A few weeks ago, I tagged one of my clients in a birth photograph I shared on my instagram account (@cordmamas). We have well over 15,000 followers, so the likes and comments poured in. I later learned that my client received numerous "follow" requests from women selling weight loss wraps and diets. To say this made me mad is an understatement.
As many of you know, I suffered from an eating disorder for almost a decade. I lost a lot of living during those years, but eventually found redemption and healing. I reclaimed both my life and my body, and in the process fell in love with birth and the female body.
I now capture women using their bodies in the most incredible, awe-inspiring ways. I watch muscles contract, vaginas open, breasts nourish. I see women with all body types birth beautiful babies, and I further banish the pervasive myth that there is one right way for a body to look.
And so when I learned that weight loss saleswomen were targeting my birth clients, I got very angry. Why do we as a culture teach our daughters, sisters, and friends that as soon as baby arrives, weight loss and dieting and restriction is necessary? Why do we perpetuate the myth that the postpartum body needs fixing?
Birth has taught me many many things about a woman's body (and guess what, weight loss isn't on the radar).
1. Our bodies are powerful.
To see a woman give birth is to see power in its purest form. We live in a culture that idolizes power. Physical power. Political power. Cultural power. And yet most of these manifestations of power are corrupted by ego. But when a women gives birth, there is no room for ego. There is no room for anything but the baby that is moving and opening and stretching every part of her. The strength it takes to birth a baby is otherworldly, and I see it day after day in birthing rooms. Sometimes it manifests in a mighty roar, other times it's silent and can only be perceived in a furrowed brow. But despite how it happens, we women birth our babies in strength.
2. Our bodies are mysterious.
You can't work in the birth world for long before recognizing and honoring the mystery of a woman's body. To conceive a child, to nurture its hidden growth, to let life unfold...it's a beautiful mystery that we only partially understand.
I've seen women go from 2 centimeters to 10 centimeters in 45 minutes. I've seen women get stuck in transition for hours. I've seen women push their first baby out in 15 minutes. I've seen fourth time moms push for hours. I pity the person who believes they can put a number or an outcome expectation on a woman! Our bodies work in mysterious ways.
And then, sometimes, the mystery can be heartbreaking. I meet women who can't conceive. I meet women who lose babies. I meet women who can't birth the way they want to birth. And most of the time, the reasons are unknown. I've learned that sometimes the best thing we can offer hurting women is to sit with them in both wondrous and heartbreaking mystery, to allow the answers to be unclear.
3. Our bodies are beautiful.
My stomach will never be flat again. It housed my daughter, my beautiful and vivacious daughter, and I celebrate that mysterious time each time I see the physical reminders. Women, our bodies will never be the same again. Nor should they. We grew and protected and birthed a human being. Our bodies stretched and grew and opened. We birthed in power. Instead of trying to hide the reminders of your journey, let's learn to celebrate them. To walk out of the hospital, our of the fourth trimester, out of the first year with pride in our bodies. Our bodies are beautiful, and they should reflect our journeys.
So weight loss folks, please stay away from cord mamas. We're fine just the way we are.