Bodies After Babies
Fellow mummies, how do you feel about your post baby body? It doesn’t matter if, like me, you had your last child 10 years ago or whether you are a new mum…. there is relentless pressure for us to get back to the body we had before we grew another human (or few humans!) to the size of a watermelon, inside us, over a period of NINE months!
Social media isn’t helpful in showing celebrities who are back to their pre pregnancy body in a short amount of time. While the rest of us must come to terms with the stark realisation that our post pregnancy bodies may be far from the bodies that we had before, that they may never return to that (and why do they need to?!) I do, however, feel sorry for the celebrities who must be under pressure to ‘bounce back’ to the way they looked before.
Despite being slim, I do have a ‘mum tum’, ‘stretch marks’, and ‘saggy boobs’. Even the words sound repulsive……it’s hard not to compare our bodies in our minds to the body we had before. That voice is hard to ignore. But what if they weren’t called ‘mum tums’ but ‘post baby tummy’, not ‘stretch marks’ but ‘tiger stripes’, not ‘saggy boobs’ but ‘happy boobs’. What if we saw them for what they are, beautiful reminders of our journey into motherhood? How would we feel then??
The postnatal period, when we are exhausted with a newborn, is so tough, without the added pressure to look a certain way. Society’s beauty standard for women’s bodies focusses on flat stomachs, pert boobs, and perfectly taut skin. All of which either take time (if that’s what you want to do) or are impossible once we have become mums. No wonder we are often left feeling unattractive, with a poor body image.
I remember after my first child ‘bouncing back’ and somehow that was more socially acceptable, I didn’t struggle the way I did after baby number two. I had a c-section and was left with an overhanging belly, ten years later and it remains. I didn’t get my flat tummy back so I would hide it with a pillow when I sat down or I wore baggy clothes. My son drank every bit of milk in my boobs and some, so inevitably I was left with ‘empty’ breasts. In the last few years, I have learnt to accept my belly, boobs and stretch marks, how amazing that my body grew my beautiful daughter and son??
What we should really be focusing on is being healthy - physically and more importantly mentally - these will contribute to feeling good and when we feel good, we look good. So how can we improve our body image after becoming mummies? How can we appreciate our bodies more when we have given birth?
Firstly, we need to focus on what our bodies can do! We have grown another human, that is amazing!!! We have carried a baby and we may have fed them too. We can hug them, kiss them, see them…
Secondly, we need to focus on the positives. Instead of thinking about the parts of our bodies we are less satisfied with, what about the parts of our bodies that we love?
Thirdly, we need to stop comparing ourselves. We are all unique (plus many images on social media are filtered or taken with flattering angles and light)
I imagine it’s even harder now than it was for me 10 years ago as you can’t avoid the accounts and pages that are everywhere shouting about the ways to lose weight and get back to your ‘pre baby’ body. This should not be a priority after having just given birth. I also hate the assumption that all women aspire to the extremely narrow standard of beauty that we seemed to have developed.
So, let’s make change. Let’s tell ourselves and other mummies that they don’t need to worry. That they are beautiful just the way they are. Let’s find the inspiration and strength in togetherness to fight against all of the pressure we are put under. Let’s support each other by praising how good we are as mummies not what we look like.
We are NOT a ‘before’ and ‘after’. We are all beautiful. We are all worthy. We are all more than enough.
Anupa Roper lives in South Leicestershire with her husband and 2 children (Maya, 11 and Ayden, 10) She allowed her label of ‘skinny’ to affect her choices and her feeling of worth for a long time. Now she wants to empower the young by helping them to feel happy in their own skin. She would love for the generations that follow to know that they are worthy just the way they are. Follow her journey @miss_sparrowlegs on Instagram. Anupa has also published her debut book ‘Sparrowlegs’ about a sparrow who learns to love the feathers she is in and realises how amazing her body is. This book is aimed at 3- to 7-year-olds and available on Amazon. Here she talks to us about her experience of body image after becoming a mum.
You can follow Anupa on Instagram: www.Instagram.com/miss_sparrowlegs
Or become a member of Anupa's Facebook group: www.Facebook.com/groups/sparrowlegs
You can also find Anupa's book, 'Sparrowlegs' at https://amzn.to/3jgWsI9