Bouncing Forward into Postpartum
What do you think of when you hear the words ‘postpartum body’? Did you have a loving relationship with your own body after you gave birth? The most common answer to these questions are “bouncing back” and “no”; with most setting their goal at getting their pre-baby body back as quickly as possible post birth.
Postpartum is defined as the first 6 six weeks after a woman has given birth, and it has become society’s accepted expectation for a postpartum woman to “snap back” her body after those 6 weeks are through. Modern motherhood has played a part in shaping this societal expectation more than ever before with oversharing of carefully crafted images on social media, comparing our own postpartum body to those of celebrity’s with personal trainers and chefs, and placing our own expectations of having to “fit the mould” of a certain body type to be crowned as a good mother.
This is not a realistic measure of motherhood. Full stop. A postpartum mother has been forever changed, not just physically by stretch marks and extra kilos; but mentally, spiritually and emotionally. A woman’s body has grown and carried life for months, given birth (some experiencing great trauma in the process), and very quickly had to learn to adapt to a new schedule of feeding, (lack of) sleeping, and changes to her own body. Some new mums are faced with the added battle of postnatal depression and anxiety. Some of the wonderful women who participated in the shoot, themselves wanted to use the opportunity to stand up and say there is help, support, and a village who will come together and be there for you.
This #bounceforwardintopostpartum movement was the brainchild of Sharnah @thepeacefulhomemaker who wanted to put the postpartum experience in the spotlight and take back the power of postpartum. Sharnah and I first met in April, during a family lifestyle session where there was an immediate forging of a friendship, and a mutual respect. I loved that Sharnah has such a real and raw take on motherhood, she was able to share the good with the bad, to simply put it out there that motherhood is challenging. Sharnah shared her reason for wanting to create this Postpartum Movement, "We were never meant to bounce back. We bounce forward, forward into motherhood. Our bodies are just like art, no two are the same. That is what makes them unique and valuable. Remember you were not meant to be like anyone else. Our differences is what makes us beautiful. Every curve, bump, mark is your beauty".
The shoot took place on a freezing cold Melbourne day at Altona Beach, where these fearless women braved the weather and stood together in unity to share their message of ‘bouncing forward’ into motherhood, into their new life, into acceptance and self love of their postpartum body. To be able to share with other women, with the next generation and their fellow mums who maybe struggling through the postpartum period that they are not alone – every wobbly tum and bum, every stretch mark, every lump and bump should be celebrated.
The reality is motherhood is messy, chaotic, filled with mum buns, milk stained clothes, and spit up; but above all it is magical, wonderful, filled with love and completely life changing in the best way possible! So, if you have been looking for a sign to accept your new body, love your curves and reject the expectation of bouncing back – this is it! Bounce forward and love every new inch of your wonderful body, it has created new life and that is the greatest thing in the world. Together we will #takebackpostpartum
"The reason I wanted to be a part of the postpartum photos was because I am the most comfortable and confident I have ever been with my body since having children. It may not be what everyone considers perfect but it's made two beautiful babies. I want to show how proud and confident I am so that hopefully my children grow up feeling the same about themselves."
"My second pregnancy was hard. Mentally and physically hard. When I had the opportunity to be involved in a photoshoot celebrating postpartum bodies, I jumped at the chance. No matter what our bodies look like, we all deserve to feel special. As mothers, we've been through so much, and deserve to be celebrated."
"I really wanted to get involved because it was something completely out of my comfort zone. After losing 65kg and then just giving birth 5 weeks ago I really wanted to share my body to encourage other women to love themselves and the skin they are in."