Long Island mom Kristen Sullivan is going viral—for getting real about her postpartum body. On Instagram, Sullivan reveals a powerful set of photos that tell the truth about what’s like to live in a body that has just given birth to a human. And other mothers are deeply connecting to her and her post.
Sullivan’s Instagram post from Aug. 20 has over 3,000 likes. In it, she shares two side-by-side photos of herself in the same black-and-gray striped bra: one taken three days before giving birth to her second child, Gavin, and one three weeks postpartum.
She writes: “I’m sharing this to show moms that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re thin, ate right and exercised during pregnancy, sometimes your body grows in such a way that simply doesn’t allow you to “bounce back” in friggen 3 weeks.”
Sullivan’s goal was to provide a counterpoint to media and celebrity narratives of “bouncing back” quickly after pregnancy. She writes, “I feel like all I’ve been seeing is new moms sharing their amazing postpartum bods, 11 days after birth, 2 weeks after birth, etc. And while that’s wonderful for them, for many others, KNOW that it’s not realistic!” She added, “I’m giving my body a chance to breathe. Did you SEE how far my belly stretched?! There is no race to bounce back moms. We’ll get there!!”
She went on to share her suspicions that she has diastasis recti, a common postpartum complication in which the abdominal muscles separate. There’s been increasing attention lately to this condition, due to a recent NPR article.
Physical therapy and exercise can eventually help strengthen the abdomen. But that doesn’t mean Sullivan is in any rush to leave her newborn and start exercising. Sullivan, who runs family T-shirt company Threadrock, told US Weekly: “For new moms dealing with their hormones and all the pressures of being a new mom, they should know that they aren’t alone. I ate right and exercised throughout the majority of my pregnancy. Women need to know that sometimes you can put in all that work and still not get your pre-baby body back right away or even at all and that’s OK. Our main focus after giving birth should be to rest, recover and bond with our babies.”
Hear, hear! We’re fully in support of Sullivan’s radical honesty and self-loving message to mothers everywhere.