It’s hard enough to have a baby without having to navigate the myths and misinformation surrounding pregnancy, but Australian mother of three Elise Grossman is doing something about it.
One of those myths is that once you’ve had the baby, your body quickly “bounce back” to its pre-baby form as if the pregnancy never even happened. As most mothers find out, this isn’t remotely true. And really, why would it be? Your body has gone through and is still going through MASSIVE changes, and it’s going to reflect that. It’s not going to magically remove all signs you had a baby!
But celebrity and parenting culture both do their part to reinforce this myth, and after Grossman had her third baby, she decided to speak up. In an Instagram post that’s since gone viral, Grossman posted a picture of exactly what her post-baby body looks like:
Let’s talk postpartum bodies! I asked @belleverdiglionephotography to take this photo, just hours after giving birth to Willa, in my rawest and most vulnerable state. I was in pain and I was overcome by a flood of emotions. Elated to have welcomed our beautiful girl and so empowered and proud of what my body and I had just done! It’s a strange feeling to look down and still see a bump, even though you’re holding your baby in your arms, even after doing it three times. It’s not easy to go home with a baby and still have to wear maternity clothes. With my first I was adamant I would just “bounce back”. Everyone would say “you’re young, you’ll loose the baby weight in no time!” But you know what, I didn’t, I never have in fact. With each baby I’ve gained a few more kilos and a few more stretch marks. I used to feel the need to cover up in this newborn stage, I didn’t want to see my body in this state, so why would anyone else? It’s taken me three babies, but I’ve finally realised this postpartum body isn’t something to hide! I am beyond proud for what this body has given and sacralised. I am thankful that my body is able to carry and birth babies naturally. I am NOT ashamed of my (many) new stripes and my postpartum body. And neither should you! Let’s celebrate postpartum bodies, in all their glory. The female body is incredible and I am so proud of what mine has done!
The post resonated with moms and moms-to-be, who shared their own experiences with post-baby-bump difficulties:
But even though most of the reactions were positive, some questioned Grossman’s motives in sharing her photo. (After all, this is the Internet, where everyone’s gotta have an ulterior motive.) So Grossman posted a second time to clarify things.
My post labour photo has been shared a few times on the internet this past week. And although I received a huge amount of support and had so many mothers share their own postpartum stories, I also saw many people question my decision to share such a personal photo publicly on the internet. So I thought I’d explain why. When I was pregnant with Peyton I really had no idea what post birth was really like, and you don’t fully understand until you actually have a baby! I was one of the first of my friends to get pregnant, so I didn’t have that support group to ask all those TMI questions about pregnancy and birth. My doctor was more concerned about setting a medically unnecessary induction date rather than explaining to me what post birth would be like! No one told me the reality of the fourth trimester. I had no idea you could still look so pregnant even after giving birth. Everyone told me I was young, I would bounce straight back, and I believed them. Just like many women do, I too used to look up to the media, celebrities who would show off their supermodel like post baby bodies just weeks after giving birth! I thought thats how it would be for me too. So when I went home from hospital four days after giving birth, still looking six months pregnant, I thought I must have done something wrong. How come I didn’t look like they did post baby? How come I didn’t bounce back straight away like everyone said I would? How come it took me a year to fit back into my pre baby jeans? Well, because for many women, and for me, this post baby picture that was painted in my head just wasn’t realistic! There’s so much pressure from society and from ourselves to look a certain way post baby, but for many that’s not the case, and that’s ok! I posted that photo because I wish someone had posted a photo just like mine when I was pregnant. I wish that someone had told me what realistically might happen to my body and to my mind. The fourth trimester is such a taboo topic. I want other mums also walking in my shoes to know that they’re not alone. That whatever their postpartum journey may be, it’s ok, it’s normal and it should always be priaised! I did it for me, for you and for her!
That’s a good response, but my favorite part is how she chose a closeup photo of her post-baby bump to really rub it in the haters’ faces. Strong work.
And hey, if that wasn’t enough honesty for you, Grossman also shared a family photo everyone took with the new baby.
Because nothing says “family photo” like two of the kids visibly wishing they were anywhere else.