Th reality is it takes at least a year to recover from childbirth. So, why are we so damn hard on ourselves in those first 12 months postpartum?
Do we miss our old selves? Do we think we could do better, but are too tired to put forth effort above what it takes to survive? Do we get stuck in the comparison trap that social media so often presents?
I’ve been there. I AM there. I’ve looked at my stomach and winced at the post-baby bump. I’ve told myself over and over that I’m normal, that my mom body is a good body because it’s strong and capable of amazing things. No doubt, adjusting to life postpartum is rough.
The other day, while rocking my baby to sleep and scrolling through Instagram I paused for a long while on Instagram mom Ashley Woolsey’s viral photo. Her black and white before-and-after spoke volumes. Her words, even more: “I’m learning to appreciate every curve and every scar and to accept that I HAVE had three kids and so my body HAS changed and it will be forever changed and that's OK!”
No wonder her photo has garnered thousands of likes and comments. She just gets it. Over the course of three pregnancies, this 28-year-old mom has developed a postpartum philosophy we all should adopt.
Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to chat with Ashley about her personal postpartum journey and how her perspective changed between her first, second, and third child.
And I'm not going to apologize anymore for not living up to this false idea that we need to undo what birth has done to us.
Ashley’s first baby, a girl, was born when she was 20 and a junior in college. She struggled, as many of us do, while adjusting to motherhood. Her weight bothered her and looking back she believes she battled a mild version of postpartum depression. After graduation she was able to focus more on herself—eating better and working out, but she shares "I'd be lying if i said I wasn't terrified to have another baby in fear that it would happen all over again.”
Ashely did go on to have another baby, a little boy, and this time she had “a much easier time accepting my body and appreciating it instead of hating it.” To honor her postpartum beauty she chose to participate in the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. For Ashley, it was a healing experience and the start of her path towards her current attitude.
Real acceptance came after her third baby. “After she was born I didn't even think about needing to 'get back' to wherever," shares Ashely. "I took things extra slow. Now, I’m exactly one year postpartum with her and I'm still taking it slow. I haven't gotten back into running yet but I feel OK about it. I have a balance. Some days I feel bloated and not amazing, but most days I'm so proud of what my body has accomplished.
I think it's beautiful and powerful and I think instead of needing to fix it constantly I've learned to respect it. Respect what it's been through and be proud. I'm really proud of my body. And I'm not going to apologize anymore for not living up to this false idea that we need to undo what birth has done to us. Our body is on a journey and these scars and these soft spots are the pages of one truly incredible story and I for one, would hate to erase them.”
I mean, can we all just stop there and freak out? How perfect is that? How spot on!?!
Ashley implores the rest of us moms to help grow a more body positive culture, “Share your stories. Share your pictures. Share your struggles. The good the bad the ugly. The best way to normalize something is by talking openly about it. There are so many variations of normal when it comes to motherhood and as long as you and your family are healthy and happy then we should all be supporting one another. Let's be each others village."