Back in 2015, I was an exhausted new mom who was desperate for any kind of support. I had gained 50 pounds while growing my daughter, and the new plus-sized body I was getting to know was barely recognizable to me. My brain also felt unbearably foggy, my hormones were dancing through me like a rollercoaster, and the postpartum blues were hitting me hard.
In the midst of my struggles, a mom friend gave me a recommendation that would ultimately change the course of my life. She told me about a few amazing Instagram pages I could check out that openly discussed the postpartum experience. All of a sudden, my isolated little corner of the world had become an international community of other moms who were all going through what I was experiencing. Thanks to those brave women on social media, I was inspired to begin a two-year journey that led to wholeheartedly loving every inch of myself.
It’s now 2018, and I’m eight weeks shy of giving birth to my son. While I have plenty of concerns about being a new mother again, accepting and embracing myself isn’t one of them. Because just like my growing mom bod, my online community has expanded yet again with a powerful new hashtag that is uplifting and comforting mamas everywhere.
Meet Meghan Boggs, a plus-size blogger who is bound and determined to make sure no mom feels left out of the postpartum conversation. After consciously losing 100 pounds prior to conceiving her daughter Maci, the Texas native felt disappointed and confused by how her body responded to her pregnancy.
“Even though I worked out and ate healthy until I was 36 weeks pregnant, I still gained almost all of my weight back, putting me right back at square one,” she tells Babble. “I didn’t have any complications throughout my pregnancy, but I was feeling frustrated with my body for gaining the weight back despite my efforts.”
Hoping to find support, Boggs began searching for Instagram accounts showing moms with plus-size bodies that looked just like hers. No matter how hard she looked, however, she kept being reminded of the total lack of online representation for larger-bodied moms.
“I always feel as though plus-size mothers are never part of the postpartum conversation,” the mom explains. “So many mothers like me just don’t feel comfortable enough to share their heart and journey.”
Boggs wanted to be the last mom she knew who felt unseen and unheard, and she was also longing to publicly celebrate new moms of every size, shape, and condition. Yet, while she loved sharing her own postpartum journey on Instagram, she knew she had to think bigger this time around.
“I wanted mothers to feel less alone and see someone similar to them who they can relate to,” she says. “I wanted this to spread in a way where others would join in, so that the mother out there who was feeling how I felt would open up her Instagram and feel like she can love her postpartum body too.”
That’s when the hashtag #this_is_postpartum was born.
The goal of the movement is simple: Moms are encouraged to post photos and words about their individual postpartum experiences, and every kind of mama is welcome to share.
“The more that join in, the more experiences [there are] to relate to,” Boggs explains.”And that is the mission — to positively impact the lives of as many women and mothers as possible to know and understand that they are not alone in their experiences and struggles.”
In less than a week, the hashtag has already picked up steam, with hundreds of women bravely sharing real-life photos of their post-birth bodies.
One such mom is Katie Crenshaw, a Georgia-based mother of three who is a huge advocate of embracing every aspect of motherhood, no matter how seemingly ugly or painful. When Boggs invited her to join a movement centered around acceptance, the fellow blogger didn’t hesitate to jump in.
“After becoming a mother, women are desperately seeking normalcy,” Crenshaw tells Babble. “They want to know that someone else feels or looks like they do. They need a village who is willing to be the raw image of postpartum, and I hope that we are starting a trend to be that online ‘village.’”
While it certainly feels amazing to see such an outpouring of connection, Boggs knows that her “village” is only as strong as its most vulnerable member. In fact, that’s why she will always hold one particular mom close to her heart — a woman who has become her number one reason to share her journey.
“Over the summer, I received a direct message that honestly changed me,” says Boggs. “It was a mother who was responding to one of my posts where I’m sharing about loving my body. She was contemplating ending her life at four months postpartum, but [she] read my words and second guessed herself.”
The new mom had struggled with body acceptance prior to giving birth, but dealing with a combination of postpartum depression and weight gain became too overwhelming for her to bear. Thankfully, she reached out to Boggs online, and the two women spent hours connecting over their mutual struggles.
After realizing the impact one single post could make on another mom’s life, Boggs knew she had to keep up with her work.
“Just because something doesn’t change millions of lives or change the entire world doesn’t mean it can’t change just one,” she says. “And every life is a life worth saving.”
I can say with full confidence that Boggs has already changed more than one mom’s life. Thanks to this courageous blogger, mothers like me all over the world can face the postpartum experience armed with so much love and support.