How long does it take to “snap back” postpartum? If you look on social media or to celebrities for the answer, you would think it took mere days to snap back after having a baby. But take away all the smoke and mirrors, or I should say filters, and you’ll see the harsh reality–snapping back can take years. And it’s not just physical, snapping back is deeper than just fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes.
When we think of snapping back, we think of getting or bodies back to their pre-pregnancy weight. But there’s way more to it than our bodies. When I was focused on getting back to “myself” again after my daughter was born, I turned to the number on the scale and the size of my jeans. But I had to learn that my snap back journey wasn’t just physical but also emotional and mental.
This idea of snapping back in unrealistic and an incomplete picture of the whole postpartum experience. It puts all the focus on our bodies, which is hard enough but it also ignores our mental and emotional state. Not only did my body change but so did my schedule, my needs, my eating and sleeping habits, my relationships, etc. Yet I was only focused on the physical aspects of my postpartum journey which caused postpartum depression.
I kept thinking that if my body returned to it’s pre-pregnancy glory, that everything would just fall into place. Because that’s all anyone every talks about postpartum. Obviously I was wrong. It’s been 6 years since I gave birth to my daughter and honestly, I just started feeling like myself again. My postpartum journey wasn’t easy. But when I stopped focusing on just the physical aspects of snapping back, and looked at it as a whole, everything changed. I started to consider my physical, emotional, and mental health as aspects of my snap back journey.
So, why 6 years? For everyone, it will be different. So, don’t expect my results. But it took 6 years for me to start feeling more like myself postpartum because I had to deconstruct the way I was taught to view my postpartum journey. I had to learn that I had to readjust a lot of my expectations. The road to “getting back to me” was way more complicated than I’d ever imaged.
Everything changed—the way I dressed, what I ate, my hobbies and interests, my goals. I started dressing just for comfort–wearing whatever was practical and effortless. I started eating whatever was quick and available. I gravitated towards hobbies and interests that were quick even if they weren’t as satisfying. And before I knew it, I felt nothing like myself.
A few months ago, while I was taking a trip down memory lane, I caught myself looking at pictures of my daughter when she was just a baby. As I scrolled through pictures, I was shocked to see how much I transformed. It seemed like I was looking at pictures of a stranger. Everyone else was dressed nicely, except for me. I wore leggings and t-shirts and my hair was almost always a mess. Everything I was wearing had to do with being a mom–diaper bag, practical shoes, hair tied up. That realization propelled me to really step out of this comfortable yet unsatisfying bubble I was in.
I started slowly. I started therapy. I carved out a routine that included more time for myself. I started exercising more, reading more, and at the urging of my therapist I started allowing myself to rest and have more fun. Eventually, I started going through my wardrobe and tried to find my personal style again. It might sound superficial, but rediscovering my personal style outside of motherhood was the thing that really got the ball moving.
I’m not saying that buying a new pair of jeans will fix everything, but finding a way back to yourself is the real “snap back” that no one talks about. I might not ever be the exact person I was before becoming a mother, but this new version of me can exist in, outside, and around motherhood, not just at the center of it.
So my advice? Lean into this new version of yourself. Make time for yourself. Put your needs on the to-do list. And most importantly, know that “snapping back” looks different for everyone and it’s not just physical.