For most of us, "debuting" our post-baby bodies looks a little more like sharing a blissed-out-but-exhausted first family photo with our select Facebook friends. Even then, let's be honest, everyone is just looking at the baby.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are moms like Kate Middleton or Khloe Kardashian who are hounded for photographs that are then viewed worldwide.

Honestly, what it would be like to have your postpartum body viewed scrutinized by millions of people is seriously beyond my comprehension. So when Kardashian admitted in a new blog post that she "couldn't believe" how she looked in post-baby paparazzi pictures and can't wait to "get my body back to where it was," there's nothing wrong with feeling that way. That is her authentic experience and she has every right to it. I, for one, don't know anything about the pressure she's under.


But one truth that's important for her—and all of us—to keep in mind is this: Every mama's body changes differently during and after pregnancy.

This should come as no surprise, considering bodies always come in different shapes and sizes. Yet, there seems to be some kind of cognitive dissonance between this fact and the uniform expectation on how women's bodies should "bounce back" after childbirth: lose the weight, lose the hips, lose the maternity pants—pronto.

Not only is this unrealistic for the vast majority of us, but it's also unfortunate. These "post-baby bodies" of ours were celebrated for, give or take, 40 weeks. Then the script immediately flips and we have to stop acknowledging how incredible they are?

What if, instead, we made a point of continuing to celebrate postpartum bodies—not for some miraculous reversion to the way they looked before, but for the way they are forever changed by serving as our babies' first homes?

While we're at it, let's remember that no matter how bodies look outwardly, it takes mamas a while to feel settled into their new normal. After all, there is still a lot going on inside—physically, mentally and emotionally—after baby arrives. According to one survey, it takes new moms an average of 22 weeks to feel "normal" physically after childbirth and a full 24 weeks before they feel "normal" emotionally.

Note the apostrophes around "normal." It doesn't mean that our bodies and mindsets will be exactly as they were before pregnancy. But it can mean they are even better. For evidence of that, look no further than the baby your body fostered and nourished—which is why some two-in-three new moms say they ultimately feel more confident with their bodies than they did before pregnancy.

None of this—from the way our bodies recover to the way our perspectives shift—happens overnight. However, a day will probably come when you look back and recognize that "bouncing back" wasn't nearly as important as bouncing ahead into this incredible new role of mama.

You might also like:

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners