Mummy branding and pressure to get back in shape
Find out why our fitness expert, Wendy Macleod, loves working with new mums and hates the pressure put on women to bounce back into shape.
Helping new mums regain their pre natal fitness and wellbeing following the birth of their baby, is a huge passion for me. I love working with new mums and babies. Being involved with post natal women has truly allowed me to find my vocation and I can’t imagine not always working with this client group throughout my fitness career, in the future.
On those skinny jeans
Most of you reading this are mums and that makes you my favourite client group. I love working with you, not because I want to be known for how quickly I can help you get back into your skinny jeans, but more importantly, because I believe exercise and the friendship of other new mums helps you ‘feel human again’ after having a baby.
Regaining pre-pregnancy weight/shape/size needs to happen at a pace that is suited to your schedule and situation. I coach women and educate them on the importance of achieving their fitness goals over time. But, what I’m really getting at, is women (me included) do feel the pressure to snap back into shape following childbirth.
Hands up – who feels the pressure?
Even if we don’t want to admit to feeling pressurised, I think most of us do a little. It all goes hand in hand with the many pressures women face now. Going back to work, running a business, being a mum, housewife and looking great – it all takes up a lot of time and energy! No wonder we end up feeling more super tired than supermum!
The various ways in which women are branded and effectively put into a box these days doesn’t help. We’ve had ‘Hipster parenting’; ‘Yummy Mummy’ and the latest which on discovering almost made me choke on my morning muesli – ‘The Momshell.’
The name speaks for itself. ‘Mother-as-bombshell’ who has bounced right back into her lifestyle or career with no sign of baby weight. Take the following headlines;
- Miranda Kerr snaps back into svelte pre-pregancy shape
- Victoria Beckham appears at New York fashion week in one of her bodycon frocks
- Beyoncé drops 60lb within weeks of delivering daughter Blue Ivy
Of course, these are ‘headlines’ aimed to grab your attention. Celebrities grab headlines and photos of glamorous mums and cute newborns sell magazines. Many celebrities see it as ‘their job’ to look good and they have the resources to help them do it.
Some celebrities are reported to spend 6 hours a day in the gym in the very early post natal stages. Apart from the practical implications like when would you feed your baby? This is so harmful to a post natal woman’s body and could even affect her chances of having a healthy pregnancy in the future. But again celebs and cute babies sell, so what does the media care about the pshychological impact on new mums.
I took part in an interesting radio chat on this topic recently and think it’s quite incredible how the media feels it has a right to brand women. Women who have for 9 months, grown a baby, given birth, some suffered health scares throughout their pregnancy and then undergone what seems like a 5 day labour only to be told in not so many words that if they don’t comply with the ‘Momshell’ description at the end of it all they’ve somehow failed.
Most of us know that we shouldn’t take mummy branding seriously. We know that the only thing that really matters is the safe arrival of our precious new baby. On a minor level it is irritating. But, I am conscious that ever present images of perfect ‘photoshoped’ mums with cute weeks old babies may seep into new mums minds at a time in their life when they are feeling particularly vulnerable or unsure of their role as new mum.
It’s all about you!
So my message for this feature is not to lecture you on how quickly you should be getting your gym kit back on, or even what exercises are best for getting rid of the ‘baby belly’ (yet another term I hate) but to start with a sensible fitness and wellbeing plan that is realistic in terms of time frame for you and your baby.
If we are going to put any type of pressure on new Mums, it should perhaps be to have a new found respect for the physiological changes that have occurred and continue to occur within our bodies during pregnancy and beyond. All women’s physiology changes dramatically following childbirth and it takes time, and indeed nurture to bring it back to its previously strong, healthy state.
So absolutely look forward to feeling fit again, set positive fitness goals, aim to get back into an old favourite pair of jeans again – that’s great. But do it within a sensible time frame, perhaps with a good pre/post natal trainer and make that your only pressure… certainly in those first few post natal