This Mom's Before-and-After Photo Reminds Us That Every "Bounce Back" Is Different

While it seems like Instagram is filled with photos of moms and their shockingly fit postpartum bodies, one mom just got incredibly real about her own "bounce back," and it's a refreshing perspective that we can all appreciate. Kristen Sullivan recently shared side-by-side photos of her postpartum body on Instagram, and although she debated sharing the photo for days, she did it to spread a powerful message of how all bodies react differently after giving birth.

"The left pic is 3 days before I delivered Gavin (my 2nd child), the right pic is 3 weeks postpartum," she captioned the photo above. "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."

The mom of two agrees that there are so many impressive postpartum-body photos on social media, but "while that's wonderful for them, for many others, KNOW that it's not realistic!"

Kristen told POPSUGAR that she wants her photo to serve as a reminder to mothers and mothers-to-be "that our main focus after birth should not automatically be how we get our bodies back to the way they were," and she also wants to teach people what diastasis recti can look like.

She will not know for sure until six weeks postpartum if she has the medical condition that can leave new moms looking and feeling pregnant even months after giving birth, but Kristen thinks she does and she's "determined to get the PT I need to heal." (Diastasis recti can be treated with specific exercise programs.)

"I've also been wearing a postpartum corset for extra support," she said. "But in the meantime, 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!!"

Kristen's refreshing perspective on her "bounce back" game has other moms praising her for her honesty, with one Instagram user writing that she looks amazing: "All I see is a woman who recently gave birth, whose uterus did its job and is still working hard doing its job!"

But no matter how many uplifting comments her post garnered, Kristen has still received her fair share of negativity over the photo, so she wants to clarify a few things about her pregnancy. Kristen told POPSUGAR that she took great care of herself throughout her second pregnancy; she "exercised and ate right" and "very much took care of my skin in that area beforehand."

Just like everyone's postpartum body is different, Kristen's body recovered differently with her first child. "I have a petite frame and my baby was 8 pounds, 9 ounces at birth," she told us. "I carried much differently with my first pregnancy and 'bounced back' quickly with no stretch marks, so I get it. I'm not saying it's not realistic, I'm saying everyone has a different postpartum journey and it's all normal."