The snapback

Loving mother with her baby against brown background. Happy woman carrying her toddler.

The ‘snapback’. Something I was blissfully unaware of and thought was a type of hat but quickly realised after having a baby this is an actual trend. An unwelcomed phrase about how fast a woman ‘snaps back’ to her pre-pregnancy state. Like who really coined this superficial term, give me their number! Disappointedly, this term is deemed as a badge of honour or a ludicrous standard of beauty. Imposing unnecessary pressure to an already pressurised time, when women are most vulnerable.

We have already established having a baby changes our lives and bodies forever, so why is society so hell-bent on forcing mothers to snap back or lose the ‘baby weight’ before we have even brought our baby home? What is the rush to be able to fit back into those pre-pregnancy jeans? In between the hormones, sweats, leaky boobs we are flooded with messages of flat tummy tea, waist trainers and diet pills that seep into our minds and preying on our insecurities.

Before I progress, I’m not hating on any mother who chooses to lose weight gained during pregnancy or is a fitness fanatic- health is wealth. I’m angered by the notion that the state of a woman’s body after having given birth is deemed not good enough or not to be appreciated. To rapidly shed the pounds that successfully or difficulty (dependent upon your circumstances) nurtured a new life. Rather than focusing on how well she is doing mentally and if she is strong enough to physically take care of herself and her baby, society is bombarding us with images and messages that the current state of our body is no longer aesthetically pleasing.

Can we take a moment to recognise that it takes 9 months to grow a baby, so expecting a woman’s body to revert to anything that remotely resembles her body pre-baby, within a few weeks or months is damn near impossible if not, it’s nonsensical. Our bodies have taken an utter battering, therefore recuperation shouldn’t be overlooked nor rushed.  Sidebar, can whoever it is who has their stopwatch running, stop it. This is not a race.

Who really came up with this concept that a mother is expected to pop the baby out one day and the next her abs just pop back like nothing happened? Put aside any weight gained, some women experience diastasis recti which is when the two stomach muscles separate and do not return to their original position causing a gap. If any mother is experiencing this and is over-exercising to ‘snapback’ can make the situation worse. Take note, crunches and sit-ups are not advised in this circumstance can add to the problem.

After giving birth it is so crucial for women to heal properly to allow her to be able to take care of her baby and family. Those first few weeks and months should be centred around spending time loving on her baby and learning how to be a mum. If you’re able to be active during this time to build up your strength, then by all means do what is right for you. But if you’re obsessing about counting calories and how many pounds you need to lose; you’re not allowing yourself to recuperate.

Exercise and staying active is one of the best ways to fight anxiety and depression and I’m an advocate for mums and women to stay healthy and work out. However, what is not acceptable is the incessant pressure of forcing women to attain these unrealistic goals that can impact their mental health. Why is media and society on a mission to make mums feel like their amazing bodies that carry life are nothing more than a shell that can be manipulated and moulded into an unrealistic and damning image that plays havoc on our mental health?

Sadly, whilst the media is projecting these negative messages, it is other women who are perpetuating this belief and fuelling this problematic narrative- what happened to sisterhood? Other mothers too are sharing this same attitude and making other mothers question their appearance and their journey back to being comfortable within their skin. We must break this trend and offer support, comfort and patience for our new mums. Create a community that uplifts and appreciates women’s body after giving birth and beyond. A new narrative that focuses on how we are doing mentally rather than what size we are wearing or what the scales says.

Having concerns about your weight gain is normal and you can take the right steps to get to an ideal weight, shape or size that you’re comfortable with but at a speed that is right for you. The comparison to others not only impacts your self-esteem but robs you of pressure moments with your newborn. And let’s be honest comparing ourselves to Instagram models and celebrities as a benchmark is hopeless. Don’t forget that they have nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers plus nannies. And unless you have Beyonce money, stay in your lane boo. Don’t compare yourself with others, your body is yours and deserves to be treated specially. Let your body be in control and go at your own pace.

However, if you are wanting to lose weight then by all means do so. When you feel ready and you have the go-ahead from your doctors; go for walks, do yoga, stretch regularly, and introduce weights (babies are great weights plus, it’s another bonding opportunity). Don’t expect your body to change overnight. Be patient, give yourself time to get to know your new body. Then when you’re ready take it up a notch and increase your pace and weights, you’ll soon start seeing results and start feeling good about your appearance. Don’t forget if you are able and choose to, breastfeeding does help weight loss (our bodies really are amazing). Of course, ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet with a high amount of vegetables to get those much-needed vitamins. And most importantly, make sure you do those kegel or it won’t be your weight you will be worried about in years to come

And as we emerge out of lockdown and back to some form of normality, I’m sure some of us have put on some corona weight too, and no doubt starting to feel the pressure of ‘snapping back’ or getting that ‘summer body’. As above give yourself time, we’ve just been through a pandemic. Be patient and appreciate that you have survived the worst crisis in our lifetimes and that is no easy feat. Congratulate your body for getting you through even if you wanted to give up. Take a moment to recognise what your body does for you before you start criticising the shape or size.

Let’s all stop letting photoshopped images on the gram and the media send us down a path of self-loathing and killing ourselves to be this ‘ideal’. Let’s embrace our postpartum body (and corona bodies) and appreciate our tiger stripes and know that our bodies are damn right amazing!

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