Monthly Archives: November, 2013

Postpartum Celebrity Weight Loss

As I look at these pictures, I  consider many possibilities:kelly preston %22body after baby%22

  • 1) Air brushing and digital manipulation.
  •  2) Rapid weight loss due to Postpartum Depression/Anxiety.
  •  3) Naturally thin figure due to genes, athleticism, or breast-feeding.

Postpartum Celebrity Weight Loss

  •  4) Access to an exorbitant amount of money for  “mommy tucks,” fitness coaching, nanny-ing, &  style consultation postpartum.
  •  5) We don’t know the full story here.

The truth? The truth is (though there has been much speculation), we don’t know the full story here. However, I am reflecting on how Princess Diana suffered with bulimia while “looking good” in the public eye. I am reflecting on how a colleague of mine, a Licensed Psychologist who has now been assisting other women recover from Perinatal mood disorders for the past 20 years, suffered from Postpartum Depression and lost 40 lbs as a symptom of her depression in the “fourth trimester” postpartum. Many people said to her during this time “Wow, you look great!”

We still live in a culture full of what Carolyn Costin calls the “thin commandments,” moral judgements about body size and shape and, by extension, about the person inhabiting a particular body size and shape.

Some examples of Thin Commandments include:

  • jennifer garner post babyIf you aren’t thin you aren’t attractive;
  • Being thin is more important than being healthy;
  • What the scale says is the most important thing;
  • Losing weight is good/gaining weight is bad; You can never be too thin;
  • Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success.

For more on the Thin Commandments, click here:

We also still live in a world where education is needed. According to a recent survey, many women still need educating about the extent of digital manipulation in the media, because “15% of the 18-24 year old women surveyed believe the images of celebs and models they see in magazines accurately reflect what the models look like in reality.”

Women Need Further Educating Into Extent of Digital Manipulation New Look Survey, London UK, 26 November, 2013)

Mommy tucks

“Mommy surgery came to public attention… after the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported a rise in cosmetic surgery cosmetic among women of child-bearing age. In 2004 doctors nationwide performed more than 325,000 “mommy makeover procedures”, up 11 percent from 2005.” (New York Times, October 4, 2007)

The most serious risk of a “mommy tuck,” is blood clots.”You’re more at risk to get a blood clot with a tummy tuck than with other types of cosmetic surgery because you spend much more time lying down recuperating, so blood can pool in your veins and pelvis,” Seattle surgeon Phil Haeck explains. Blood clots are deadly about 30 percent of the time.

I remember reading an article about Mommy tucks in a Doctor’s waiting room magazine right before I had tests done for anemia and adrenal fatigue resulting from depleted iron stores and chronic sleep deprivation postpartum. It was not helpful to my self-esteem. Becoming a mother is an intense, identity shifting transformation, part of which includes inhabiting a vastly different body. Airbrushing, having plastic surgery, and focusing on body image as a meaningful integration of success not only bypasses this identity transformation, but inhibits it from coming into fruition. In research study a 2011 exploring the questions of “the woman I used to be; the woman I fear I could become; and the woman I hope to become,” Ogle, Tyner, Schofield-Tomschin write:

For many women, a central and profound concern of pregnancy revolves around whether, after the pregnancy is over, the body will return to ‘normal.’ In such cases being pregnant may represent a transitional or liminal body that becomes the site of a ‘struggle to redefine and refigure the self after childbirth.


How women navigate and cope with stresses incited by the bodily experiences of postpartum can impact their integration of the maternal identity as well as their successful adaptation to parenthood, which, in and of itself, can be a demanding and stressful life transition for both women and men.

(Ogle, Tyner, Schofield-Tomschin, “Jointly Navigating the Reclamation of the ‘Woman I Used to Be’: Negotiating Concerns About the Postpartum Body Within the Marital Dyad” Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, January 2011 vol. 29 no. 1 35-51).

This is what most women’s’ bodies look like postpartum:

belly after pregnancy

Thank you to people like Jade Beale and the beautiful body project helping women reclaim, revel, and be proud of their bodies in all of their shapes and sizes! Navigating the transition to motherhood can one of the most profound, difficult, transformative and rewarding journeys of a woman’s life. And successfully navigating this journey includes wrestling with questions about how one’s body- and self- are changed in the process. I would like to invite celebrating the change, in all of its forms, including sagging skin, new wrinkles, different stomachs and breasts. These are hard earned changes in our bodies that have given birth. I would like to celebrate that.


THIS, thank you body image movement 

is what I would like to see magazine covers start to look like:

A woman can dream…

Myth Busting, Part 2: Pregnancy is glowing and Motherhood comes naturally.

1) Having a birth plan determines the way labor and delivery happens.

Creating a a birth plan is important as a guide, while realizing the baby has not read the plan.

2) Good mothers easily breastfeed.

Breastfeeding can be easy or difficult, and most likely, both.  Good mothers breastfeed, good mothers formula feed, and good mothers do both.

3) You can (and should) get your baby to sleep through the night.

Your baby may sleep at night, may not sleep at night, and may sleep in spurts or have difficulty sleeping. There are lost of tools you can try for assisting your baby to learn good sleep habits and some of them may be effective.

4) Only bad (poor, mentally ill, single, uncaring) mothers get depressed.

Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders affect 1 in 5 women. There is no correlation with level of caring or direct predictive factor with previous mental illness, level of income, marital status. Recovery is possible. You do not have to suffer alone.

5) You can get your pre-baby body back & this determines your happiness.

Your body will change after having a baby. There are various places this happens, some of them may go back to the “way they were” and some of them won’t.  You can still be a happy, fulfilled, sexy, empowered, loved woman. Getting your stomach back is not the key ingredient in this equation.

6) You will be mostly the same person with a few acutraments like a diaper bag after having a baby.

You will not be the same person anymore. Motherhood changes you, in profound ways you can’t imagine ahead of time. And this develops over time. Give yourself at least as much patience, kindness, time, and commitment as you do your baby as you grow your new mother identity.

7) You will and should feel sexy and available to your partner postpartum.

You will most likely feel exhausted, pulled on to care for your baby physically, have challenging body image, and your hormones can take years to re-regulate. It’s ok to include these challenges in assessing your availability for and communicating with your partner.


 8) Superwoman (aka SuperMommy) lives and the feminist revolution has made all things possible for women to do alone.
Overtly navigating agreements around housework and childcare is a necessary and ongoing part of parenting. You do not have to do everything. Superman and Superwoman do not exist. Imperfect Mama and Super(ish) Papa (Partner) do, if you work at it together. Lower your expectations. Set imperfect goals. Be honest about your shortcomings. Asking for help is the secret SUPERPOWER for parents.
9) Good mothers stay at home.Good mothers stay at home, work outside the home, work part time in the home and part time outside the home. Children attach to caregivers that are available to them. Children of mothers who make choices that keep themselves feeling sane and happy have mothers that are available for secure attachment.

10) You should have the “right” daycare, preschool, college lined up for your child prior to giving birth.

There is not a shortage of schools. Finding the right school is a sorting problem, not a shortage problem. You can take your time, notice your child’ temperament, and re-asses ongoingly throughout your child’s life for the right fit. YOU are the constant that is a safe secure base from which to learn, grow, and be them self.

There are many, many, many resources available for support if you are wanting to challenge these myths!

For a list, see: the “Pregnancy and New Mothers section”

MYTH Busting


1. It is a glowing time.

2. All pregnancies are a choice that is wanted and/or planned.

3. Having a child will create a happy family/marriage/partnership.

4. All pregnancies result in live births.

5. Only straight women under the age of 35 who are the biological mothers and married to men have happy and healthy babies.

6. All mothers and fathers will be happy that they are having a baby.

7. There is a right amount of weight to gain.

8. Eating disorders do not happen during pregnancy, due to the “protective factor” of the baby.

9. Only un-medicated vaginal births are good and the birth plan is a straightforward process.

10. Depression* does not occur during pregnancy.


1. Eating disorders are a superficial issue concerned with appearance.


2. Eating disorders are a choice.

3. Being thin= being happy, fulfilled.

4. Eating disorders are not medically and psychologically serious and only anorexia can be lethal.

5. Only straight, white, adolescent girls have them.

6. Men do not have eating disorders.

7. Being a certain weight will resolve complex life difficulties and transitions.

8. Eating disorders do not happen during pregnancy, due to the “protective factor” of the baby.

9. Recovery from an eating disorder is about the food and recovery is a straightforward process.

10. Depression* is separate issues from an eating disorder.


1. It is a glowing time.

2. Mothers can choose/control the temperament of their child/baby.

3. Motherhood will make you happy/fulfilled.

4. Postpartum Depression* is not that serious, not lethal, and does not require treatment.

5. Only single mothers, mothers with a history of Depression*, or mothers in unhappy marriages have Postpartum Depression*.

6. Men and adoptive parents do not/cannot have Postpartum Depression*.

7. Getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight and shape makes you happy and is possible within 3 (6, 12…) months postpartum.

8. Only unsatisfied or “bad” mothers have eating disorders (or motherhood will cure an eating disorder).

9. Motherhood is a natural process that includes the innate wisdom of how to breastfeed, get baby to take a bottle, and get babies to sleep.

10. Good mothers breastfeed, sleep when the baby sleeps, don’t work outside the home, and do not have Postpartum Depression.*

*as well as Anxiety and other Mood Disorders

Notice the similarities! Let’s stop living the myths and break the silence. Recovery is possible.


More on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders on the Postpartum Support International website:

More on Myths about Eating Disorders on the National Eating Disorders Association website:

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