From Angelina Jolie to Katie Holmes, Hollywood's recent baby boom has been making headlines and, some argue, changing our pop culture notion of motherhood. In the past year, there have been a slew of books published with titles like “I'm too Sexy for My Volvo: A Mom's Guide to Staying Fabulous” and “The Hot Mom's Handbook: Moms Have More Fun!” There's even an online “Hot Moms Club” catering to “empowered, confident mothers … committed to boldly redefining motherhood.” Being sexy, stylish, and a mommy is in.
But is looking fabulous post-baby a fair expectation for everyday mothers? The image of a well-rested, highly manicured celeb mother is a far cry from many moms’ day-to-day lives. Fitting into you post-pregnancy jeans just weeks after giving birth, keeping your cool as your two-year-old has a meltdown, or feeling sexy after an all night feeding is no easy task. In fact, many new mothers suffer postpartum depression. Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and a show contributor, was invited on “Today” to discuss more realistic expectations for new moms:
Many celebrities are having babies and shortly afterwards wearing sexy dresses on the red carpet to show off their hot bodies. Unfortunately, these images make women feel even more pressure to immediately return to their pre-pregnancy form. And even though celebrity magazines make it seem like this is easy for stars to do, it isn’t.
We are talking about two issues — weight and body shape. There is nothing wrong with healthy dieting and exercise to regain your shape. But there is something wrong if you’re barely postpartum and you’re doing too much too fast — breast feeding, following a strict diet, and exercising too much. And there’s something wrong, if you’re afraid your spouse won’t find you attractive or desire you unless you have your pre-pregnancy body.
Being a new mom also means sexual changes. Nursing means leaky breasts and vaginal dryness. And a having a new baby means you’ll be more tired and a maybe experience a temporary drop in libido. This can be hard to reconcile feelings of wanting to be a mommy and a sexual partner. But if you feel pressure to be a sex kitten right away, it may make it even harder for you to be a mother and lover. On the other hand, dressing nicely for an evening out with your husband or having a romantic night at home with him is important for you as a sexual woman.
Remember celebrities’ careers depend on going crash diets to get back in shape, wearing fabulous gowns, and, of course, being air brushed in photos. But you have the luxury to be realistic. You can have milky breasts, carry an extra 5 or 10 pounds for a while, and fully enjoy your new body. So make allowances for being tired, for not being in the mood for sex, and feeling somewhat harried. If you have to be perfect, you are asking for misery.
Sure, you can be a new mom and a hot mama. But if you want to be happy, this means setting reasonable goals. Here are a few tips:
- Have Realistic expectations.
- Set reasonable diet and exercise goals
- Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone is different. Everyone’s bodies and feelings move at different paces.
- Focus on what you do feel positively about. Fatigue makes it easy to become self critical and lose sight of your accomplishment. Don’t step into this trap.
left/msnbc/Components/Photos/060406/060406_anatomy_vmed_2p.jpg2658100000left#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.com1PfalsefalseDr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital and a regular contributor to “Today.” Her latest book is “Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie,” by Dr. Gail Saltz. She is also the author of "Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts," which helps parents deal with preschoolers' questions about sex and reproduction. Her first book, “Becoming Real: Overcoming the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” was published in 2004 by Riverhead Books. It is now available in a paperback version. For more information, you can visit her Web site, www.drgailsaltz.com.