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Real Talk: Postnatal Body Image

In case you don't follow me on any social media (and if not um, why not? I'm an absolute hoot - particularly on Twitter,) you won't yet know but I gave birth to a happy and healthy little boy on the 14th August; 9 days before the little guy was "due". It's almost been a couple of weeks since then and it's been a whirlwind for me settling into my own family and adapting to so many changes. This period of pregnancy - the fourth trimester - is something that is often forgotten about and not discussed. It gets overlooked and I assume a lot of that has to do with the fact that everyone is excited that there's finally a baby here, earthside, to fuss over, but it's something I want to talk about here, especially in relation to body image.

I aired my thoughts and feelings on body image during pregnancy a few months ago as part of Mental Health Awareness Week and I talked about how accepting the rapid changes pregnancy thrusts upon the body can be quite challenging. Now I find myself on the flip side of pregnancy and I'm left with the body "aftermath". If I'm completely honest, I've surprised myself with just how accepting I have been of my body over the past couple of weeks. I convinced myself that once I'd had my baby that I would be unhappy with what I look like but I truly feel content and somewhat motivated to "fix" the areas that I'm not 100% happy with - but that can wait because it doesn't need to be prioritised right now.

For anyone who has been through the fourth trimester, y'all will know all too well the range of hormones your body will cycle through on a sporadic yet very frequent basis. I've found myself hysterically bursting into tears over absolutely nothing, feeling euphoric minutes later, then feeling inconsolable right after that. There's a huge focus on the aftercare of the mother after birth in terms of mental health, but from my experience so far, there isn't so much focus on how the body can impact that. The body has gone through *so* much in the past 9~ months and it is still not clear of any further changes and thus it's a lot to take on board. During the previous trimesters, I saw and felt so much love for my body from others - whether it was a colleague or someone on Instagram just saying something nice - my body was celebrated and praised for what it was doing and how I was carrying it off. Now during fourth trimester I don't see or feel the same admiration and support.

That isn't meant to come across as "woe is me. Compliment me please!" but I simply feel like the postnatal body isn't as celebrated. Take Meghan Markle and the shit she was dragged through after birth. I saw so many comments, tweets, and online "articles" talking about her "pooch" and how she hadn't somehow snapped back into her previous figure. It made me so angry but then I realised the reason people were saying these things was through a lack of education. It was because this ideal has been created that you somehow just pop a baby out and everything goes back to where it was. The human body can be amazing but it has it's limitations!

Lingerie set from Organic Basics - gifted | AD*

The lack of education made me feel more confident about my own body though. I spent time every morning and evening rubbing oil into my pregnant tummy in the hopes of keeping the stretch marks at bay - did it work? Of course it bloody didn't but I'm thankful that now I have them, I have accepted them and actually find them quite empowering. They're already a memory of what my body managed to do; what I managed to accomplish and actually? They're no where near as ugly as I previously thought they would be.

I went from being a size UK 6 to a 12 during my pregnancy. Of course, a lot of that was to do with the fact that I had an extra human strapped to the front of me but it also means that now post-pregnancy, I have some extra pounds I didn't have previously. I have more than a "muffin top" as my uterus slowly shrinks back down to it's original size. I can't just pull out all my old clothes and pretend nothing ever happened. What I can do however is celebrate what I achieved and be confident with my "mam bod". Although I'm desperate to get exercising again as soon as I am able (downward dog and my yoga mat are calling me), I want to do it to feel healthy again; not necessarily for weight loss or to "transform" myself.

Becoming a mother is a gift. The body it leaves behind should be the celebration.

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1 comment

Karen said...

This is lovely, thank you! I'm (still) struggling with the idea of a post-baby body (mine was supposed to be different!), but I love hearing others struggles, too. You look fantastic.


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