Post-birth Weight Loss and its Psychological Impact
By: Beth McHugh 2010
I read an interesting article recently about new mothers and their struggle to regain their figures after childbirth. Actually, it was more sad than interesting. The article told the story of a 37-year-old woman who had given birth to her second child and immediately started a five-day-a-week gym regime. This woman fairly quickly regained her figure. But alas there still persisted those elusive silvery stretch marks and she thought that things had sagged a little as well, Anyway, the exercising hadn’t given her back a 25-year old body. But why did she think it should? And why does she feel she needs to have a perfect body?
Self-esteem, she claimed. She went off to have a tummy tuck , breast augmentation and a little bit of lipo on her abdomen, hips, thighs, calves and buttocks. Now she says she feels great and looks sexy. She also claimed that with her gym-trained body alone, she didn’t feel comfortable taking her kids to the park and never wanted to go swimming. Yet she was a normal weight for her height.
The most worrying aspect of this little story, which is sadly repeated in surgeries all over the country, is that she genuinely thought that she was doing her kids a great service. She considers that she is demonstrating to her young infants the benefits of a positive body image. I rather think she is doing the contrary.
If she feels unhappy taking her kids to the park, not because she is morbidly overweight, but because she is less taut and perky than she used to be, how much attention can she really be devoting to those children? If her primary focus is her looks, how will she cope when age takes its toll as it inevitably must? And how will she deal with an event of real significance, such as the loss of a breast through cancer, or horrific injuries as the result of something as commonplace as a car crash?
The obsession to have the perfect body has now been translated into also having a perfect body within four weeks of giving birth. This is sad, not only for the mother, but for the children. Our life priorities are not as they should be. Even experts are concerned at the number of new mothers who are presenting for surgery shortly after giving birth. Doctors are concerned that practices advertising “Mommy Makeovers” are targeting women at a vulnerable time in their lives.
I can’t help but think that mothers who cannot accept normal post-birth bodies are setting themselves up for long-term depression if they buy into the need to look perfect at any age. It is a positive attribute to want look your best, but one has to bring a modicum of commonsense to the table. Setting unrealistic goals can only lead to unhappiness. Self-acceptance and aging gracefully is one of the major keys to a happy and fulfilled life.