Kelly Stafford opened up about the pressure to bounce back after giving birth in the latest episode of her podcast, The Morning After.
“There is no such thing as a post-baby snapback,” Stafford, who shares four daughters, including a set of twins, with Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, said. “It is not realistic.”
During the episode, Stafford, 33, got emotional as she recalled the negative feelings she experienced while postpartum and how unrealistic standards and low confidence made her spiral.
“Marrying someone in the limelight” made her “very body-conscious,” she admitted, adding, “I am very self-conscious when my body is not where I want it to be.”
Stafford also resents that she allowed societal pressures to make her focus more on her body than on enjoying her babies.
“It’s an incredible thing to carry a baby, you know — there is a bunch of people that want this so bad that either can’t get pregnant or aren’t able to carry a baby,” she said. “It feels terrible to even say that you have problems with your body after what your body just did.”
When she gave birth to her now-4-year-old twins, Sawyer and Chandler, she recalled being pulled out of the moment when she noticed her stomach was still protruding immediately after delivery.
“I remember holding them in the hospital room … and looking down and saying, ‘There’s still a belly there — like a legit pregnancy belly,'” she said.
Stafford, who has since welcomed two more daughters — Hunter, 3, and Tyler, 1 — also shared a photo of her body three months after delivering her twins on her podcast’s Instagram.
Speaking to her podcast listeners, Stafford revealed how social media gave her the impression that her body would shrink back down after childbirth. When it didn’t, she took “unhealthy” measures to try and slim down.
“You see all these images on social media of these bounce-backs and these snapbacks and it seems like they have a baby and within a week they have a six-pack and medically that is not possible,” she said. “It really affected me.
“I realized I wasn’t ‘snapping back’ [so] I started doing unhealthy s**t. I started cutting calories to an extent that wasn’t healthy,” she continued.
She now admits to getting so caught up in wanting her old body back that she lost sight of what was actually important.
“I was focusing on myself and the body I had and how I wasn’t happy with that, and, like, that is selfish, because to be honest, it shouldn’t matter,” she said. “But the reason we feel like it matters is because we see all of the social media around it and all these women who, just in two weeks, are back to their [pre-baby] size and you’re like, ‘Well what the hell? What am I doing wrong?'”
Stafford also opened up about her feelings toward postpartum sex and the lingering insecurities that stuck around long after delivery.
“I could not do it and I feel like he felt like it was something [wrong] with him and I’m like, ‘No, I just don’t want s**t hanging when I’m doing that,'” she said of feeling self-conscious after her stomach during sex.
“I was so insecure,” Stafford continued. “I didn’t understand why my body wasn’t doing all these things that I was seeing other bodies do. … I was in such a bad headspace and I didn’t know how to get out.”
Discouraged by failed attempts to mimic Insta-worthy snapback photos, no matter how much she manipulated the angles and lighting, Stafford said things did get really dark for her at points.
She recalled thinking, “‘Maybe if I, like, suck in here, stand this way it will look smaller, I’ll look like I bounced back.’ It was not happening. There was no way to even maneuver myself to make it look that way and I, like, broke down. … Thoughts of eating disorders went into my head.”
Stafford acknowledged how privilege—including her own—can allow some women to give the illusion of a seamless bounce-back.
“They have a full time nanny, they probably have a night nurse, they have a gym in their home, they have a chef, they probably have a nutritionist on staff,” she said, adding, “I am going to include myself in this box, because I do have access to all these things.”
Ultimately, Stafford wants women to know that it is OK for bodies to look different post-baby and that there is always more than meets the eye when it comes to “perfect” postpartum posts.
“If you are a mom or a new mom or still trying to get your body back, understand it’s OK to take your time to get your body back,” she said. “We put so much pressure to bounce back that we forget to enjoy the little ones.”
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