Actress Jennifer Garner, a mother of three, once jokingly referred to the extra weight that childbirth left around her tummy as her “baby bump” and added almost proudly, “It’s not going anywhere.”
Drew Barrymore, after giving birth twice, described how “everything’s saggy and weird,” but also dismissed the Hollywood pressure to lose post-childbirth weight as “silly and ridiculous.”
“Different women certainly react in different ways to the changes their bodies go through because of childbirth,” says Dr. Michael Burgdorf, author of The Mommy Makeover: Restoring Your Body After Childbirth and founder of Music City Plastic Surgery (www.drmichaelburgdorf.com).
“Some are fine with it because happiness shouldn’t be about how your body looks. It should come from within. But I do encounter women who have lost their self-confidence, worry that they are less desirable to their partners and describe feeling old before their time.”
For women who yearn to return to their pre-pregnancy shape – or at least something approximating it – Burgdorf offers this advice:
- Diet and exercise remain the first options. “You don’t have to train for a marathon in between diaper changes, but you can work some regular exercise into your life,” Burgdorf says. Don’t expect this to return you completely to the body you had before pregnancy, but you will be fitter and healthier.
- A “mommy makeover” may be right for some women. Many mothers choose plastic surgery. In fact, a survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that 62 percent of mothers would consider a mommy makeover if cost weren’t a consideration. A mommy makeover includes such procedures as a tummy tuck, liposuction, breast augmentation and a breast lift. Burgdorf says this can be a good option for women who don’t plan any more children and feel it will improve their lives emotionally. But he cautions that a mommy makeover isn’t magic (it won’t turn you into somebody else) and it won’t turn the clock back 20 years.
- Don’t let others decide for you. Ultimately, it’s the woman’s opinion about her body that matters. For example, if your husband doesn’t like how you look and constantly criticizes your body, that’s a marital issue more than a plastic surgery issue, Burgdorf says. Surgery isn’t going to save a strained and unhealthy relationship. Often, though, women want the makeover and it’s husbands who are resistant because they worry about their wife’s safety.
“They usually feel better after their questions are answered and they learn how safe the surgery is,” he says.
Finally, Burgdorf notes that anyone considering a mommy makeover should be careful about how they talk with their children about plastic surgery – and about their bodies.
“As they grow up, we want kids to have a positive body image,” he says. “How their mom carries herself, how she responds to celebrities in popular media, and the language she uses to describe her own body have a strong impact on her children. Kids need to know that cosmetic surgery isn’t necessary to be attractive.”