You’ve just welcomed your perfect little babe into the world, and suddenly, the pressure is on. The magazine covers at the grocery checkout applaud the celebrity mom, “Her pre-pregnancy body is back and hotter than ever!” Other women in line at the coffee shop, “Oh, I saw so-and-so last week. She’s back at work and you would never know she just had a baby! Good for her!” From early on in my second pregnancy, I’ve been hit with ads for gym memberships to help me bounce back after baby. In our go-getter culture, there is pressure all around for women to return to work and life as usual within a matter of weeks after giving birth. There is pressure to get back to normal, to get back to your pre-pregnancy self and to jump right back into life. And if you can do this while showing no evidence of the miracle your body has facilitated, even better!
But as your fellow mama, I’m begging you to slow down. I urge you to look inward, to breathe, and to allow yourself to observe the amazing things happening within you and around you. Through your body, a brand new human being has been welcomed into the world – and this is no small feat. The power and beauty housed in a woman’s body throughout pregnancy and birth are not flaws to be erased and forgotten. And as for “bouncing back” – there is no going back, no jumping in to your old routine and getting back to normal. In welcoming your baby, you have undergone a most beautiful transformation and the world has become a different place altogether. If this is your first baby, you have crossed the sacred threshold into motherhood. And if this is your second, third, seventh baby, you have been changed from the mother you were to a completely new version of yourself as your heart expands to welcome this new love. You are still you, only a different you, altered by the powerful experience of housing and delivering new life into the world.
Now, I’m not saying your old life is over and gone forever. And I’m not advising you to give up the things you love now that your life is different. I’m simply asking that you grant yourself permission to be a new, recreated and even more beautiful you within your life. If getting back to the gym or back to work right off is important to you, then, by all means, go for it! But please do so only as an honest investment in yourself, without comparison to the woman you used to be (or to the celebrity mom, or any other woman for that matter). Take into consideration the amazing path you’ve walked on your journey into motherhood and allow yourself to be changed by it. There is no need to bounce back, the world is a better place for welcoming both your perfect little babe and the new mother you’ve become.