Losing Weight After Baby, The Expectations And Pressure
Society has so many expectations for moms: always breastfeed (ditch the bottle) but never breastfeed in public; always put your kids first, all your fun ends with your first child; go back to work … or … don’t go back to work, there’s enough guilt to go around for everybody. But one of the most critical rules is to make sure you lose pregnancy weight immediately.
The Role of Social Media In Fueling Expectations
It is not uncommon to see celebrities posting their rock-hard, tanned abs on Instagram just two months post-partum. They’re dubbed the ‘snapback queens’ and sure enough, they are worshipped for losing their baby weight in that short space of time. However, if you’re on the opposite end of that spectrum, it might be healthier for you to stay away from that comment section.
Hicks and Brown (2016) postulate that higher social media use results in greater body dissatisfaction in pregnant and post-partum women. The study also concluded that those with social media accounts and who spent more time on social media have more body image concerns than those who do not. Furthermore, more than 50% of pregnant women tend to compare their bodies with others on Facebook. The pressure to snap back is real, with social media being the number one perpetrator, although sometimes its influence does not seem explicit. When women see Beyoncé in a magazine looking absolutely stunning a month after she delivered twins, it forces them to set an impractical target weight. In truth, it is very unlikely for most women to lose all of their baby weight in that short time period. We should also be cognizant of the fact that many images on social media have been photo-shopped and a lot of famous persons choose alternative methods of losing weight such as tummy-tucks rather than dieting and exercise. Celebs also have completely different lifestyles: they may have less demanding jobs that allow them more time to exercise and they usually have access to trainers and dieticians. Moreover, they can afford help for their children and household which gives them more time to focus on themselves.
Carrying and delivering a baby can result in considerable changes in a woman’s body shape and size which may naturally cause her to have some concerns. However, the constant pressure placed on mothers to lose weight is typically the basis for additional and unnecessary emotional stress. Lovering, Rodgers, Edwards-George, and Franko (2017) confirmed that the intense pressure that post-partum women receive not only comes from social media, but from several sociocultural factors, including their family, friends, and romantic partners. Findings reveal that women internalize the suggestions to achieve almost unrealistic body goals and this contributes to their overall body dissatisfaction.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself; Keep Expectations Realistic About Losing Baby Weight
When a woman is pregnant, she is complimented on her ‘glow’ and how cute she looks with her baby bump. Rarely, though, do others give her enough time to heal after her baby is born, or at least acknowledge all the changes her body has gone through, before vocalizing the “what next” of the snapback. Coupled with taking care of another human being 24/7, fluctuating hormone levels, and sleep deprivation among other things, stressing about losing weight can make the postnatal period extremely difficult. A study conducted by Roomruangwong, Kanchanatawan, Sirivichayakul, and Maes (2017) suggests that over a third of pregnant women are displeased with their body image and this can be linked to perinatal depression and anxiety. One in fourteen women suffers from eating disorders within their first trimester and a few try to prevent gaining pregnancy weight by fasting or exercising excessively.
It’s important to keep expectations realistic, acknowledging that many women are going through the same thing. The bulk of the weight gained during pregnancy is from the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid. Most women may lose up to 12 pounds after delivering. Within six weeks after birth, almost half of the baby’s weight is shed. Breastfeeding, a daily exercise routine, and a healthy diet may help to result in further weight loss. However, it’s perfectly fine to be okay with your post-partum look and there should be no unnecessary rush to shed those pounds. It can be hard enough for new moms to schedule a time for workouts when they are just figuring out their baby’s routine anyway, and. while taking care of your baby takes obvious priority over losing weight. However, do try to get time in to focus on your physical health and mental well-being; you are the best at being a mom when you feel healthy and stress-free. It is absolutely important to get your sleep in too.
If getting rid of the baby’s weight is something you absolutely must do, then the most important thing to remember is to have patience. Breathe in, think about what can be done to get you closer to your goal, then breathe out. A healthy and efficient target for new moms would be to lose two or three pounds per week. Think positively and try not to rush it and you’ll find that you will lose that weight in no time.
It’s perfectly normal to have concerns about weight gain and make image comparisons with other moms. Nevertheless, if you find that these body image thoughts are chronic, reoccurring, and continue to worsen, you feel depressed most of the time and are practicing bad eating habits (binging and extreme dieting), then you need to seek help. You are not alone, many mothers face the same problem. Convince yourself that being healthy (both mentally and physically) is of great benefit to you and your baby, while also learning to appreciate your uniqueness.
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