Social media can be a minefield for women and their body image, particularly fragile new mums in the throes of postpartum recovery. For every Chrissy Teigen and Tiffiny Hall being inspiringly sincere about their swollen and stiched skin, there’s a Kardashian (or four) showing off ripped, stretch mark-free stomachs just seconds after child birth.
That’s why the @takebackpostpartum Instagram account is a must-follow for all mums. The page, which is run by mother-of-six January Harshe, shares deeply personal and poignant posts sharing a diversity of postpartum bodies and the stories behind them.
From stretch marks to mental health, it’s an honest, supportive and inspiring space that is doing its part to remove the pressure mums feel to “bounce back” in any form.
“Postpartum is a quest back to yourself,” Jessica Screeton writes in one post. “Alone in your body again. You will never be the same, you are stronger than you were.”
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“Mummy tummy (yes women grow body hair too). Someone recently said to me that I’d be able to get rid of my tummy pouch, I just wasn’t working hard enough, if I exercised more, and if I was stricter with what I ate I’d have a flat stomach again. Although it didn’t upset or affect the way I feel about my body, I believe it needs to be addressed nonetheless. _ My “tummy pooch” is a byproduct of three things- loose skin, an ab separation, and adhesions causing my scar to be pulled inwards (creating a dip.) It has nothing to do with my overall weight. LOTS of mothers wear marks from pregnancy and child birth and i’s a MISCONCEPTION that you can get rid of these marks through diet or exercise. You cannot starve your way to taut skin. Nor can you exercise away indented scars. Yes, you can work towards getting your stomach as flat as possible if that’s what you want, but these unrealistic expectations can be harmful. _ It’s ok to bare the marks of your pregnancy and birth proudly. The same as it’s ok to feel a little bit upset and like a stranger in your new body. It’s human. Learning to accept and love yourself as you are is a process- it’s ok if you’re not quite there yet. It’s also ok to work towards personal body goals, working out and eating healthily to sculpt your body in a particular way doesn’t mean that you have to hate the body you’re in now. On the contrary. It’s all about doing what makes you feel happy and accomplished. _ What is NEVER ok is someone telling you that you should work harder to attain an unachievable body image- so that you might fit THEIR expectations of what the female body should look like. That shit needs to be shut down immediately. If someone can’t accept your postpartum body or encourages you to change any aspect of the way you look because they don’t feel comfortable with it- that is THEIR problem, THEIR issue that needs to be worked on. It ultimately stems from their own insecurities. _ Never allow someone to make you feel bad about your body and never apologise for your body. Your body created life! If that’s not something to be proud of, to be in absolute awe of, then I don’t know what is!” @mamaclog #takebackpostpartum
“I spent Mothers Day blissfully disconnected with all my boys. ? Instead of posting a done up photo depicting the highlight reel version of motherhood, I wanted to share this picture… because THIS is motherhood. This picture was taken hours after Cash arrived & it shows the reality of how much your mind, body & soul change after bringing life into the world. Stretch marks, saggy skin, exhaustion, a body that will never be the same… but 1000% worth it for the reward I received. ? To all you beautiful mamas out there rocking the body motherhood gave you!” ?? @mandi_kamp #takebackpostpartum #birthwithoutfear #postpartum #honestmotherhood . Image belongs to the person tagged. Do not alter or use without their permission.
"When you’re a bigger woman, somehow it makes certain people think you don’t deserve to say you have a “real” postpartum body. . THIS. IS. FALSE. . You grew a human. You birthed a human, whether they came out of your lady bits or through surgery. You have a postpartum body. Period. End of story. It doesn’t matter what that body looks like. There is no definition of what a postpartum body is supposed to look like, contrary to what some people will try and force you to believe. You will see women who have no marks, or have 50. You will see women whose stomachs went right back to being smooth and flat, or hang down with loose skin. You will see women who have lots of fat on their bellies, or who have none. You will see women who were in great shape and toned when they got pregnant and women who were considered “plus size” when they got pregnant. Some women stayed in shape through pregnancy while others gained weight. But what do all of these women have in common after birthing these adorable humans? . They. Have. A. Postpartum. Body. . They have a story. Their story matters and it counts. They can post the photo if they want to. And not every photo will look the same. I am SO DONE with hearing that certain women aren’t allowed to consider their body a “real” postpartum body and post their love for it. . So here it is. Another lovely photo of my postpartum body." @meg.boggs . . . Image belongs to the person tagged. Do not alter or use without their permission. #postpartum #reallife #momlife #birthwithoutfear #takebackpostpartum
"To all the women today who are mamas – you are stunning. Wear your stripes proudly. May our daughters only hear us speak positively about our bodies and how they’ve changed because we carried them. May they be raised in households where they are delighted in, celebrated, and cherished always and not based on their outward appearance. Speak life into their hearts." ❤️ @jenn.newm . . . Image belongs to the person tagged. Do not alter or use without their permission. #postpartum #reallife #momlife #birthwithoutfear #takebackpostpartum #postpartumbody
"Well, I know a lot of you guys are probably thinking 'why would she post this picture', but, it took me 18 months to get here, 18 months to not cry when I look in the mirror, 18 months to finally feel beautiful in my own skin again! No one warns you about the dark sides of motherhood and pregnancy.. no one gives you a heads up on how much you change physically and mentally after you become a mother. It's been a long and hard postpartum ride for me.. 18 months after my first son and 5 months after my second son I feel like I can finally see the light ✨ and it genuinely feels amazing. ? Cheers to you mamas who are battling postpartum depression and still getting up everyday for your children! Cheers to you mamas who still cry about the marks on your skin from birthing your perfect babies! Cheer to motherhood, cheers to knowing that this too shall pass! And things will get better." ? @alexandrabrea_ ©2017 by Alexandra Kilmurray All rights reserved _ #motherhood #postpartum #postpartumdepression #babies #takebackpostpartum
This looks like a painting! It should be titled "the postpartum family" in hopes we can all have this love through the chaos and newness. I'd love to see a series of different families for #variationsofnormal of "the postpartum family"! ? Image by @ellianagilbertphotography. #dontforgetdads #birthwithoutfear #takebackpostpartum
“When I was pregnant with Paisley, there was always one thing that I would obsess about that scared me more than giving birth for the first time, #postpartum #depression. I would lay awake at night in fear of what emotions I would have after having her. Would I love her? Would I hate her? Would I feel resentment for what my body just went through? These are all very real thoughts that I had and I couldn’t get them out of my head. After dealing with depression and #anxiety my entire life, I was certain that going through it postpartum was inevitable. Then I had her and I felt….fine. In fact, I felt better than I had in my entire life. I felt happy and strong and powerful like I had just done something no other human ever could. Maybe it was just the #oxytocin talking but it was a feeling like I was floating on a cloud. Then days and weeks and months went by and the exhaustion finally set in. Around 6 months postpartum I started feeling defeated. Like if I didn’t get some kind of break soon then I would end up breaking myself. I remember sitting in my truck, tears streaming down my face because Paisley did a number of things that day that made me question whether or not I was a good mom. I felt this way for a couple weeks and then I finally was able to pull myself out of it. I’m not a doctor so I’m not sure if it was #PPD or not, but what I do know is that whatever you’re going through be it exhaustion, PPD, #PPA or even just feeling tired—you are GOING to get through this. Ask someone for help. Tell them you need their support. Take some time to practice self love and self care. You can’t pour from an empty glass. I know it’s hard, but you aren’t alone and you should never feel like you aren’t worthy enough to get the help you need. You are beyond worthy. You are the warrior goddess Mama that birthed that beautiful baby and you deserve every ounce of support and love that you can get. Don’t give up.” ? @chloeandpaisley . . . Image belongs to the person tagged. Do not alter or use without their permission. #postpartum #birthwithoutfear #takebackpostpartum #motherhood #selflove #selfcare
You can see more from this incredible account here.
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