The Postpartum Story: Why and How We Need to Change the Narrative

The Way We Talk About Postpartum

Hey momma! Are you new here? If so, let me introduce myself ( If not, hey again! Scroll on down to read this post!)

I’m Chelsea. I’m a postpartum coach and a momma who is committed to keeping it real. I’m not going to share how to make your home, your kids or your body perfect. I’m here to normalize the chaos, sit with you in the messy parts of motherhood and educate you on what to REALLY expect in postpartum. You can get my insight on 10 things people won’t tell you about postpartum HERE! I hope you find some comfort from my page and connect with me so we can keep in touch. Alright- now on to the post you came here for!

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What Postpartum Used to Mean

For centuries, women had a much different postpartum experience than what we now know in dominant American culture. Women before us knew that bodies, minds and emotions needed time to heal and restore after giving birth. Women rallied together and lived the “village” way. (Learn more about the traditions of the First 40 Days in this eye-opening book) Women were given time to rest, connect, and not have to “keep up.” Women were encouraged to prioritize healing, bonding and introspection over bounce back, productivity, and curated photo shoots. They lived in close proximity (or even with) family and friends who would help lift the load of a new mother and family. She wasn’t left alone. She was cooked for, cleaned for and cared for. It seems as though honor was a big part of the narrative about a postpartum mom. She was honored. She was cared for. She was encouraged to care for herself and baby without other burdening expectations.

The narrative has changed over the years with the changes of our society, as all narratives do in an evolving society. Sometimes change is good, but change can also be harmful and we have to stand up against it and demand better for ourselves. No longer does the dominant message about postpartum include rest, staying home, being cared for and nourishing your body and soul.

When it comes to postpartum and motherhood, we’ve seen the harmful changes and it’s time we stand up against it and demand better for ourselves.

There are things people just don’t talk about when it comes to postpartum. I talk about the Top 10 Things People Won’t Tell You About Postpartum in this free download. Check it out and let’s continue to dive into the taboo topics of postpartum.

Mom in postpartum mesh underwear after birth. Real pictures of postpartum body and recovery. #postpartumbody #thisispostpartum

Media, Social Media, Google and Postpartum

Postpartum in the Media
Mental Health stigmas

Standing in line at the grocery store, I saw a tabloid. Tabloids are stupid, I know, but sadly they still exist and people still see them often. This tabloid had a picture of sweet Meghan Markle crying with a headline about postpartum depression. The text conveyed a clear message of shame and drama. The picture and text conveyed the messaged that Postpartum Depression is a terrible, abnormal, failure of a problem and no one that is happy and has a good life should struggle with it. The truth is that Postpartum Depression is common (estimated 1 in 5 moms) and is not linked to decisions or failures on the mother’s part. Read more about the facts of PPD from the National Institute of Mental Health here. All types of women with all types of births and all types of babies can be affected by PPD. Five brave women shared their personal experiences on this previous blog post.

Postpartum on Social Media
Lose the baby weight

It doesn’t take but a quick search of the hashtag #postpartumgoals or #postpartumsupport or something similar to see a disturbing theme. Bodies. Bodies everywhere. Why is this an issue? Because it screams to us, as women, that postpartum goals= postpartum body = losing the baby weight (often referred to as the “bounce back.” Social media is full of before and afters. There is research that confirms that social media affects body image. Sometimes these images even use days post-birth as a “before” which is wildly deceiving. Chances are if you use any hashtag about postpartum on a picture of you and your new babe, someone will ask you about joining a program to get your body back. (Sidenote: You didn’t lose your damn body, momma. You birthed a child and had a natural experience of a body transition which is not shameful in the least.) Need postpartum support? Thankfully more and more doulas and coaches and restorative care-minded groups are emerging (check out my postpartum support program here if you’re interested ) BUT the dominant message is still about fitness and nutrition “support” which again tells us the overarching message is that you’ve had the baby, now lose the weight. This. Is. Not. Acceptable.

Postpartum as a search topic

We’re going to do a little experiment together. Follow along:
1. Open a new tab or browser

2. Navigate to Pinterest. I choose Pinterest because this is a hub of pictures, articles, infographic and more and the primary users of Pinterest are moms.

3. Type in the word “postpartum”

4. Look at the suggested keywords that pop up after the word “postpartum”

Topics about postpartum: Postpartum body, postpartum weight loss and postpartum workouts. #postpartumcoach #lifecoachformoms

Here is a screenshot of what comes up for me. Pinterest suggests extended keywords based on popularity. This means that when women are searching for topics surrounding postpartum, this is what is most searched. Workout, weight loss, care, belly. I’m thankful care is in there.

Women search Pinterest for inspiration for how they want to live their lives. We use these images, articles, infographics and more to guide our decisions in many ways. Women are seeking ways to lose weight or lose the belly because the dominant postpartum narrative in our society tells them that this is a top priority for the postpartum mom.

When we shift the narrative, we give women the freedom to seek out, expect, and accept different priorities for themselves. Shifting the narrative can mean telling a mom that it’s okay to focus on recovery and rest before weight loss and body image. It can tell her that her body- her changed body- is incredible and valuable. Shifting the narrative gives us all a better foundation for which to be a postpartum mom.


The Modern Mom: Do it all. Be it all.

Supermom.

Mom Boss.

Side hustle mom.

Mom whose kid is in every imaginable activity.

Daily toddler craft mom.

Mom who does early language develop programing with her newborn.

Working mom with a house so clean she can post pretty pictures on IG daily.

Children’s clothing is always coordinated mom.

Sleep routine master.

Daily from-scratch meal creator.

My life is a musical I sing in sync with my kids mom.


There is pressure on moms to do it all and there is a lot of motherhood comparison we feel. The mom boss movement makes many women feel like they have to be “more” than a mom. #momboss

If you have a grandmother or another older female you are close to, go ahead and ask her how many of these descriptions she felt pressure to fill. Chances are, it wasn’t many. But today, thanks to a plethora of “how-to” articles and access to other people’s lives at a swipe of the finger, women put these layers on themselves. As soon as a woman isn’t pregnant anymore, she is internalizing the expectations she now has as a mom. (My goal as a content creator and postpartum coach is to call BS on the Pinterest Perfect mom and keep shit real about postpartum and beyond.)

Here’s how this can look:

Cindy follows Mom Influencers on Instagram. She keeps a close eye on 6 profiles:
1. Sara is always posting interactive activities she is doing with her toddler and her newborn.
2. Kelly is always posting tips for a clean home and organization skills- even with kids running around.
3. Vanessa is always posting the clean eating meals she has prepped for her whole family (and her kids LOVE them).
4. Becca is always posting about squeezing in her workout and flexing those post-baby abs.
5. Megan is always posting about “fool-proof” sleep routines and schedules for the family.
6. Erica is always posting about breastmilk, cloth diapers and natural ways to heal any ailments.

So Cindy, after taking a few minutes to scroll her feed, feels like shit. THESE MOMS HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. Or so it seems. Truth is 6 moms have 1 thing together- and we know nothing about the other areas of their lives. However, as the consumer, we internalize these messages and they mix into one “perfect” mom that we expect ourselves to be.

Moms can do anything. Moms cannot do everything. Moms can be anything. Moms cannot be everything.



Changing the Postpartum Narrative: Why and How

The narrative around postpartum has shifted with the generations. Years ago the message was that postpartum is a time when women need support, rest, and community to a current narrative that says women need to perform, prove, and jump back into things. If the narrative has changed in the past, it can change again. This time, though, we are battling the dominant narrative not just in the stories passed down from family and friends, we are now battling the dominant narrative that permeates our media and social media channels. This kind of battle requires collective uprising. It requires passion and compassion. It requires changing the stories we tell aloud and the stories we tell in intimate conversations. It requires demanding that media remove their filter of shame evoking clickbait headlines and misconstrued images. It requires shifting who we follow on social media to raise up the voices speaking truth and hope instead of images curated to show an untruthful perfection.

We deserve this. We deserve more honoring and empowering language around the needs of postpartum. We deserve more education about the changes we go through. We deserve time and rest, recovery and bonding with our new family. We deserve acceptance around mental health struggles, body changes, emotional transitions, identity shifts and every area of life those changes touch.

We don’t just deserve this, we need this. We need this for a more functional society. We need this for healthier families. We need this for a better narrative about postpartum to pass on to our daughters and their families. We cannot settle.

Maybe you want to read and think and have this conversation in the safety of your home. Excellent. Maybe you want to connect and continue this conversation with me and with other women joining in- connect with me on IG. Maybe you have your own story to share- SHARE it. Speak your truth with confidence, mommas, because your truth and story matters and our stories move the collective story forward.

Tell me in the comments: How will YOU be part of changing the narrative of postpartum?

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Be Part of the Change: Pin This Story

Changing the way we talk about postpartum by going beyond weight loss and depression and talking about all the experiences and transitions a woman goes through in postpartum. #postpartumspeaker #postpartumblog

There are things people just don’t talk about when it comes to postpartum. I talk about the Top 10 Things People Won’t Tell You About Postpartum in this free download. Check it out and let’s continue to dive into the taboo topics of postpartum.