A powerful video from non-profit organisation, Postpartum Progress, shows the different faces of postpartum depression from real women experiencing the illness. The collaborative effort between the organisation and Baby Rabies blogger Jill Krause, shows a group of mothers candidly sharing their experiences with postpartum depression with the aims of ending the stigma associated with perinatal mood disorders.
Krause has told The Huffington Post, “We are working to erase the stigma of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and to let people know where moms can start to find help.”
This video is incredibly important because it opens up the public discussion of postpartum mood disorders on a major scale and will hopefully encourage widespread discussion between mothers who were previously uncomfortable to do so.
The women in the video maintain that their feelings of despair and frustration are completely unrelated to their love for their children. They also all agree that they are better parents, not in spite, but because of their struggles.
As one mother states, “I am a good mother… even with postpartum depression.”
…because there is always #BeautyInTheMess
“Mom Is A Dirty Word”, a documentary by Samantha Rife which was previously discussed in this post, addresses the difficult balancing act that many new mothers are faced with. Rife examines the “Mommy Wars” argument of choosing to be a ‘stay-at-home’ mum and ‘career’ mum.
Due to disproportionate societal expectations of child rearing responsibilities for women and men, working mothers often face unnecessary pressures regarding their work-life balance, resulting in feelings of guilt and stress.
With her documentary, Rife aims to target the hypocrisies in American culture and public policy surrounding working mothers, with the aims of initiating governmental support for mums and families, such as, paid maternity leave and equitable business practices.
Fortunately, for expecting mothers in Australia, paid parental leave entitlements have been available since January 2011. The paid maternity and paternity leave scheme in Australia is government-funded, giving the main carer 18 weeks Parental Leave Pay at the National Minimum Wage. This scheme is incredibly helpful in allowing mothers to maintain their career and income whilst caring for their child, therefore aiding the difficult decision between returning to work and being a stay-at-home mum.
‘The Honest Body Project’, created by photographer, Natalie McCain, explores postpartum body image in an authentic and candid way. McCain has aimed to shift the societal postpartum discussion from how mothers intend to return to their pre-pregnancy bodies (and as swiftly as possible) to simply embracing the wonder of what those bodies have done.
The ‘After the Baby Is Born’ series not only focuses on the unique body of shapes of women post-delivery but refers back to the intimate connection between mother and child. McCain has stated her objective of the beautiful photo series was to put an end to the pressure faced by new mothers to return to the bodies that had before conceiving.
“Society puts so much pressure on women to ‘bounce back’ after giving birth and I want to help break that cycle…These women are baring their hearts and souls to help show the variations of bodies after giving birth.”
In an interview with Huffington Post, McCain stated that it is unlikely for women to “bounce back” in the ways celebrities do and as portrayed in the media. “Some women certainly do slim down quickly after birth, but this isn’t the norm for most mothers.” Nor does it have to be. If it is, terrific. And if it’s not, well, that’s also terrific.”
Below are the beautiful images from McCain’s series, ‘After The Baby Is Born‘.
Photos from Fit Pregnancy
Flick through any tabloid or gossip magazine and chances are you’ll be inundated with articles discussing celebrities’ weight. Not only that, but celebrities’ postpartum weight. We are bombarded with amazing celebrity postpartum transformations and weight losses in the mass media and this unfortunately, this often dictates the societal expectations of body image for mothers after giving birth. What is omitted from these articles is that although these transformations are possible, they are not realistic or common. The celebrities that are applauded in magazines for swift transformations after delivering often receive assistance in the form of personal trainers, dieticians and nannies…luxuries that most mothers are not privy to.
The media obsession with women’s postpartum bodies, which constantly calls our attention to the figures of new celebrities mothers such as Beyonce and Kim Kardashian, is feeding a social fixation that needs to be stopped.
What exactly have all these women’s bodies been “taken” by?
Instead of the highly-retouched images seen above, we need the media to broadcast more realistic images of postpartum bodies, like the following image published by Taryn Brumfitt, found of Body Image Movement.
Image from theglow.com.au
Following up from this post, here is a wonderful post from the Scary Mommy website, “4 Truths About Out Post-Baby Bodies“.
The article, written by Lisa Sadikman, is inspiring and perfectly sums up what The Modern Motherhood Project is about – seeing that there is beauty in every aspect of motherhood. In the article, Sadikman tells her readers what she wants them to know about post-baby bodies.
Below is a powerful excerpt from Sadikman’s article that shows that post-baby body pressure is something that not only mothers but society needs to rise above. A mother’s body is worth far more than its appearance and it’s important to recognise the amazing things its capable of during and after pregnancy. We need to realise that despite the chaos, beauty is always present in motherhood, it is just up to us to find it.
“Your body will do amazing things you never dreamed it could do. Your body will not fail you as you get up for the fourth time in the middle of the night to feed a hungry baby. You will be able to hold an infant or a 1-year-old or a toddler for ridiculously long periods of time — cuddling, soothing, shushing — and your biceps will grow strong and defined from it. Your core will tighten and hold you firmly in place as you lift your child from the crib or catch her as she jumps from the bed into your arms. I didn’t know how fast I could sprint until my toddler slipped from my grip and darted towards the parking lot. You will surprise yourself. Marvel over what you are capable of with this new mama body.
Beauty is where you find it. The talk about post-pregnancy beauty is relentless. We get it: yes, our bodies have sagged and crinkled and jellied and no, that doesn’t mean we’re suddenly ugly, but we each catalogue those changes with varying degrees of self-acceptance. Our body-obsessed culture doesn’t help prepare us for our newly hewn post-baby bodies or feel good about them. The challenge is to blow all of that off and realize it’s not just our bodies that have changed. The way we view the world is different too. Beauty abounds in the most unexpected places, making the minor and mundane suddenly magnificent. I remember looking at my daughter’s impossibly long eyelashes as she slept thinking they were the most gorgeous things I’d ever seen. And who hasn’t called their new baby’s poop beautiful? The trick is to include yourself in this expanded version of beauty: the soft lines around your eyes, whether from smiling or lack of sleep, make you more interesting. Your rarely used singing voice now sounds sublime as you soothe your child to sleep. And that rounder booty? It’s hot. Period.”
…because there is always #BeautyInTheMess
Michelle Bridges proudly shows off her beautiful baby bump (Image from smh.com.au)
From stretch marks to leaky boobs to a few extra pounds on the scale, the “post-baby body” is undoubtedly an issue that crosses many expecting mothers’ minds.
Michelle Bridges, trainer on Australia’s The Biggest Loser, did something pretty important for postpartum body image when making a rare appearance on Channel 10’s The Project last month.
When asked about how her fitness routine fit into her new phase of life, Bridges made it clear where her priorities laid and that was with simply enjoying her time as a new mother with her child. Rejecting the strain women feel to get fit after giving birth, Bridges stated, “I’m pretty clear cut about that. I don’t accept the pressure…I get it that it’s around and some women do feel that pressure, but I’m also just looking forward to spending time with my baby.”
“My fitness will come, this is a different chapter in my life right now and I’m relishing it…I’ll get back into training in my own time and at my own pace.”
What Michelle Bridges has stated about doing things at her own pace and time is important. Through all the societal pressure on mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weights after delivering, it’s easy to forget that their bodies belong to themselves and no one else.
And what their bodies are doing is something amazing – creating life. And after that, their bodies are feeding and nursing and nurturing that life for years. In comparison, it’s difficult to see how not being able to button that one last button would even matter.