When you first get pregnant everyone loves to tell you how much your body is going to change, and how exciting that is. You’re praised for 9 months when you look a little bigger and rounder than the week before. ‘GOOD JOB YOU, YOU’RE GROWING A HUMAN!’ But as soon as that baby is in your arms and not your stomach the judging eyes appear and the kind words turn into something a little more sinister. ‘Oh, still got that baby weight then?’ ‘So will you start working out or are you going full on mum now?’
Why do we do this to eachother? Especially women! We’ve done something so incredibly amazing! We’ve literally created life from nothing, if that’s not an achievement I don’t know what is. But we don’t treat eachother, or ourselves, with enough kindness when it comes to our postpartum bodies.
For 9 months your body has been stretched to it’s absolute limits, inside and out, and then suddenly the thing it’s spent all this time growing to accomodate is gone! So your skin sags a little, and for the first few weeks you still look a kind of pregnant. Maybe your boobs are bigger and your waist is wider or maybe you have stretch marks where there once was clear, smooth skin. It changes every woman differently. We should be celebrating eachother for it!! Maybe instead of ‘still got a bit to lose have we?’ you could say ‘hey, I see you’ve got some stretch marks and loose skin, you made a person, that’s amazing, good job!’
I’ve struggled with my body for as long as I can remeber. At age 4 I gave myself an eating disorder, all beacause a little boy in my nursery called me fat. After years of therapy and watching my family cry every meal time I managed to overcome it to a degree. I could eat food and enjoy it but the body dysmorphia was still there, it still is and to be honest I’m not sure it will ever fully go away.
Knowing all that you can imagine how frightened I was of what my postpartum body would look like. More than anything I was afraid that whatever I saw in the mirror after having my baby would make me want to stop eating again. But it didn’t! After I had my first daughter my stomach went down ridiculously fast! By the time I left the birthing centre any sign of a bump was practically gone, so much so that some of the midwives joked that I was never even pregnant. I still found flaws in myself but I was pretty chuffed that I could wear my pre-pregnancy jeans at 3 days postpartum!
With my second daughter I didn’t have that fear of my post baby body. I thought I would snap back just as fast. Now, realistically I have, I’m 5 weeks postpartum as I write this and, although I no longer fit my pre-pregnancy clothes, my stomach is pretty flat and I look like myself again. However, when I saw myself in the mirror after returning home with Zelda-Mae I was devastated! I looked about 30 weeks pregnant, my boobs were ridiculously enormous and my skin was smooshy and saggy. I didn’t want my husband to look at me, I kept checking the mirror every morning in hopes that the belly would just be gone already.
But as the weeks passed my stomach did shrink, much to my dismay my boobs did not. Today I look in the mirror and I see a body that has been through two pregnancies pretty close together, survived years of neglect and punishment and come out looking, realistically, not half bad. So my boobs look waaaaay too big for my body, and my stomach is a bit more squishy than I would like, and for some reason my belly button is now very dark brown?, I’m trying my best to love it! This body gave me my girls and that’s the greatest gift I’ve ever recieved!
So here’s to our bodies, the lumpy ones, the squishy ones, the stripey ones and the small ones. We love you for all you do for us. I hope one day I feel as confident in my own body as I want my girls to be!
Thank you for reading, and stay strong Muma’s!