I want to talk about the topic of “body Image in pregnancy and postpartum” This was when I was 8 months pregnant with Myler, my first born son.
I remember a time around my third trimester of feeling quite low about the changes my body had made and If I would ever love my “body” again with the extra lumps and bumps.
I remember talking to girlfriends that have had the very same feelings and how they were worried they would never “loose” their baby weight and how they felt unattractive being heavier than normal.
I remember feeling extremely guilty about these feelings which made it worse. It wasn’t until a few month after having Myler I really understood why I may have been feeling this way. I read an article that stated this.
“The impact of pregnancy and birth on the body is extremely immense, yet we rarely discuss the ways it impacts women’s lives”. and I really related to that.
Body image is a profound theme in women’s experiences of reproduction – particularly for first-time mothers.I think women get fixated on the idea of “ I must loose as much weight as possible in the quickest amount of time”. I think there is a phycological link in the fact that Weight loss can be a simplistic way to take back control of your life when it has changed so much. Its something “we can control”, in a sense.
Becoming a new mother has so many changes, you now have this little human that relies on you so much, your independent, selfish you” somewhat removed for now, and a new body with a few extra love lines. It can be a lot to take in and it can be scary. I think weight loss is just an automatic response to one feeling the pressures of society and what we “should be doing”.
I think we need to remember as women how incredible and capable we are! Gratitude toward yourself for doing everything you needed to do to create, grow and deliver your child, and gratitude for your amazing body that was able to produce the miracle you are holding in your arms.I read an article that stated some great points which I have included throughout in this that a writer Nicky Writes wrote; “Remember that your body is still undergoing numerous changes even after you’ve given birth, and it will be a while until it gets back to how it was before you conceived.
Don’t beat yourself up by looking at misguiding pictures of celebrity “moms” who get back to shape in no time. Don’t lose patience and don't forget that you can take all the time you need to lose pregnancy weight healthily, For now, change your focus. Try and follow like-minded moms on social media who are enjoying their time having just delivered a child.
Enjoy your newborn, realise how incredible your women machine is! Remember we are all so different, and we all have a different story to tell. You can’t compare your journey to another’s as you had a different pregnancy, a different birth, a different sized baby ... and a different body to begin with and that the scale doesn't define “beauty”. NO it does not!
"It is a huge emotional labour, and that’s on top of the physical stuff women go through when they have a child”.
Let’s look at the statistics for a minute;
1 in 3 women who have had a baby leak urine.
Around 50% of women who deliver a baby vaginally have a prolapse whether they know it or not.
Around 85% of women who resume sex by 12 months postpartum (including those who had a C-section) experience pain during vaginal penetration after birth.
Pregnancy itself causes huge stretching of the pelvic floor, abdominal muscles and chest area from the increasing size of the baby, but also the pregnancy hormones. And then of course some women don’t experience any of these.
Every women is different, but as you can see the physical changes can be huge.
I wonder if we can start changing the narrative so women are able to get support for postpartum body injury or health issues rather than being stuck with the immense focus on weight loss. “There’s this expectation that women will just love their bodies how they are in this new way and that’s another kind of cultural norm that never gets spoken about, because it’s framed positively.
It’s OK to mourn the loss of your body [the way it was] before you had a baby … it’s a transition you need to move through slowly.. and that is OK. I wish there was more acceptance of that. I wish we moved slower in that way.
"I wish the conversation was a little more transparent when talking about what your changes will be after having a baby, and that women are more aware. I mean we all know we will gain weight and get a few extra love marks but to what extent?
I also don’t think we are being ungrateful by having these feelings too. I feel if more women spoke about it then women would feel more empowered and more accepting about their bodies knowing they are not alone.
So if you needed to read something like this or can take anything away from this conversation it is that it is so OK to be feeling overwhelmed about body image right now, It is OK. but to remind yourself of the incredible journey you have taken to become a mother and to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to heal and know that the the rest will follow.
I am now on my second pregnancy and I have not once worried about my body image, but if i did that it is ok too. I have definitely found it harder the second time round physically but I am at gratitude and acceptance of my new love marks, size.
I think it is such a beautiful sacred time of a womens life and we should focus on the beauty of carrying and caring for our children rather than the profound idealism of “beauty and a scale”.