I’M going to say something rather shocking.
Something that some beauty companies and marketeers as well as female-bashing media appear not to want any new mum to say. It’s pretty radical. Are you ready?
Ok here goes…
I love my post pregnancy body.
Yep, you heard right. I don’t hate it. I’m not disgusted or horrified by it. I’m not insecure about it. And I don’t just like it.
I love it.
Twelve months ago, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, all 8 pounds 4 ounces of her. When I look at my body now and compare it with pictures of when I was pregnant, it’s hard to believe that I once looked like that, that my bump was as magnificent and as large as it was. But I did. And it was. (See above for the proof!)
I absolutely loved being pregnant. First few months aside, I had a really happy and healthy pregnancy and generally felt great. I loved seeing my body change and took great pride in watching my bump grow bigger every day, knowing that I was growing an incredibly precious life.
But whilst I was happy with my changing pregnant body, I couldn’t help but worry and think about what my body would look like after pregnancy.
Would my stomach look horrendous? Would my tummy button, that had become an ‘outie’, ever go back in? Would I get stretchmarks? Would my boobs ever be as pert as they had been? How much weight would I put on and would I ever get rid of it?
Some people told me my body would never be the same again, others commented on how – because of my big bump – I’d be lucky to ever get my stomach back and many, many women shared their post pregnancy body struggles with me.
And so naturally I expected the worst.
But yet, a year after giving birth, I’m now declaring that I love my post pregnancy body. Which I do.
Want to be even more shocked? I’d even go so far as to say that I actually prefer my body as it is now to how it was before I was pregnant. Crazy ey?
To be absolutely clear, my body is not perfect. There are areas which could definitely do with a little improvement. And yes, like most mums, I do indeed have a few stretchmarks.
My stomach does not look horrendous as I had feared, my tummy button did go back in, my boobs are still pretty damn pert and the weight I did put on whilst pregnant has now disappeared thanks to a few months of healthy eating and a lot of walking with Elsie in her pram.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m actually now slimmer than I was before I got pregnant, the slimmest I’ve been in years in fact. I’m even back wearing old wardrobe favourites that I thought would never see the light of day again.
I haven’t stepped foot in a gym or workout establishment in well over a year but yet my arms and legs are still toned thanks to carrying and lifting Elsie and even though I breastfed for months, my boobs are still looking perky (hurrah!) and have even gone back to their original size.
The stretchmarks I gained are now barely noticeable but yet thankfully, just visible enough for me to see them and be able to trace them with my fingers as I marvel at how they were created. And yes, I said thankfully. I worked hard for Elsie’s lifelines and they are an imperfect but beautiful reminder of that and her existence.
So why tell you this? Why share how I feel about my body now? Why indeed, should you even care?
Well here’s the thing. When I was pregnant, I never thought, not once, that I might love my figure after. The best I expected was that I might like it, the worst was that I would have to tolerate or accept it.
Just stop and think about that for a second or two. Isn’t that sad?
I truly thought that losing my body shape was a price I would probably have to pay for becoming a mum and fully expected my body to be somewhat of a mess afterwards. But now, 12 months on, I’m pretty embarrassed to admit, that actually my thoughts were wrong. Totally wrong. For my body is not a mess at all. In fact, it’s pretty damn marvellous.
A little bruised, a little altered, a little marked forever yes. But marvellous all the same.
When it comes to women and body image, what we generally hear, see and get told, is always just so depressingly negative. And I, for one, am tired of it.
I’m sick of the constant messages that say that we are not good enough. That our boobs aren’t big enough, that our thighs aren’t thin enough, that our bums aren’t shapely enough.
I’m sick of seeing female celebrity bodies being critiqued and ripped apart by the media.
I’m sick of this unhealthy obsession the whole world seems to have with the quest for perfection and the idea that somehow we should all look the same and fit a mould.
And more than any of these, I’m sick and tired of pregnant women being made to feel ashamed for putting on a little weight or for new mums made to feel inadequate for not shifting it quick enough.
This is why I’m telling my story. As an ordinary woman. As an ordinary mum.
Because the way I feel about my body now, post pregnancy, post childbirth, seems to be somewhat unusual. Perhaps even a little extraordinary. And that makes me feel even sadder.
By sharing my experience, my hope is that new mums and mums to be will realise that you don’t have to hate your post pregnancy body. That they’ll see that it is possible to feel good about their body again after having a baby. That they’ll relax a little about any weight gain, knowing that they’ll be able to lose any weight they may have gained (if they want to!) when they’re good and ready.
That they’ll realise that they are still beautiful even though their body shape may have changed. That they’ll know that they can feel confident in their skimpy undies again and that one day they will! And that it is very possible to feel proud of your stretch marks and learn to appreciate their imperfect beauty.
I did consider posting a picture of myself, as I am now, post pregnancy, to accompany this piece but in the end I decided not to. Because this piece isn’t about validation or what other people may say or think about how I look. It’s all about how I feel about myself.
Today, when I look at myself in the mirror, as a mum, as a woman in her thirties, I’m happy with what I see.
I feel gratitude. I feel pride. And most importantly, I feel love.
I really hope you feel the same.
Till the next time, make the most of what you have but always, always be grateful for what you’ve got.