The "Momshell," What's a Post-Pregnancy Woman to Do?

Women are now expected to be a "momshell" (mother as bombshell), soon after they have just had a baby. Should this really be a new mother's priority?


by Dr. Laurel Schwartz

The Momshell:  What’s a Post-Pregnancy Woman to Do?

Apparently there is new pressure women face, when it comes to their appearance and it has a name - “momshell,” (mother-as-bombshell).  Being a momshell entails being sexually alluring and hyper-fit soon after giving birth.  The consequences of failing at quickly getting into shape after having a baby, seem to be quiet condemnations and public put-downs by other women.

I can talk about how this is yet one more venue for women to objectify themselves.  Indeed, research on girls suggest that they begin to objectify themselves, as early as the age of 11.  Our daughters are in fact, so concerned about how they look to others, especially boys, that they have no psychic space left with which to dream about their future.  While boys are thinking about developing themselves as scientists, athletes and accountants girls are thinking about how they look in skinny jeans.  I can talk about all the other obvious and not so obvious consequences of the relentless pressure on girls/women to look a certain way and to be sexual.  I find myself, however, preoccupied with one thought when it comes to momshells.  What about the baby?

In the zeal of getting off that baby weight and having abs of steal, what has happened to the needs of the infant?  What about the real needs of the mother who has just given birth?  These concerns are institutionalized in many cultures.  For example, in traditional Hispanic culture there is the “cuarentena.”  For the first 40 days after giving birth the women family members help the new mother.  During this period the new mother rests — healing and recovering. She learns to breastfeed and she bonds with her infant.  The mother bonding with her newborn is essential to the newborn’s feelings of wellbeing and its capacity to thrive.

Unfortunately, our culture, as the momshell demonstrates, has a preoccupation with the needs of the self, which has resulted in a letting go of bonds and relationships.  As the psychologist, Martin Seligman said all the way back in 1988, “…the self is a very poor site for finding  meaning.”  A momshell may have immediately recouped or figure, post-pregnancy, but at what price?

 Dr. Schwartz is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Stamford.

"The Human Condition" is a weekly blog posted by Dr. Schwartz that discusses psychology — thoughts, feelings, and behavior — in everyday life.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

J Bauer September 14, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Do people really use the word "momshell" ?!?!!? While I do not agree with the idea of dropping 30lbs two weeks after pregnancy at all costs, Doctor, you do not mention the fact that MDs do recommend that women attempt to regain their pre-pregnancy weight. And, typically, it gets much more difficult to lose that pregnancy weight the longer it is after the pregnancy. Such things as breastfeeding, for example, help with weight loss. So, are we arguing that losing pregnancy weight is a bad thing, or are we arguing that it is only a bad thing when the intent is purely narcissistic? As for your broader points, all very true about women, girls, self image, etc... All problematic, but issues that have existed as long as human society has. There is a genetic element to all of this. We are designed to reproduce (most feminists like to forget that of course). And, by the way, there are plenty of teenage boys standing in front of mirrors and lifting weights and dressing well, trying to make themselves more attractive to their female peers. "Momshell" ...so dumb I have to chuckle!
Jason Trask September 14, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Dr. Laurel Schwartz September 14, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Dear J. Bauer, Thank you for your interesting comments. As for losing post-pregnancy weight, it is like much in life - it's all in the timing.
Canaanite September 14, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I believe what we are talking about here is the pressure (mostly seen in the celebrity world) to bounce back from pregnancy as soon as possible. This has nothing to do with the normal medical advice about breastfeeding and staying active (which all mothers are anyway) and losing the weight before it sticks for good . . . it has to do with the unrealistic expectations that either women place on themselves, or others (media, friends, husbands, etc) place on them, to look like a Barbie doll a month after giving birth . . . That is not natural, not healthy and in all but a few cases, not even possible. If you're one of those people great. If you're not, so freaking what . . . you just created a life . . . Cut yourself some slack and focus on your baby instead of your waistline. That will take care of itself. (Unless you're addicted to sweets and salt . . . in which case you probably weren't that thin before pregnancy either.)
Glenn Wolff, LCSW October 29, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Great article!


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