Hollywood sets really high standards for beauty and fitness. Celebrities are always under immense pressure to look their best, whether they're at the Oscars or at Oscar's Pizza. So when you throw a pregnancy into this dynamic, it can get pretty wild.
Regardless, many famous women are known for bouncing back super quick after having a baby. We can only guess if these supernatural feats are the results of media manipulation or bulletproof willpower. However, not all celebrity moms choose this path.
Pushing back against unfair expectations, some are sharing their most personal and private moments on social media in the hopes that fans will see and appreciate what they really look like postpartum.
During the period — which some researchers believe actually lasts up to six months — the mother's body experiences a number of changes, from healing after childbirth to hormonal mood swings. All of this on top of the added stress of breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and the overall monumental adjustment to motherhood (when it's their first child).
Vicki Broadbent, writer, director, broadcaster and founder of Honest Mum, told Bored Panda the pressure on new moms to 'bounce back' is utterly stifling. "It plays into this culture that the quicker the loss, the greater the value and respect we should have for the mother, which in my opinion is awful and damaging," Broadbent said.
"Even the '9 months in and 9 months out' axiom isn't sound for all. Every mother is different, as is every baby. Whilst a small minority of mothers will naturally resume a similar figure as before postpartum, the majority -- so often the hidden majority in the mainstream press -- won't and that's completely normal yet needs to be normalized," the author of Mumboss explained.
"I still have a post-c-section pouch and stretch marks which will never go (and that's fine) and my kids are 10 and 7. Thank goodness for social media and mothers taking more control over their narrative, representing how diverse mothers' bodies are after having a baby. I remember thinking I would leave hospital like Victoria Beckham, as slim as I was pre child. Not. A. Chance. Only seeing slim new mums made me feel like I was failing as a new mother (on top of all the other postpartum stress I endured after a traumatic birth)."
Broadbent admitted that finding herself in a larger body once her baby was born dented her confidence hugely, adding that if society and the media were kinder in their coverage of pregnant and postpartum women, she knows she wouldn't have felt so bad. "My mother who had me in 1980, said it was a given to appear bigger for the first year after having a baby, and maternity wear reflected that with maxi dresses and more billowing dresses being the norm. She said there was an understanding that new mums were going to be bigger for at least a year or more, so the pressure was nowhere near as intense as it is now."
She believes partners can make a difference in the way moms recover from this difficult period, too. Most notably, by reassuring their loved ones that they look wonderful. "They should show deep respect and praise to the mother of their child who endured 9 months (biologically, it's actually 10) and the birthing of their child. My advice would be to cook and prepare meals where possible, help with the childcare when you can, and importantly, encourage rest and sleep which will support her both emotionally and physically."
So mothers, please be kind to yourself. "You have endured the most demanding milestone of your life. Give yourself some credit and if anyone makes you feel bad about yourself online, please hit the unfollow button. Curate your feeds for a happier life and please know that whatever your size and body post baby, you are worthy and amazing," Broadbent said.