“What are you planning to do to lose all that baby weight?”
There I was, sitting with my brand new baby laying in his bassinet beside me, both of us fresh from the hospital and exhausted. My postpartum body was swollen, bruised, bleeding, leaking, and dealing with the barrage of postpartum hormones coursing through my veins that caused me to be swelteringly hot one moment, freezing the next and then bursting into tears for virtually no reason at all.
The screen on my cellphone lit up with a name I hadn’t seen in years. I was a bit taken aback but not surprised. There were lots of names from the past popping into my messages to send their well-wishes to my new little family.
“Hey Girl! (emoji, emoji, emoji) Congrats on the new baby, he is so cute (emoji, emoji, emoji). What are you planning to do to lose all that baby weight? You know I have some products and accountability groups that I think you could really benefit from! (Emoji, emoji, emoji).”
I reread the message, making sure that my tired eyes weren’t deceiving me. Did my childhood acquaintance just ask me how I was planning on losing the baby weight after giving birth a few DAYS ago?
In our society, moms are given space to grow and change their body while pregnant, but the minute that baby exits your uterus, it feels like everyone wants your body to go back to looking like it did when you were a teenager. We’ve all seen the magazine covers praising the newest celebrity mom for her quick “bounce back” and jeering the ones who dare defy expectations by embracing her new body.
I expected comments relating to weight during and after my pregnancy, but reading that message really started to do a number on my mind (please see the reference to raging hormones at the top of the page). I went back and looked through every picture I posted of me sleepily holding my son by the side of his NICU bed. I knew I had gained weight (I was pregnant, after all), but was my baby weight all people were seeing?
I started to question everything I put in my mouth. The frozen lasagnas lovingly prepared by friends and family to nourish our family during this period of transition just started to look like piles of carbs and fat to me. I would stare at my still inflated belly in the mirror. I would try to force myself, like a sausage into a casing, into my pre-baby jeans just to prove to myself that I could.
Listen, I don’t fault my acquaintance for her hustle. I know she sold these products to help support her family. She was another mom just trying to do what is best for her family. I know she truly feels like the work she does helps people, and I’m sure it does help some people, but this approach to selling those products is wrong. It is predatory. It is dangerous. It needs to stop. A woman’s postpartum body should be off-limits.
When you send that message to a new mom, you don’t know what she’s battling. Maybe she is recovering from an eating disorder. Maybe she is struggling with Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. Maybe she loves her body just the way it is. What she doesn’t need is the suggestion that her body is wrong in its current state.
So while I encourage those of you who may be sellers of these types of products to continue to grind and provide for your family, I beg of you to take new moms out of your “target market.” Their postpartum body should never be used as a sales pitch for you to sell a shake, a pill, a wrap, or an exercise program because you never know how much damage that seemingly innocent message could do to that new mom on the receiving end.