For the unfamiliar, snapback culture refers to celebrating a person whose body quickly returns to what it looked like prior to having a baby once they’ve given birth. It’s perpetuated online by individuals, as well as media (social and traditional) that praise new moms for getting their “pre-baby shape” back. And as a new mama to a beautiful six-month-old daughter, this issue is personal for me. Simply put, snapback is a standard of beauty that is toxic and demeaning, and it’s time to stop feeding into the culture that fuels it.
In reality, “recovery after a birth is highly variable," says Jess Goldman, CNM, a certified nurse midwife at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group in Brooklyn. Pregnancy is life-changing, body changing, and that’s 100% okay—which is the message we should be sending to anyone who’s given birth to a baby.
Still, it can be hard to receive and embody this message in a society where bouncing back is still a thing. But here are four key actions that continue to help me reject snapback culture.
I stopped comparing myself to others
Our society normalizes—even encourages—oversharing, and it's incredibly hard not to compare your situation to someone else’s, though practicing mindfulness to support self-awareness helps. I also find taking breaks from social media or muting certain feeds to be beneficial for my mental health, and I remind myself that I don't know the full story behind any of the photos that I see online.
I’m taking my time
I grew up playing sports, which gives me a good understanding of how long it takes to transform your body—hint: It’s a lot longer than you may think. Patience is an important part of any transformation. After all, if I tried to run a marathon overnight, I’d only end up feeling defeated, injured, and worse off than when I started—the same rules apply to postpartum recovery.
I’m not depriving myself
My partner is a French chef, so naturally, there are croissants and pastries everywhere in our home. I love them all and a nice glass of wine, but for me, moderation is essential, and balance is key. (I also still breastfeed my daughter exclusively, so everything I eat, she does as well.) While I’m enduring endless diaper changes, operating on very little sleep due to sleep training, and overloading on laundry, croissants bring me joy. And life’s too short and precious not to experience much-deserved joy.
I think health first
Knowing that my postpartum progress is so much more than a flat belly helps keep me in a positive mindset during my recovery from childbirth. My focus is strengthening my core and pelvic floor to ensure that my body functions optimally as a whole. I'm also building back my running volume and intensity without overworking myself. Instead of focusing on the numbers on a scale, I'm looking at the entire picture and prioritizing my health first.
I’m constantly reminded that life after a baby is not the same—it’s even better! I'm learning to navigate mamahood's many steep curves, filled with thrills, spills, and unforgettable memories. Acknowledging the physical changes as a part of this amazing time in my life is a vital part of tending to the new me, which is something Goldman agrees should be a priority. "At the end of the day, our bodies are fundamentally changed by birthing," she says. "It seems to me that there’s no need to 'bounce back' to something old, but rather it’s time to look forward to something positively new."
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