Viewing Body Image After Baby

Written by Abigail Burd, MSW, LCSW, CPRP

Happy January! The cheery month when the media tells us we need to start our New Year’s Resolutions to exercise and lose weight. Meanwhile, the Award Season is in full swing with gorgeous Hollywood actresses showing off their post-baby bodies. In the movie “Knocked Up,” Katherine Heigl’s character is told by her work that they can’t legally ask her to lose weight, but that she needs to “tighten” it up. We may not aspire to be red carpet ready, but how many of us want to tighten up or change our postpartum bodies?

This time last year, I started writing a post with tips on how to achieve goals and change. I stopped midway through writing it, realizing no one needed it. We need to hear that we are beautiful just the way we are . We need to tell ourselves that we are beautiful. And believe it. So when Robin asked me to write about body image after having a baby, I knew I wanted to share.

 

Put Comparisons in Check

It is human nature to compare. Social comparison theory explains that we look to those that are similar around us, how we rate and where we stand, in order to know ourselves. We determine our own social and personal value based on how we stack up against others.(1) According to research, more women than men compare themselves with the unrealistic standards presented in the media.(2)

This is isn’t anything new. After reading “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf in the 90’s, I purposely stopped looking at fashion and “women’s” magazines, in an effort to feel better about myself. And it worked.

Rationally, most of us know that it isn’t fair to compare ourselves to a Hollywood A-Lister, with a full-time trainer, personal chef, nanny, and a team of 5-6 stylists. But what about when the comparisons are closer to home?

Do you know what the most commonly felt emotions are when scrolling through Instagram and Facebook? Envy and shame.(3) You can read more about a recent study and how to feel better while scrolling through your feed here. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201511/what-do-when-social-media-make-you-miserable.)

Something to remember is that we may think we are viewing our friends’ lives through social media, but we are actually seeing a very filtered (literally) version. People by nature, tend to post only the best moments, at the best angles, in the best lighting. We only think it is daily life because we see it on a daily basis.

 

Every Mom is Different

Rachel Rabinor is also a psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in Maternal Mental Health in San Diego. She shares:

“It's important to remember, that just like all babies are different and they reach different milestones at their own pace, all moms are different too. Sounds cliché but it's easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to other women even though everyone is indeed different. Some women who are breastfeeding are back to their pre-baby weight in just a few months, while others seem to hold onto the weight until after they wean. It's so important to be gentle with yourself, to remember you are nourishing a baby and there's a reason your body is built the way it is. Another thing I try and remind clients is that they are already a role model for their child from day one. Young children are like sponges; we need to be mindful of how we talk about our bodies and the importance we as mothers place on looks. This doesn't mean we can't care about our health, but simply to be mindful of what we say. We want our babies to grow up feeling they are good enough and they will learn this from you- their most important role model.” 

 

What is Realistic Postpartum Weight Loss?

I asked Lindsay Stenovec, MS, RDN, CEDRD, the owner of Nutrition Instincts, a nutrition counseling private practice in San Diego, who specializes in eating disorders, intuitive eating, and prenatal and postpartum wellness.

“Postpartum weight loss looks different for every woman and often does not align with our expectations or the cultural expectations imposed on us. I always remind women that the postpartum body changes are just as slow, intentional, and necessary as the ones experienced during pregnancy - think months and years - not days and weeks. When a woman expresses stress and concern about her postpartum weight, we need to understand that responding with weight loss and dieting advice is only making postpartum harder for her. At a time when she so desperately needs to be getting acquainted with her changed self, restrictive diet and exercise regimens pull her further and further away from her own body's needs and self-care. This can interfere with the overall healing process and add immense stress to an already challenging time. The best thing a mom can do is to make sure she is getting consistent, adequate meals that satisfy her taste buds and hunger (which, if she is breastfeeding, is going to be much stronger than she is used to).  If moms can work towards eating based on their internal hunger and fullness cues, their bodies will have the nutrition and strength they need to heal and mom won't be dealing with the added stress that dieting can bring.”

 

Subvert the Dominant Paradigm

I love the movement to celebrate postpartum bodies for what they are. Instead of hiding stretch marks, women are recognizing their “tiger stripes” as earned reminders of the miraculous journeys of their bodies. In “A Beautiful Body Project”, photographer Jade Beall and her troops document real women so that they “heal, find others who have journeyed through similar challenges, realize they aren’t alone, and show future generations of boys and girls a source of media that isn’t controlled by corporate interests, using digital body alterations to change how women look, and actually build healthy self-esteem in future generations of women.”

Find your inspiration to love your body for what it can do, and what it has done. If you are stuck, “ask a baby!”(4) What would your baby say about your body?

Abigail Burd, MSW, LCSW, CPRP is a psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in Maternal Mental Health. Drawn to helping others, Abby has worked in the mental health field since 1998. Struggling with an initial low milk supply following the birth of her first child led her to amazing postpartum support groups, including the San Diego Breastfeeding Center’s “Boob Group” where she found her “mama tribe.” After the birth of her second she briefly contemplated having more and more babies, but decided instead to integrate her passion and profession to support other pregnant and postpartum women. Abby has a private practice in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego, with a focus on the anxiety and emotional challenges of pregnancy and new parenthood. Her website is AbigailBurdLCSW.com.


References:

(1) https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/social-comparison-theory; retrieved 1/22/16.

(2) Strahan, E. J., Wilson, A. E., Cressman, K. E., & Buote, V. M. (2006). Comparing to perfection: How cultural norms for appearance affect social comparisons and self-image. Body Image, 3(3), 211-227.

(3) Lim, M., & Yang, Y. (2015). Effects of users’ envy and shame on social comparison that occurs on social network services. Computers In Human Behavior, 51(Pt A), 300-311. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.05.013.

(4) Elmo.

Holiday Donation Drive - Crisis House

It’s that time of year again.  A time for gratitude.  A time for reflection. A time to give back to our community.  Each year, the San Diego Breastfeeding Center looks for an organization to donate to for families in need of support.  This year we have chosen the Crisis House in El Cajon.  

The Crisis House provides humanitarian services to citizens who are socioeconomically disadvantaged or in crisis with a focus on serving those in the East region of San Diego County.  They provide housing programs, food assistance, and hygiene, clothing, and household items to families in need.  After speaking with their executive director, Jack Micklos, we’ve decided to host a Holiday Donation Drive to collect items for their youngest recipients.

Come Join Our Crisis House Holiday Donation Drive Event!

The Crisis House has requested some very specific items that they need for their families with infants.  We will be collecting the following items for them:

  • Diapers (all sizes)
  • Baby Food
  • Baby Wipes
  • Bottles
  • Formula
  • Diaper bags
  • Blankets
  • Bath and hygiene items
  • Gift cards for specialty items (like Babies R Us)

Details for the Crisis House Holiday Donation Drive Event

What: Drop off any unused and new items you would like to donate

Where: San Diego Breastfeeding Center (3355 4th Ave., San Diego, CA 92103)

When: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 from 10am-1pm

All of us at the San Diego Breastfeeding Center will drop off the collected donations to the Crisis House right after the holidays!  It will be a great way for all of us to give back to our community, as well as share the experience of giving to others with our children!

For more information about our Crisis House Holiday Donation Drive event, please visit our Facebook Event page or email Robin at robinkaplan@sdbfc.com.

We look forward to seeing you all and sharing your donations with local families in need!  Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!



Check Out These Lactation Rooms at the San Diego Airport!

Traveling just got easier for breastfeeding and pumping moms traveling through the San Diego International Airport!  Just in time for the holidays, right?

Last month, the San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force was contacted by a local breastfeeding mom, Emily Mest, who frequently travels through the San Diego International Airport for work.  Here is Emily’s story, which set the wheels in motion to make breastfeeding and pumping easier for all moms traveling through the San Diego airport.

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Over the last year breastfeeding twins as a fulltime working mom, I’ve had a lot of  “air travel adventures”. There was the first time I pumped in my seat on a packed plane, and the glorious time an American Airlines stewardess curtained off her jumpseat area to give me a clean, private space. I’ll never forget bringing 25lbs of frozen milk back for the twins after a week in Costa Rica, and the kind United agent who waived the overweight bag fee since all the extra weight was breastmilk. I’ll  also never forget pumping tucked into a dirty corner of the Houston airport, just to have a tiny bit of privacy without pumping in an even dirtier bathroom.

Through it all, I couldn’t stop thinking how uncomfortable and emotionally draining this all was. From being away from my small babies, the normal stresses of air travel, and dealing with pumping, to clogged ducts, maintaining supply, and the ever-looming threat of mastitis.  If I hadn’t fought with everything I had to breastfeed my 35-weeker twins, I’d likely have thrown in the towel. If I hadn’t found a savvy working moms breastfeeding support group on Facebook, I doubt I would have had the confidence for those moments when I chose to throw on a cover and pump in front of hundreds of people in a crowded airport (choosing that over pumping in a foul-smelling bathroom). I found myself sad for other mamas who would have to endure this. I was disheartened thinking that if they didn’t have strong support or entrenched stubbornness, maybe they would stop breastfeeding because pumping during air travel can push you to your limits.

I had seen other mamas posting pictures of beautiful lactation rooms or lactation pods in other airports, so I started to investigate a bit. I emailed some of the pod companies to ask about how they go about getting their pods installed in airports. I Facebook messaged Jenna Ikuta, the manager of the San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force, responding to a post of hers about breastfeeding advocacy, and asked if she knew anything about Terminal 1 in the San Diego International Airport, where pumping is particularly hard. From Jenna, I found out that as of January 2016 a new law in California would require a place for moms to pump that is not a bathroom in all airport terminals that had over 1 million flights per year, except terminal 1 in San Diego.  

I became a mom on a mission: even if it happened after I was done breastfeeding, something had to be done about Terminal 1 in San Diego. As it turns out, my “mission” had really already been completed – the lactation room in Terminal 1 opened earlier this fall.  The San Diego Breastfeeding Coalition sent me an email to this regard, and I was shocked and excited. The following week I had a business trip and low and behold, after asking 5 employees someone finally knew what I was talking about and pointed me to the lactation room. It was beautiful.

 

There’s still a bit of work to be done: educating employees about the lactation room, putting up a well-placed sign or two, and spreading the word among nursing mamas. I posted in a few of the local breastfeeding groups, and added the location to the great app “Moms Pump Here” that helps moms find pumping locations around the country. I’m ironically writing this on my first business trip in over a year without a pump – I’m just gone for the day and the twins are only nursing morning and night now.  I hope that the next time you’re at the San Diego International Airport for a Southwest flight you enjoy the new facilities: just past security to your left, tucked under the escalators.

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After submitting Emily’s letter to the San Diego International Airport’s Customer Relations Coordinator (with the help of the UCSD’s Lactation Supportive Environments Department), we were thrilled to report back to Emily that there were, in fact, THREE Lactation Rooms at the San Diego airport.  It appeared that the security and airport staff just had no idea that all three existed.  Since this misinformation was brought to the airport’s attention, they have gone above and beyond to make these Lactation Rooms available and accessible to breastfeeding and pumping moms.  First, they have placed the breastfeeding symbol on their interactive map, showing where all of the lactation rooms are located. Secondly, they have sent out a press release so that all of their staff members will know about the Lactation Rooms and where they are located.  

Hopefully the last step will be to take Emily’s advice and affix well-placed signs throughout the airport so that moms can easily find these rooms when they need them.  

We would like to commend the San Diego International Airport for making breastfeeding and pumping moms a priority in their renovation plans and for creating a wonderful space where moms may have some well-deserved privacy.

Thank you, Emily, for bringing this to our attention so that all breastfeeding and pumping moms traveling through our airport can benefit from these rooms!  And, for moms who would like to breastfeed their children throughout the terminal, remember that California law protects your right to breastfeed in public!  

Safe travels during the busy holiday season, and beyond!

Have you seen a Lactation Room or a Mamava Lactation Suite at one of the airports you have traveled through?  Snap a photo and place it in the comments so that we can share this information with other traveling moms!

 

Update on our Kickstarter Project

 

Well, our 30 days are up for our Kickstarter project and, unfortunately, our Nursing in Public Task Force website project didn't receive the funding that we had hoped for.  We reached about 10% of the funding we needed and I am so incredibly appreciative of the support we received from our generous donors!  

While I am sad that the Nursing in Public Task Force website project will have to be put on hold for now, I am not too discouraged to let it go completely.  Over the next few months, I will be updating the resources on our local Nursing In Public Task Force webpage, speaking at the Annual California Breastfeeding Summit about our project, and hopefully finding other funding sources to pay for this valuable online resource.  So, if you happen to have any ideas for other funding sources (or an amazing benefactor who'd like to pay for the website!), please email me so we can explore these options :-)  

If you would like to stay current on this project, please sign up for our newsletter, as we will be updating our website with new information and resources for nursing in public.

Thanks, again!  This has been an enlightening learning experience for me and I hope to have a huge announcement in the next few months that we have secured funding for this valuable and needed website!

Warmly,

Robin

Join our Movement to Stop Nursing in Public Harassment

We are so excited to announce that we have launched our first Kickstarter campaign today!  It is called the Nursing in Public Task Force Website.  

 

As you know, the ladies at the San Diego Breastfeeding Center are fierce advocates for protecting a woman's right to breastfeed in public.   This is exactly why we created the San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force in 2013.  Too many local moms had been discriminated against and shamed for breastfeeding their babies outside of their homes and we just couldn’t stand by silently anymore!

In these past 2 years, we have helped over a dozen women mediate nursing in public harassment incidents, as well as countless of others to remedy discriminatory incidents on their own.  We feel like the time has come to expand these resources… to help breastfeeding women and businesses/organizations across the country uphold their state laws that protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers and stop these discriminatory acts.

So, how can you help?

Today we launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a national Nursing in Public Task Force website.  The money raised will pay for a website designer, content creation, and a photographer/videographer for the website.  We would be extremely grateful if you would take a few moments out of your day to look at the Kickstarter project.  If you feel like this sounds like a worthy cause, please consider donating and share with your friends (by forwarding this article and sharing on Facebook).  Know that you will be making a difference in thousands of women's and children's lives, as well as creating more tolerant and supportive communities across our country.

Click here to check out our Nursing in Public Task Force Website Kickstarter campaign:

 

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!