I have a confession. A few weeks after the birth of my first son, I started to quite like my new mummy body. But even saying this now feels a little taboo. Like I’m letting down the sisterhood, or something, just by admitting it.
After all, the way we feel about our bodies once our beautiful babies have taken over them, is a very touchy subject. But should it be? Please hear me out!
I was very lucky (and I thank genetics, not the gym or a fad diet, as I did neither) that I lost my pregnancy weight very quickly after my first bub. I was back wearing figure hugging tops before my c-section scar had healed, but I’m not bragging, that’s just how it was for me. I breastfed, but then so do many mums, and my fat stores must have gotten quickly used up in milk production. Yay for me, I thought at the time. Again, hear me out.
Then, when breastfeeding really got established, I also got big beautiful boobies! For someone who had gone through life without any real curves and just a modest bust, this was really nice! I loved them and best of all, they weren’t just big, but they were firm (well, full of milk, that is). I felt like I’d gotten a free boob job. The breastfeeding deluxe.
Meanwhile at my mother’s group
While I was secretly appreciating my new curves, some of my mother’s group buddies were feeling down about theirs. Of course we mainly talked about our baby’s sleep, the lack of ours and every other concern to do with our bubbas, but there were times when the conversation drifted towards the baby bulge that just wasn’t shifting. I began to feel guilty about something I had no control over and would turn up to our meetings wearing loose-fitting tops.
I started to waste away
But here’s the thing. Soon after losing the baby weight, I also started wasting away. Yes, my boobs stayed big, thanks to my body producing all that glorious mama milk, but I was getting scrawny. I was sleep deprived, emotional and there were days where I just wasn’t coping. I wasn’t eating regular meals because a little someone always made sure these were interrupted. In short, I wasn’t looking after me and it showed – quickly!
Skinny isn’t a good thing
I’ve always been the kind of person who loses weight when I’m stressed. Want to know if I’m okay? Put me on the scales. You might be the same, or you may know someone like this. Perhaps that friend in your mother’s group who’s losing the baby weight faster than your baby spits up his milk after a feed, isn’t actually that great? The point is, skinny isn’t a good sign when you’re a new mum.
Then it really went south
I breastfed for a year and now that my nursing days are over, so is my breastfeeding boob job. My once modest bust is now just two flat pancakes, and my tummy bares my mummy marks and a c-section scar. I do feel better these days though and I’m a healthy weight again.
Does it matter?
Looking back, I think I was wrong to like the way I looked. Instead of marvelling at what my body had achieved, I bought into the lie society loves to peddle out to all new mums. ‘Get your pre-baby body back!’ the magazine articles scream, but why? I hadn’t ‘bounced back’ after having a baby at all, and I don’t think we’re supposed to. Our bodies have done something miraculous and amazing and if we never return to that, does it even matter? I have two beautiful boys now and my body has endured a flogging to get them here. It’s not perfect now, not that it ever was, but I think it’s pretty incredible and I love it for what it’s given me.
The next time I see a mama who has ‘bounced back’, I’ll ask how she’s doing rather than assume she is on top of the world just because I’d never know she just had a baby by looking at her. By all means love your body, but love it for what it gave you, not what society tells you is acceptable to love.