Loving your body after having kids can be really tough, I know it was for me. Your body goes through so much change during and after pregnancy that it can be hard to accept how your new body looks. Your body confidence can be so easily affected.
On top of that we have to deal with all the other stuff going on. Raging hormones, sleep deprivation and the overwhelming feelings of being a new mum (ranging from utter joy to I have no clue what I’m doing.)
Pregnancy was hard. I wasn’t one of those women who blossomed. I threw up for 6 weeks solid. 160 times to be precise – I counted. My husband called it my dark period. Bless him – I don’t think he knew what to do.
I lost weight and looked and felt terrible. Once I stopped being ill, I started to put weight on and I began to feel big and heavy. I found it hard to walk. Getting proper sleep was tough. I didn’t like my body and what it was putting me through. As a result, my body confidence was pretty low at this point. This is the only photo I can find of me with my about-to-pop belly – sorry, it’s not a very good pic.
After The Birth
I was hugely naive and expected the birth to be easy but after 48 hours in labour my birth plan went out of the window.
My son arrived and was thankfully healthy. I was knackered. The postpartum period was filled with the joys of a new born mixed with leaky boobs (though I was impressed with their size) and huge sanitary towels.
I remember looking down at my tummy after the birth and expecting it to be somehow flat but it looked like there was still a baby in it. No one tells you all this.
I wish that I had taken some photos of my body to share (though it wasn’t on the top of my to do list at the time) as I just don’t think there is enough awareness of the changes that our bodies go through – and what our bodies actually look like after giving birth. If you’re feeling brave, send me a photo and I can create a future post.
Within a couple of months, my body seemed to spring back into pre-baby shape and I was overjoyed. Apologies for admitting to both of those things. My body confidence was on its way up.
Revenge Second Time Round
Second time round was different. My beautiful daughter has left me with stretch marks, cellulite, and this funny, saggy skin on my stomach. Oh and a lovely varicose vein on my leg – can’t forget that! Revenge for anyone that I had previously annoyed.
My pelvic floor is unsalvageable even though I did pelvic floor exercises. Certain things are no longer recommended. Trampolining with the kids is a bit of a no-no.
I was 40 when I had my last child.
Why Am I Expecting the Body of a 20-Year-Old?
But it kind of makes me laugh. I’ve been through 2 pregnancies. I have been blessed with 2 healthy children. My body has been amazingly functional and I am hugely grateful. So, why am I expecting to have the body of a 20-year-old (joking but you know what I mean)?
Honesty is needed. I’m never going to have the body I used to have. Never and why would I? I’m 46 for goodness sake. I need to own up to the ageing process too – and embrace it.
I’m getting older, my body is getting older and you know what, bring it on! There is no reason why my body confidence can’t be high and why I can’t feel good about who I am.
Yes, it can be tough following the birth and for months (years?) after, as our expectations about how our bodies should be, aren’t really met.
But often we have unrealistic expectations. I know I did. And that’s not my fault necessarily. There is a lot of pressure on women these days to look a certain way after giving birth and quite frankly, it’s unfair and wrong.
Pregnancy is a time in our lives fraught with both anxiety and happiness. We have to deal with the fact that our lives have literally been turned upside down and our bodies have morphed into something not quite recognisable.
We don’t need the added pressure of thinking about how we look or realising that our bodies haven’t yet returned to pre-baby shape and that we need to do something about it, and quick!
Why can’t we be allowed to enjoy the time we have with our baby, without feeling the need to conform to body stereotypes?
Loving Your Body After Pregnancy
My body may not look like it used to but I feel confident about my body now – and I encourage you to feel the same.
I have been left with pregnancy war wounds as have all the mums I know. But I’m fit and healthy and this is what is important.
I’ve been lucky to have children. Yes, I’ve had 2 kids and my body looks different but that’s all part and parcel of having kids.
As I write this, I’m sat on a beach in Palma, Majorca. I’m wearing a bikini.
I love feeling the sun on my skin. As I look around, I can see women of all shapes and sizes. Most have cellulite – I’ve realised cellulite affects all ages. A lot have rounded tummies (and that’s just the men). Many have stretch marks (again, all ages).
And those whose body confidence is good (you can tell by how they hold themselves) aren’t necessarily those with stereotypical great bodies.
Let’s Be More Positive
I know it’s often easier said than done but don’t you think it’s time to be more positive about our bodies and to be kinder to ourselves?
- Why should we feel embarrassed or ashamed if motherhood has left us with less than perfect bodies! It’s completely natural (which I think we forget) and it happens to us all.
- Let’s not bow to pressure from the media to look a certain way especially when we all are different sizes and shapes. There is no right way to look.
- Please refuse to let an airbrushed image of a celebrity, define how you feel about your own body. Remember that the pictures you see in magazines (or even on social media) are likely to have been edited – so please become more critical and less accepting of what you see.
- And finally, stop the comparisons. You are you. Your body is unique. I know that sounds a little cliched. Comparing your body to someone else’s though is a waste of time and a huge drain on your mental wellbeing. And it usually only ends up with us feeling crap about our bodies.
Embrace your body – get that bikini on! 🙂
Let me know how pregnancy affected your body confidence. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.