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In our society, women are bombarded with words, images, and clothing designed to enhance or change us.  This pressures us to, at all times, look our best.   But, is it really ‘our best’?Isn’t it the ‘best’ of society and the expectations placed upon us?

Much of the pressure women are faced with in appearance, is external.  This is recognized by many.  Women’s bodies are highly sexualized in our society.  This is widely recognized and discussed.

This doesn’t end with pregnancy.

Pregnant women’s bodies are generally touted as beautiful. It is my opinion that these external pressures, though somewhat reduced, remain. It’s a well known fact, not every woman’s body responds to pregnancy in the same ways.  This is true in physical appearance and other ways, too.  Despite this, the messages and pressure for women to maintain society’s sexualization of them is there.

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Following pregnancy, the messages that were present all along are even more aggressive.

Women’s bodies grow to accommodate a babies, birth babies).  Still, the overall expectation is that women Not “look” like they’ve accomplished this incredible feat.  There’s this ideas that a woman’s body hasn’t stretched to new heights and limits. As we women know, our belly’s don’t just expand and stretch for a baby, our hips, legs, breasts, arms, and (yes) our ankles/feet all change.

All of these changes are expected.

These changes are necessary.

Where and how a woman’s body grows while carrying a child depends on that woman’s body, but all of the changes are essentially the same, for every woman everywhere.

Women's bodies all change in pregnancy. Every woman, everywhere! Click To Tweet

We become massive human beings while growing a new human being. Once we give birth though, we hear and see different things which tell us how we should look. The more time goes on after birth the more the pressure increases. Let’s face it, just as not all women’s bodies respond to pregnancy the same, not all women’s bodies recover the same either.

Though I haven’t found any definitive research or information on long-term overall postpartum recovery, I know that some people go by the “9 month rule” wherein, it took 9 or so months to grow a baby and will take about that long to recover. Many generally believe and have experienced that it has taken at least about a year to fully recover from pregnancy and childbirth. Why is the pressure so strong on women to not look as if they’ve had a baby?  Why are we to look as if we’re not recovering from being pregnant in general? It’s almost as if becoming pregnant, growing a child, birthing a child, and then mothering a child still isn’t “enough”.

Are women just not “enough”, Ever?

What I want to say is that the external pressures on how women look, only serves to increase the pressures and demands on women overall, and are therefore detrimental. If, prior to pregnancy, these expectations weren’t highly integrated into your psyche, they certainly will be after pregnancy!  These pressures are exactly what I’d posit lead women to find their postpartum bodies disgusting, difficult to look at, a turn off, or any other such thoughts. This can (and does, in my opinion) add to or create mental/emotional stress as well.

I, myself, rarely look at my naked body in the mirror.  When I do get an unexpected glimpse, my thoughts automatically become negative and self-loathing.

It takes effort, more often than not, to remind myself that I’m 3 months postpartum!

I have to remind myself that my pregnancy belly was massive and that the skin will not be the same, that the somewhat flat-ness will likely not return in the same way. I have to remind myself it’s ok the “flab” hasn’t disappeared.  The stretch marks on my hips and thighs are OK. The way my breasts have changed in order to feed Baby Boy, is OK. The fact that my clothing fits much differently is OK. My belly “flab” will get even smaller and one day it won’t protrude ever so slightly over my pants. These are the things I have to tell myself about my amazing body – the body that grew and nurtured a child before birth and continues to nurture said child now.

I wonder if I’ll ever wear jeans again or body fitting shirts or dresses. And it’s because of this lamenting my own body, despite it’s amazing feats.  So when Hun tells me unexpectedly that I’m beautiful or touches/rubs my belly and says it’s Baby Boy’s pod or chases me around the house flirtatiously or kisses me with such intensity and sincerity, my heart breaks in that relieving way; the kind of break that releases some of the pressure and helps me further accept and love my postpartum body.

Hun continues to believe me beautiful. In fact, he has said I am more beautiful to him now and he thought I was beautiful then. And for a day or so, these are the things which sustain me. These are the comments that help me to begin to believe it too. Yes, I am beautiful! If for no other reason than that I have grown and continue to nurture another human being.

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Postpartum Body and Societal Expectations
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*This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through, I may earn a small commission. Your price will never be affected by my affiliate link. On occasion, I also write sponsored posts, which help to run the blog as well. I thank you for supporting this space, so I can continue to share my journey and our family adventures. For more information, please visit the full disclosure here*


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