My search for post-partum body confidence…
Pregnancy is a huge deal. Physically and mentally. The mental side of being pregnant and giving birth and suddenly being a mum is a whole other story. But the physical changes to your post-partum body that you have to deal with when you have a baby are insane, and something that I was 100% not expecting.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect my body to be the same after I found out I was expecting a baby and I didn’t expect to just ‘snap back’ after giving birth. But the way I felt about my body after having a baby shocked me. I felt like I was looking at someone else’s body after giving birth – the body I saw in the mirror was alien and strange. I hated what I saw. There wasn’t one part of it that I liked.
People would say “be proud – you made a baby that’s amazing” or “be proud of your stripes you earned them”. And as nice as people’s intentions are, it means nothing when you feel the way you do about your body. Suddenly, every aspect of your body is different, and (probably) bigger and more wobbly and more marked than before. And how are you supposed to feel? Grateful? Proud? Well, I didn’t.
I couldn’t have hated my post-partum body more if I tried. I cringed or cried if I saw myself in the mirror when I went in the shower. In fact, on more than one occasion in the early days I blubbed like a baby (ironically) in the shower at the sight of my new body. I couldn’t get my head around the amount of weight I gained and the fact that I had still had a belly – I pushed a baby out already so why do I still look 3 months pregnant at 15 weeks post-partum?! (In fact why do I look that way at 15 months post partum?! Ha!)
Accepting my post-partum body is not something that has come to me quickly or easily. There are still days where I look in the mirror and HATE what I see or am instantly drawn to the negative parts of my body. There are days where I get changed 10 times and just decide it’s easier not to go out and have a lazy day at home. Days where I make a vow to myself to stick to Slimming world and lose all that weight. Then there are the days where I look in the mirror and I think “YES! I look good!” Not very often I’ll admit, but those days are great. The days where I leave the house feeling almost confident. The days where I’m not totally self conscious are great.
When it clicked…
One of the days that this clicked for me was when I took Stanley swimming for the first time. I’d been so excited to take him but a part of me was close to not going because I was that self conscious. Yep! I almost didn’t bother with a fabulous experience just because I was worrying what people might think of me in a swimming costume! Ridiculous! And I realised there’s probably hundreds of mums out there feeling exactly the same as me, and that’s not ok.
So I took a photo of myself in my swimming costume and posted it on my Instagram page. Granted, I used Stanley as a comfort blanket but I actually posted a picture where you could see my belly, you could see my thighs (in fact, you can’t miss them, ha!) and you can see my stretch marks. I was nervous posting it but if one self conscious mum saw that and felt better then that’s amazing!! And the response I had from other women and mums over on Instagram was lovely too! I may not be there entirely with my acceptance of my body but this was a huge step. 6 months ago I NEVER would have even considered taking this photo, let alone posting it!
A big thing when it comes to post-partum body confidence, for me at least, was feeling like I’d totally lost my own sense of style after having a baby. I stopped wearing certain clothes because I felt like I shouldn’t wear them because I was a mum and didn’t have the body for them now. It’s a long process and 15 months down the line, I still feel like I’m finding my feet again. I’m very slowly starting to find my style again and starting to wear what I like and I feel confident and happy in. I’m getting back into make-up more too, which is nice! You can read about my everyday make-up essentials here.
Weight loss hang-ups…
I’ve been following Slimming World on and off for months. I do want to lose weight, I do want to tone up and be prouder of my body. But I find it hard to stick to. The stress of a toddler, of being tired 24/7 and just sheer lack of will power all seem to lead me to being on plan for a few weeks followed by a few weeks of being off plan (and putting any weight I lost back on).
But…I am currently looking at my body and thinking F*CK it! I did make a baby. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was that he was born because I still deal with him every damn day. It doesn’t matter how long ago that happened because my body still did that – I GREW A HUMAN!!! And that is pretty damn amazing. So, yes, there are days where I can’t appreciate that and I despise what I see in the mirror, but I’m only human. But regardless of whether I can see it or not, my body did something amazing.
If any of my mum friends (or any one for that matter, mums or not) told me they hate their body I’d tell them to shut up and that they’re amazing. So it’s time to start living by the words we’d give to our friends!!
We all have our body hang ups, of course we do, but we are who we are and we’ve got to at least try and practise a bit of self love from time to time! How do you feel about your postpartum body? Are you in a place where you can start to accept it?