You Look Great…for Just Having a Baby

We’ve all heard it, “You look great… for just having a baby/for having X amount of kids/for being a mom.” We’ve heard it either from the barista at Starbucks who “compliments” a new mother on her postpartum body. Maybe while at the park, you overheard someone say it to a mother of three under three! Maybe you’ve even said it…I know I have. I mean it is a compliment, right?! Or is it? 
As mothers, an identity that is created by the presence of another life—are we not more than how our postpartum body looks? The easy answer is yes, of course we are! Then why, as a society, do we focus so much on losing the baby weight? Not just losing the baby weight, but losing it quickly!
For nine months, mothers sacrifice our bodies for our babies. Our bodies stretch, grow, and hormonally change in ways that are still unknown and being researched by science today. So the fact that society is setting expectations for new mothers to be back in those pre-pregnancy jeans at 6, 8, 12 weeks postpartum is not only harmful to our psyche as individuals but also harmful to our new role in motherhood. 

Welcome To Motherhood

In addition to bringing in an entirely new person(s) into the world, we mothers also experience various hormonal changes, getting little to no sleep, figuring out feeding, diapering, and overall care for our new baby. Little self care, if any, is done during this time for ourselves. Of course though, we do not hesitate to sacrifice that (and anything else) for our baby.

Something to ask though, does a new mother look “so great” because she’s back in her pre-pregnancy jeans just a few weeks postpartum? Maybe that’s because she has no time or energy to eat and take proper care of herself. When taking care of a newborn becomes all consuming and no one is checking in on or helping the new mother then yes, she might lose that baby weight rather quickly.

She might be asked, “How did you lose it so quickly? You were SO BIG during pregnancy!” focusing in even more on her weight and body. Why does having a baby (beginning with pregnancy) give someone a pass to discuss a new mother’s body and weight?

Why does having a baby give someone a pass to discuss a new mother’s body and weight?

Offering an Alternative

I realize that many mothers work very hard to get back into their pre-pregnancy clothes. There are literally hundreds of postpartum workout videos just on YouTube and equal amounts of diets to get back in those pre-pregnancy jeans. So, I don’t want to discourage those type of compliments altogether. I am, however, suggesting if you don’t know the mother’s story, then avoid discussing her postpartum body.

Let’s change the narrative. As women and mothers, we deserve the focus to be on our new role of motherhood, not on our bodies. So if you see a new mother out with her baby, don’t pay her the loaded compliment, “You look great… for just having a new baby.”

Instead, try some open-ended questions that don’t focus on a mother’s postpartum body, but rather, her new role as a mother:

• How is motherhood?
• What has been the most challenging aspect of it?
• What has been the best aspect of it?

Don’t have time to chat with a new mom? Then simply give your congratulations on her new baby and let the rest be.

Lydia is originally from Colorado but moved to Texas as a young child where she grew up. She recently moved to McKinney where she lives with her husband, Jorge and 15 month old son, Alexander. Lydia graduated from UNT with a BBA in Finance and worked as a Financial Analyst for a telecommunications company prior to having her son. She now stays home with her son and enjoys all the new challenges that come with motherhood. Lydia currently volunteers on a marketing committee for the Free Forest School organization. An organization she and her son both enjoy. She loves their message— get out and play! When Lydia has a free moment you can find her either passionately writing, involved in her photography or at her local Barre class.