Your Postpartum Body Woes Could Affect Your Child

Complaining about your body is not a crime. But, if a recent study is any indication, it may change the way your kids view their own shapes.

postpartum body Kho Benz/Shutterstock
"I hate my thighs."

"My stomach is too flabby."

"I need to tone up my arms."

They're all comments we've all heard—or even uttered—multiple times. And while not being 100 percent satisfied with every part of your body is completely natural, verbalizing those sentiments—at least in front of your kids—may not be so great for their own body confidence.

A study from Channel Mum indicates that children tend to repeat body complaints after hearing their mothers verbalize them—according to their findings, seven in ten children have repeated phrases about their bodies after hearing their mothers discuss this issue. Four in ten children said "I feel fat," while 41 percent have said "I don't like my tummy." A third of the respondents' children asked to be put on diets, and 14 percent said they don't like their bodies.

Now, this is a really tough issue. If you give birth, your body goes through some drastic changes—they come on suddenly, and it can be tough when your jeans don't button or your hard-won abs are no longer visible. However, those things are minor in the grand scheme of things—your amazing body grew a whole human! We should all celebrate our postpartum bodies for what they've done.

It's important to remember that children are sponges. Instilling body confidence in kids is key, and we need to show our bodies the same level of kindness we hope our children will show their bodies. The negative language we throw around where our bodies are concerned is just that: Negative. And if it's influencing the way our children see themselves, well, that's an important thing to keep in mind.

"Giving birth is the most extreme thing a woman’s body can do, so of course the shape is going to change," Channel Mum founder Siobhan Freegard said in an emailed release for the study. “Having a post-birth body is something to be celebrated, not shamed. Of course it’s good to be fit and healthy, but we shouldn’t be so obsessed with perfection that we raise a generation of children with body hang-ups."
We couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, the study's findings also indicate that while most moms do appreciate their bodies after baby, few actually feel confident—in fact, just 7 percent of the 2,000 respondents reported increased body confidence after giving birth. While this is a sad finding, it's also not surprising: We know it can take time to make peace with your changed shape—especially when you're bombarded with images of celebrities and social media stars who "bounced back" in record time.

But here's where the findings get seriously disturbing: 71 percent of the women surveyed were subjected to comments about their bodies from family members and strangers alike, and 13 percent were called out by healthcare professionals. Of the surveyed, 7 percent admitted to dieting during pregnancy, 40 percent underwent surgery to alter their postpartum bodies, and 55 percent said they would have surgery if they could afford it. 

Moms see a possibility for improvement, though—the women surveyed expressed interest in seeing ads featuring body diversity and hearing celebrities be more candid about their physical changes. The women also said they wished more everyday moms would share photos to document their own post-baby bodies.

The good news? We feel like progress is underway—more and more women are sharing real, unfiltered details of the postpartum experience, and we can only hope this will help moms everywhere understand that most women don't naturally just snap right back after baby, and that it's ok to look different after giving birth. And, if this study's findings are any indication, that shift will lead to healthier outlooks in our children.