, make your health a priority. Ensuring you are eating a balance, nutritious diet. Stay hydrated and eat plenty of soluble fibre, including fruit and veg, smoothies and soups, which will help you heal and recover, as well as making bowel movements much easier."

One reality star who often discusses the pressures of 'snapping back' is Charlotte Dawson, who welcomed her baby boy Noah, back in January.

Charlotte regularly shares the ups and downs of being a new mum and she recently told Tyla how she wants women to embrace their postpartum bodies.

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Charlotte Dawson regularly shared the highs and lows of being a new mum (Credit: Charlotte Dawson/Instagram)
Charlotte Dawson regularly shared the highs and lows of being a new mum (Credit: Charlotte Dawson/Instagram)

"I don't want to put pressure on myself. I just want to embrace this post-partum body. Yeah, I do have stretch marks. But I'm not going to beat myself up about it, because I want to enjoy my time with my little cherub," she said.

"I think there's a lot of pressure on young girls to look a certain way nowadays. And it should be about being healthy.

"It's sad even now it's not even expected to be 'normal' to be chunky but funky after birth, you're just expected to get straight back into your size 8 jeans. And that's not realistic!"

Lesley adds that when you consider everything that a woman goes through during pregnancy and birth, it's easy to see why physical appearance shouldn't take priority.

"Most women feel foreign in their own bodies following their pregnancies and after giving birth. Their bellies feel 'empty', as their internal organs return to their original place and their tummy muscles and skin have no baby to wrap around," she says.

"It is likely that new mums will have wounds that are healing from their individual birth experiences - from C-sections, tears or episiotomies - and most definitely internal (and external) bruising and tenderness. Their breasts can be sore, full and leaking and they will likely still be bleeding vaginally.

"When we start to understand the above factors it is easy to see that bouncing back into a pre-pregnancy body shape should not take priority.

"Following the birth of their babies, women need plenty of time and space to heal and recover, to get to know their new babies, to learn to feed and care for them. This time is essential, both for their physical and emotional wellbeing, and for the wellbeing of their babies and families."

You can hear more from Lesley, over at My Expert Midwife.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Life News, Parenting, Health

Lucy Devine
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