Becoming a mom means receiving and managing the unexpected. Even the pregnancy could be unplanned. There are a few things we do expect once we know we are pregnant:
- We will be nauseous.
- We will have trouble breathing.
- Our lives will never be the same.
- Our lives will never be OUR lives again.
- Our bodies will not belong to us for 4 months to 7 years, if you are breastfeeding.
- Our bodies will “never” be the same again.
The last one, “Our bodies will never be the same again,” is the one thing most of us expect, unhappily. We dream our bodies will return to normal like those Hollywood stars displayed in the media. However, there are so many aspects that affect us: age, pre-pregnancy weight, weight gained in pregnancy, lifestyle, genetics, etc…
To have a body like our Hollywood inspirations, we need to be fiscally privileged. Our stars have the money to afford private chefs, private trainers, nannies, cleaners and everything else one would need to separate from your child long enough to ensure self care. The rest of us are running to work, passing our lovers like ships in the night, sleep deprived, stressed, distressed, depressed, anxious and everything else one would expect from not having the financial ability to ensure self care.
Recently, Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, posted a article, “The Realistic Skinny on Moms, Pregnancy and Weight Gain,” on the Huffington Post. In this post he highlights Heidi Klum and her ability to return to Victoria Secret runway work just a few weeks after delivering her second child and again after her fourth.
Dr. Braunstein, used Heidi Klum as an expample of how we as women feel added pressure and shame to be perfect. He reminds us that although none of us are perfect, nor should we force ourselves to be, we should be healthy. Dr. Braunstein highlighted the importance the Medical establishment and we as a society play in reminding one another, gently and compassionately, what it means for us to maintain our physical self care.
He does not focus heavily on those of us that get chubby: over 50% of us gain more than we are “supposed to.” He is more concerned with the effects of being underweight and obesity has on our mothers, highlighting a major study of over obese 1,600 mothers.
Obesity and other maternal metabolic conditions not only affect the mothers, but our children as well. A study displayed an increased likelihood of mothers with metabolic conditions are more likely to have children with autism and twice as likely to have developmental delays.
Dr. Braunstein also highlights the dangers of mothers being underweight and therefore being unable to provide nutritionally for their developing child. If we are underweight we are likely to suffer anemia, perinatal mortality and have pre-term and or a low-birth-weight baby. Low-birth-weight babies weigh less than 5 lbs 6 oz and are at a greater risk to suffer neurodevelopmental and lower respiratory tract conditions.
As a mental health professional, I understand hearing about this from our doctor can give us the extra umph, but it might not make us drink the water of health. There is often a lot emotionally associated with weight and sometimes after many attempts we are disheartened and don’t know what to do. I have had many people near and dear to me choose to have surgery because of their weight. I have also been part of the group that had my own personal struggle with eating. Eating is good, it feels good, it provides, but everything needs to be balanced.
As moms-to-be or moms, it is our job to provide. This means providing for ourselves a healthy body that is created consciously and thoughtfully. If you are struggling with this and need some support here are a few good links of places to try:
About the author
Melissa Kester, MA, LMFT, Founder and Director of Madison Marriage and Family Therapy, PC in New York City. She has served on the NYS Division Board for AAMFTas Metro Chapter President and Student/Associate Representative. Melissa has also been an adjunct instructor at Hunter College, teaching Graduate Students Family Systems Counseling. She is the editor for Towards Healing.