I just gave birth to a beautiful baby. My body is literally the least interesting thing about me right now, so why do you want to talk about it?
The past 10 months have definitely been a whirlwind of emotions – joy, fear, anxiety, pride, and most of all, the deepest of love I’ve ever experienced for my little family. Pregnancy and childbirth are such beautiful, exciting, exhausting, complex things. Things that I was lucky to get to experience, and things that my body was specifically designed for. It still blows my mind how incredible my body is for getting me through the past 10 months, and will continue to do for me and my baby in the next year.
What I don’t find mind-blowing in the least? What my body looked like during pregnancy and what it looks like now. But constantly throughout my pregnancy, and then after giving birth, people wanted to talk about my body. Why?
I’ve always thought that it is never appropriate to comment on other people’s bodies. You just never know what people are going through, and why is it any of your damn business what someone else’s body looks like anyway? Even if you’re trying to be nice, just don’t. But commenting on a pregnant woman’s or new mama’s body? That’s especially frustrating.
Before I was pregnant, I was small. But most strangers don’t know that about me. So when I got to be far along in my pregnancy and started to really show, and people often asked me when I was due, (which is a completely normal question and not one that bothered me) and I answered, it was almost always followed by, ‘oh, you don’t look that pregnant.’ or ‘you’re too small to be that far along.‘
It really started to bother me. As if I couldn’t be capable of having a healthy pregnancy at the size I was at. Or somehow my size made my pregnancy less real.
I was perfectly healthy, my baby was growing beautifully, and the doctor had no concerns about my size or weight gain (or lack thereof). I ate well (and often) to nourish myself and my little one (including lots of ice cream), I exercised and did yoga to try to make the birth process as easy as possible on myself, and I was taking great care of myself and my little baby bump. Yet complete strangers felt the need to insert their comments about my size, as if it were their business. As if they had any insight to my health, or genetics for that matter. (Yes, I did gain most of my weight in my belly and chest, but that’s completely due to genetics and nothing I had any influence over. Which is the problem with women wanting a ‘belly only’ pregnancy – it’s completely out of your control. But that’s a topic for another day.)
I even had a member of my family ask how much weight I had gained, at my shower of all places! That’s a terribly rude and inappropriate question to ask anyone, but it’s a dangerous one to ask someone who has struggled with an eating disorder and body issues. And it’s definitely the last path a new mom or mom-to-be wants to go down. Of course I had sessions with my therapist, because I knew I need to be proactive about any issues that might come up with the body changes that happen during pregnancy. But that doesn’t mean that people’s comments didn’t hurt. And annoy the shit out of me.
This is a beautiful time and a proud accomplishment for me. Why are we talking about my body?
And once I had my daughter, the body comments didn’t stop. I’d read lots of articles and What to Expect books and I was fully prepared to look 6 months pregnant for 6 weeks or longer after childbirth. ‘Bouncing back’ was honestly the last thing on my mind after having a baby. Yet here I was 5 days after delivery back in the same body I had before pregnancy. Again, completely genetic and nothing that was the result of anything I did or didn’t do, besides maybe breastfeeding since apparently that helps your uterus get back to its normal size. I almost felt guilty about it. Yet so many people ‘complemented’ me on my post-baby body, telling me I didn’t look like I just had a baby, as if it were something for me to be proud of, even though I had zero control over what my body looked like after baby arrived. (Actually, I lost a good bit of muscle in the last month or so of pregnancy, and I felt weak and floppy. But again, another story for another day.)
So here I am with a brand new baby girl. A beautiful, precious, miracle that my body created and brought into the world. Something that makes me the proudest I’ve ever been. Mine and my husband’s first child. Both of our parents’ first grandchild.
My body is literally the least interesting thing about me right now, so why do you want to talk about it?
Tell me that I’m doing a good job at being a mother. Tell me how wonderful you think my new child is. Tell me how amazing it is that I pushed that little baby out in only 3 pushes. Tell me that you’re sorry I didn’t get to spend the golden hour with my first child. Tell me I look exhausted and to try to get some rest, for all I care. But please, don’t talk about the most irrelevant thing on Earth to a new mom. Don’t comment on the way my body looks.
I don’t care if you think you’re complementing me. You aren’t. You’re minimizing the miracle of pregnancy, childbirth and my new daughter. You’re downplaying my accomplishment as a new mom.
So while I will always tell you that it’s inappropriate to comment on any woman’s body. Please, please, especially, don’t comment on an expecting or new mother’s body. Just don’t, ok?