Since Ted has been born, I’ve learned to love my body way beyond how I ever loved it before. I remember venturing out and about in those first few months as a mum and bumping into people I knew, and always getting compliments for how well I looked. People would say ‘I knew you’d be one of those people who would shrink right back’ whilst stood there with 3 extra stone on me and feeling deflated rather than being grateful for the compliment. I’d spent my pregnancy overeating and becoming a sloth in terms of movement, and I really felt it afterwards.
I started my pregnancy journey at a teeny-tiny underweight 8 stone and a size 6 (although completely in denial wearing an 8,) and 3 weeks after the birth of my son weighed 3 stone heavier. Luckily I lost about a stone of that down to breastfeeding alone within a few months, and probably would’ve lost more if it wasn’t for my need to eat a whole pack of biscuits 3 times a week.
What concerns me is the obsession and expectation that society places on women to return to their pre-baby life, and this applies to both lifestyle and appearance. But guess what… it’s actually okay to spend some time letting your body recover. It’s completely fine to not have time to blowdry your hair and wear a full face of make up. You spend as much time as you need in your pyjamas and maternity pants, and maybe upgrade to some leggings and a hoody when you’re ready and go from there girl!
I remember feeling a lot of pressure to get back into my size 8 jeans, and I did get there eventually. I remember wearing some high waisted jeans and there wasn’t a hole in my belt small enough for my waist but being so confused at these hips that are miles wider than they were previously. I remember just days after giving birth walking down the stairs to open the front door to the midwife and being told to sit down and rest because I was going to hurt myself, and being stubborn and refusing.
Celebrity culture tells us it is possible to stand outside the hospital, flat stomach, make-up and a perfectly picked outfit. I honestly can’t think of anything worse than stumbling out the hospital not being able to rub my mascara-less, tired eyes, not wearing massive knickers and not hiding under a massive tent of clothing.
Let’s fast forward a bit and skip the immediate sluggish, bloated and well padded feeling once your little one has escaped the womb. Eight months down the line and I am so much happier with this mum bod. I have a little tummy where there wasn’t an inch of fat before, my hips are wider, thighs thicker and bum bigger than pre-baby bump, but I love it. I feel more womanly than I ever have before. Not only have I done the most empowering thing with my body, but I carry the scars of that with me every day and they are the best reminder of that experience.
I hate exercise. I know I’ll never have a super toned body and even when I was underweight I was still wobbly. But I am healthy now. I love food of all sorts, and I make sure I go for a long walk almost everyday. Walks are great for your mental health too, and babies and children need to get out and discover the world. You are never going to feel good about yourself sat on the sofa all day… but it is always okay to do that until you are rested and ready.
I see these contorted images on Instagram and the botoxed, pumped up faces around me and honestly, it makes me sad that women go to these lengths. Stretch marks are normal. Wrinkles are normal. Having fat on your body is normal. All those things tell the story of what our bodies have gone through, and I really wish that women would not believe the images they see.
None of us are 100% happy with how we look, but my biggest piece of advice would be to be healthy and make the most of the bits you like. You love your legs? Wear that teeny mini skirt. You have a flat tummy? Wear that crop top. You have a nice bum? Then wear those super tight jeans! (A new body is also a brilliant excuse for some new clothes.)
I hope that more women can learn to love their new, mummy bodies. Exercise if you need to, change your diet if you need to, but ultimately what is always important is your happiness, and the happiness of your child.