THIS Is Why We Should Be Proud Of Our Postpartum Bodies
Carrying a baby for forty weeks – or more if you go overdue! – can really make some serious changes to your body.
Your stomach area, hips and thighs expand at such an alarming rate in order to facilitate this little human growing inside you, that it can often result in stretch marks, saggy skin which may or may not return to it's former glory and your boobs change shape from feeding, or from expansion during pregnancy (my tiny boobs were humongous!)
And that is not to mention the C-Section mums who have all that post-op scarring to deal with.
As women, we seem to be pre-programmed to give a damn about our physical appearance. It isn't that we strive for perfection (whatever that is), but we are keen to be the best version of ourselves as possible.
It is then often the case that when we take a good look at our bodies after birthing babies, we can get upset because we don't really have much control over how it looks any more.
I put on two stone when I was pregnant with my first child and two and a half with my second. I didn't have any C-section scarring or terribly bad stretch marks to deal with, but it did take me a full year after each child was born to get back to pre-baby weight.
(To be clear, I don't think I'll ever get back to my pre-baby shape, but I'm happy enough with the weight bit for now!)
But here's the thing: that old obsession I used to have about striving for the 'perfect figure', is gone.
I no longer worry if I'm a little bit wobbly here and there.
I no longer wonder if I look good enough for my partner (although I do like that man's attention when I'm looking particularly well for a night out!)
I no longer have space in my head for any nonsense about whether I'm wearing the right thing, or the wrong thing, or if someone in the room doesn't like my shoes.
Since having kids, I have turned my on-going battle with my body to squeeze into this dress, or look good in those jeans, or tottle along in those sky-high heels into something like.. bodily pride.
I know it might sound weird, but after I had Jacob, I developed this kind of new-and-improved relationship with my body. I was so amazed at all it and I had achieved together, in carrying and birthing this new human being. A real, living, human being - I mean, how amazing!
And not only that, but my body recovered from the event and was able to feed the baby and eventually, when I felt strong enough after a few months, I was able to get out and walk and dance and exercise until I could fit back into my jeans again.. this is also known as 'the best day EVAH!!'
I think it was that moment, when I got back to 'myself' and my pre-baby weight, that I really felt kind of empowered in a way that I had never felt before. It gave me a confidence as a woman that I wished I'd had all along.
If you are pregnant or have just had a baby and are worried about getting your body back to normal after having babies, my advice is this:
1. Don't be too hard on yourself
You and your body have just been through an amazing change and a huge upheaval so don't be under too much pressure to 'bounce back'. Your back might hurt or you may be exhausted from night time feeds, so take care of yourself and your health first before worrying about losing that baby weight.
2. Give it a year to get back on track
We are always told to wait for six weeks after birth before getting back to exercise, or if you've had a C-section, to drive again or lift anything heavy. I think it indicates that you are to be somehow 'normal' by the time your baby is six weeks old and it SO isn't the case. It took you a year to grow that baby, so give it a year to let your body settle back down, lose weight and tone up again.
3. Avoid the celeb pics
Please don't look at celebrities who are bikini ready five seconds after their babies are born and think that is normal. They have money and liposuction and night time nannies and photoshop. Liar liars pants on...
4. No body is quite like yours
Don't compare yourself to others who don't have the same kind of lifestyle as you. For example, if you're not into exercise, then you shouldn't really aspire to the same kind of physical results as someone who runs marathons or were very physically fit before having babies.
5. Enjoy your moment
The most important thing for now is that you are a new parent with this gorgeous new baby and they want nothing more than to be with a happy mum. So try not to worry too much about your post-pregnancy body until you have the time and wherewithal to address is. For now, have snuggles, take naps together, enjoy your cuppa and biscuits when you're tired - all the other stuff can wait!
How do you feel about your postpartum body? Let us know in the comments and check out Afterbirth: 5 times I was completely baffled by my body after having a baby