The funny thing about being a parent is… that for women, our bodies may never be the same after giving birth – again – ever!
The other night I watched ‘The Portland Hospital’ and was so disappointed with the young, 24 year old Fashion Designer and how she said how men may go looking for another woman if their wives bodies didn’t return back to normal -no stretchmarks, fat belly (not her exact words but this is the gist of it) and she was clearly afraid that this might happen to her. For me, the first thing that sprang to mind was ‘Seriously, your husband loves you for who you are, not your body’ especially not after bringing a child into the world. I was disappointed that that is what she believed. I was disappointed that, that actual thought was in her head and she was mulling it over and put it out there for everyone to hear. No woman should think like that! We are all beautiful. End of. If he doesn’t like you for a stretch mark, then so long and you shouldn’t cry over it!
For any mother that’s carried a baby, we all know that the child inside, the little life that is relying on you to survive, has done turns, somersaults, swung out of your ribs, kicked you in the lungs and stomach. That little life made your tummy grow into a protective little (or big in my case) shell. One which you put your hand on daily. One which people looked at so lovingly. One where you could actually see them moving on a daily basis. That original flutter of feeling those first teeny kicks. I could always feel these flutters when she heard the tube pulling into the station as the noise disturbed her! Or when you were sitting at the desk and had to move back as the baby was being slightly squished. Feeling the baby squirm and move around is amazing, but it’s also doing something to your body!
As a mother, your boobs grew and grew and grew. Gone were the nice bras and knickers. Gone were the underwired bras as they hurt too much. In with the maternity bras that were there just as a teeny tiny support, as let’s face it, they were still uncomfortable as hell and our boobs just rested on the bump! I already have naturally big boobs, and so being pregnant, made them grow and grow and grow! I did try and find nice underwear, but come on-sometimes you just want comfort! And that’s allowed. It’s not easy carrying all that extra weight around is it? But, when you’re pregnant, you can wear those skin tight dresses and show off that bump without feeling like you’ve slightly over indulged in some dinner and have a food baby, as you’ve got a real baby in there! A real living baby who you are proud to show off!
There’s been so much in the media focusing on what’s right for a woman’s body to look like after birth, but it really is completely down to the woman herself. Some women bounce back to their pre-pregnancy body pretty sharpish, some don’t, and no one has any right to judge.
If you’ve had a C-Section, you really can’t do much until the scar heals completely. If you’ve had a natural birth, you’re going to be sore. If you had an episiotomy, you’ll be sore down there for a few weeks/months. Stretchmarks take time to fade. The belly takes time to get back to its normal size. Your boobs may never be the same again. But each person is different. In London, I didn’t have the time to get to the gym, the hubby worked long hours and would sometimes leave the house at 6am and not arrive home until 9pm and all the while, I had a baby who fed all the time and was on the go constantly. Then I went back to work-I probably could have gone to the gym on my lunchbreak, but most days I’d have stuff to do and would generally work through lunch or just get out for a walk.
I think, we as society need to change our children’s perception on what is beautiful. I’ve always had stetchmarks. I’ve had them on my legs, butt, hips and boobs. It’s completely down to our skin not being elastic enough and growth spurts. I used to be able to wear those skintight dresses with ease, even after a huge meal (and I still had stretchmarks underneath that no-one saw). I rubbed my bump all the time with oils, skin creams and still got stretchmarks. They are fading, but now I just dress appropriately for how I feel on the day. I have days where I dread trying on clothes as some shops are shrinking the size of their clothes, so in some shops I’ll be 14, in others a 16-18 and if I’m lucky, a 12 in some! I’ve still not bounced back to my pre-baby body. I’m not sure I ever will.
Once you practice a healthy lifestyle, and bring your kids up the right way, who are others to judge you. The media has no right to influence what the perfect woman should look like, they have no right whatsoever judge women on what they look like during pregnancy or after. All that matters is that they’re healthy. Creating this idealistic view will only serve us to influence our offspring negatively.
Whether you’re in the media spotlight or not, it shouldn’t matter because we don’t know the story behind every single pregnancy do we? These women are bringing the future of the world to life, and to do that, their bodies are under immense strain. The childbirth alone puts some amount of pressure on the body. When pregnant, everything inside you shifts. And with this, comes a shift to how your body was before. For me, I have a constant ache in my lower back. It’s one of the side affects of the epidural. I didn’t actually plan on having the epidural but after 20 hours in labour, I needed to be induced in a way as I was not progressing in labour. But it was a rick I had to take as they were planning an emergency C-Section. So my body has never been the same. My boobs have gone up a couple of sizes (and everytime I get them measured, people tell me I had it well?!).
My husband still loves me for me. Stretchmarks, pot-belly and big boobs all included. I believe that when you love someone enough and see them go through that much pain(no matter what type of birth) and trauma to bring a life into the world, they’ll love you forever for being that brave and beautiful.
No one has the right to judge anyone’s body shape or size. But unfortunately we live in a world where people think they do.If anyone takes anything from this post, it’s to think twice before saying anything to people about their weight at all, as you just don’t know what demons they may be battling on the inside. We are all human. We all have feelings. To create a positive body image for you and your family, you need to feel confident and if you feel you need to shed a few pounds, do it the right way, by eating healthily and getting regular exercise -even a quick walk. I get off the train a stop early which means I walk an extra 15 minutes, not much but it’s a start!
Enjoy your kids and don’t let other people’s perception of beauty cloud your judgement.