One of realities of giving birth is that it can take a toll on a woman’s body. It can take new moms anywhere from three months to a year to shed baby weight, Mitzi Dulan explained in an interview with Women’s Health. And that’s to say nothing of stretch marks and loose skin that can stick around long after childbirth.
Try telling that to President Trump, though. In a new exposé in Vanity Fair, writer Evgenia Peretz divulges disheartening information about the insensitive way Trump allegedly agreed to conceive a child with Melania Trump. At the time she conceived their only son, Barron, now 11, the couple had been married for six months but in a relationship for seven years. The jarring excerpt reads:
A visitor to one of Trump’s homes, late into Melania’s pregnancy, recalls him remarking that he agreed to the baby on the condition that Melania would get her body back. “She promised him that everything would go back to the way it was,” says this guest; it struck this person as a “contract.” And he was simply rude to her. “There was no ‘How do you feel?’ No opening of doors, making sure she didn’t fall. Just ‘You wanted to have a baby.’” ([Trump spokesperson Stephanie Grisham] counters that Mr. Trump was “very warm and supportive throughout her pregnancy.”)
The now-first lady and onetime model did end up sticking to her end of the bargain, but we’ll never know the emotional expense she paid after allegedly being pressured by her own partner into a business-like agreement to look a certain way.
Of course, high-profile moms-to-be whose looks are their livelihood are no strangers to the pressure to bounce back to their pre-baby forms — and fast. Often it seems that famous moms of all ages — including Beyoncé, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Victoria Beckham — have no problem losing the baby weight. With their personal trainers, chefs, and — we can’t take this away from them — their discipline, well, they make it look easy to whip yourself back into shape in the blink of an eye, even though it’s not. Needless to say, this is not the norm for the typical American woman, but that doesn’t mean there’s less societal pressure to slim down post-baby.
“Studies suggest that 72 percent of pregnant women are afraid of being unable to return to pre-pregnancy weight,” says Lori Osachy, owner of the Body Image Counseling Center and author of Parents’ Quick Start Guide: Finding Help Fast When Your Child or Teen Has an Eating Disorder. Osachy tells Yahoo Beauty also notes that 24 percent are distressed by weight gain and 28 percent dislike post-pregnancy changes in their hips and thighs. “Low body self-esteem was more common in women who had a history of dieting,” she notes. “In contrast, 30 percent of women surveyed are less concerned about their weight during pregnancy.”
She adds: “It’s hard to separate from the media. We’re bombarded with unrealistic images and messages and the pressure on women to stay exactly the same.”
But listen up, Trump: Partners also play a big role in many aspects of pregnancy, from body confidence to maternal and infant wellness. “A high-quality, supportive partner relationship during pregnancy may contribute to improved maternal and infant well-being postpartum, indicating a potential role for partner relationships in mental health interventions, with possible benefits for infants as well,” according to a study in the Journal of Family Psychology.
If a partner is being negative and not supportive, says Osachy, it’s likely not limited to a pregnant partner’s body. “They’re probably perpetuating a negative pattern, and it’s a symptom of a larger problem in the relationship,” she says. “If your partner is critical of you during this period, it’s important not to blame yourself. If your partner tells you to lose weight, it’s easy to internalize that shame. But remember, you’re allowed to change.”
Regarding the Trumps’ marriage, with which Osachy has no firsthand experience, she says, “There are all kinds of relationships, and if [Melania is] happy with that, then that’s her prerogative — but then you get into all kinds of questions about money and sex and power. [Trump] holds all the control, financially. If a woman does not have financial power in a marriage, you need to question the validity of a ‘contract’ like that.”
Osachy urges new and expectant moms — who don’t have personal chefs, trainers, and round-the-clock nanny care services at their disposal — to look less to ubiquitous celebrity success stories and more to their peers. “Talk to people around you who have had babies and ask if their bodies have just bounced back and how long it’s taken,” she tells Yahoo Beauty.
But more celebrity moms are coming forward to defend their postpartum bodies. In March, actress Lauren London attended a Lakers game with her husband, Nipsey Hussle, six months after giving birth to their son, and she was shamed on social media for her post-pregnancy body.
— El-Roy Jetson (@OfficiallyJamo) February 28, 2017
London responded to critics with this confident, no-holds-barred message:
I’ve been getting compliments on my looks for years. I never let it ‘gas me’ because I knew the enduring value in all things is internal. When I decided to have my son, I knew the internet would be cruel. I knew that casting directors would consider me out of commission for at least a year. I knew that my body would change, but I did not let the fear of these things effect [sic] me to the point of going against my spirit. I asked myself: Would you rather be at conflict with yourself and at peace with the world? Or at peace with yourself and at conflict with the world? I chose the latter, at that moment I was ready for whatever came with it. This lil weight will get worked off and who I am will be uncompromised. Win-win, no? – LL THE GREAT.
After making two babies, holy cow, does your body do some crazy stuff! It’s hard to stay positive and love yourself. You feel like a kangaroo with a giant pouch; everything’s saggy and weird. But you think about how beautiful it is that you’re able to make children. When I lose sight of that, I exercise, read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and spend time with my kids. Then I start to see things that are bigger than myself.
In July, actress and mom Kristen Bell told Today, “Who cares? I didn’t lose my baby weight for over a year. And when I look down, even now, at the extra skin on my belly, it’s a reminder that I’ve done something spectacular. It’s a reminder that I’m a superhero. And I’m proud of it.”
I am not in perfect shape. In fact, I’m softer than I’ve ever been, including that unfortunate semester in high school when I simultaneously discovered Krispy Kreme and pot. The photos of me in this magazine have been generously constructed to show my best angles, and I assure you, good lighting has been warmly embraced. The truth is, I’m a mother, and I look like one.
For the record, ever-doting dad Jason Sudeikis doesn’t seem to mind the changes one bit.
The bottom line? Bringing a human into the world is a beautiful and amazing thing — and so are the stretch marks, scars, and loose skin some women have to prove it. And if a new mom prioritizes returning to her pre-baby body like Melania managed to do? That’s up to her.
Read more from Yahoo Beauty + Style:
- • ‘I Don’t Love Being Pregnant,’ Admits Picture-Perfect Mom on Instagram
- • ‘It Still Works!’: This Hilarious Pregnancy Announcement Is Going Viral
- • Why This Plus-Size Woman Wants You to See Her ‘Reverse Transformation’ Photo