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A Bumpy Body Image

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Credit: Grammatic Error

At 30 weeks pregnant, I can honestly say that I love my pregnant body. Sure, I’ll be glad to be a little less clumsy . And it’ll be nice to be able to bend over and tie my shoes with ease again. Not to mention take care of my bikini line, which I can no longer see. And I do miss sleeping on my stomach and being able to shift positions in the night without having to muster all of my focus at 3 a.m. But when I say that I feel like a whale, I mean it in the kindest sense. I don’t mean that I feel fat—I mean that I feel how a whale must feel when she’s washed up on the beach: I’m not in an environment natural to this body type, and it’s darn difficult to maneuver.

As the belly gets larger and larger and as I see my tiny chicken pox scar migrate from down by my hip to way up my side, I do wonder how it’s possible that I’ll ever bounce back after baby. How does a stomach the size of a basketball ever return to its previous shape? If you believe the covers of all of the magazines, it’s going to be a breeze. I’ll be on here in December bragging that I lost 30 pounds in just 30 days.

JUST KIDDING, I WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO YOU. And you know why? Because it’s ridiculous.

I think part of the public’s fascination with the post-baby-body magazine cover is that we’re all curious as to what the body really looks like after a baby arrives. While Kourtney Kardashian (and countless others) bare their bods post-pregnancy, beware of the excessive Photoshop that they often encounter. These before-and-after photos are so unrealistic—and we know that—but it’s hard to keep them from getting in our brains and thinking that it should be that easy for everyone.

I’m not going to say that it wouldn’t be lovely to pop out of the hospital at my pre-pregnancy weight, with everyone telling me that I look fab. But it’s just not going to happen—and it shouldn’t. First of all, you spend a good portion of a year putting on the weight, so it makes sense that it would take some time to take it off again. (Check out where all of that poundage is going.) Second, while I expect breastfeeding to help with weight-loss, it’s not going to be a cure-all—and there are bound to be times when I’m sleep deprived and exhausted and I don’t have time to cook the healthiest meal. And third: It’s not like I’m going to be out running marathons immediately after giving birth.

We need to stop expecting moms to pull a Heidi Klum—most of us aren’t going to be bikini or runway-ready a month post-partum. And we need to remember how hard those new moms are working—and how much airbrushing is going into those post-baby-body photos. Better yet, do me a favor: Stop buying those magazines!

For me, I plan to treat my post-baby body the same as I’ve treated it while pregnant: with kindness and patience. Even though I look upon the stretch marks that are surely coming with dread, I know I’m putting my body through all of this for a good cause. How about you? How do you feel about your pregnancy or post-pregnancy bod? —Erin

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