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Women agree: Can we cut it with the ‘bouncing back’ after pregnancy stories?

Those unrealistic postpartum body stories aren’t really good for anyone. ?

Women agree: Can we cut it with the ‘bouncing back’ after pregnancy stories?

The ability of a woman’s body to make an entire human being is pretty amazing. Yet, many of forms of media instead share unrealistic “before and afters"—and it turns out we really aren’t here for it: According to a new study, women would rather see examples of real pregnant and postpartum bodies than celebrities lauded for losing baby weight.


That means content creators need to focus less on post-baby bikinis and more on that post-baby life we’re all living—stretch marks and all.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Illinois and Brigham Young University, found 46 percent of moms surveyed said unrealistic images of toned women who “bounced back” weeks after childbirth just left them feeling depressed, frustrated and hopeless about their own post-birth physiques.

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The research backs up an old saying that’s seen a resurgence in the age of social media: Comparison is the thief of joy.

At a time when a new mom should be enjoying time with her baby, stories about unrealistically quick postpartum weight loss can be detrimental to both moms and their babies.

“Not realizing expectations of motherhood is one of the leading causes of postpartum depression, ” Angela Bowen, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and registered nurse, told Motherly. “The media has to change.”

According to Bowen—who is also a trained midwife with a doctorate in community health and epidemiology—many first-time moms have skewed ideas of postpartum reality because of the media images we’ve been exposed to. As a result, we are more prone to beating ourselves up for not achieving goals that weren’t practical in the first place.

For starters, Bowen said she’s never met anyone who walked out of the maternity ward in their pre-pregnancy wardrobe in all her years of obstetrics. She explained, “Most women will still look five to six months pregnant after having a baby.”

In the age of Facebook and Instagram, we may see a version of reality through our friends’ post-birth selfies. But researchers found social media is a double-edged sword for new moms: While it exposes us to some authentic postpartum takes, weight loss stories from social media friends may cause women to compare more severely than when viewing celebrities. (For example: Of course I can’t expect to look like Megan Fox right after giving birth, but shouldn’t I be able to bounce back like my former chemistry lab partner?)

While some of the women surveyed said they did compare their body to others and aspired to look more like the women celebrated in media, they also reported making efforts to protect their self-esteem by not exposing themselves to magazines, blogs or sites that made them feel bad.

The researchers found that regardless of whether they were found on TV, in magazines or online, women appreciate images and stories that portray pregnancy and postpartum realistically. It’s a sentiment echoed by Bowen, who suggested honest depictions of early motherhood are more likely to include sanitary pads than swimwear.

She also said she hopes moms will share their stories with other moms—because regardless of whether you’re wearing maternity pants, you and your baby are something to celebrate.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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