Mum of two Alexandra Kilmurray shared not only a very relatable picture of her tummy, but her thoughts on the challenges of adjusting to post-baby life (and post-baby bodies!)
Alexandra posted the image a couple of days ago, showcasing her postpartum, baby-growing belly – and one of the amazing little people that used to live inside it.
The mum-of-two was refreshingly and vulnerably up front about not only her struggle to accept her post-baby body, but her mental health following the birth of her kids.
“No one warns you about the dark sides of motherhood and pregnancy… No one gives you a heads up on how much you change physically and mentally after you become a mother.” Alexandra wrote.
Not always peachy
It can certainly feel that way in a world that bombards us ever-increasingly with perfect parenting imagery, as post-natal depression (PND) continues to affect a huge number women, often behind closed doors.
It’s super helpful that mums like Alexandra are openly sharing feelings and experiences and bringing a more diverse and realistic view of motherhood into view.
As many media outlets race to find the sexiest, skinniest postpartum celebrity mum, many non-famous mums are cradling their fussy newborns and wondering whether they’re doing it wrong.
Their bodies may not look like those of new mums being lauded in the media. The “bounced-back” postpartum beauty ideal may not reflect their own bodies.
All this might leave women feeling pressured and disappointed in themselves and their (amazing, baby creating) bodies.
Coming to terms
Alexandra’s post reflects this pressure.
“It took me 18 months to get here, 18 months to not cry when I look in the mirror, 18 months to finally feel beautiful in my own skin again!” she wrote.
Her post celebrates an amazing moment when things finally began to feel like they were falling into place.
“It’s been a long and hard postpartum ride for me… 18 months after my first son and 5 months after my second son I feel like I can finally see the light and it genuinely feels amazing.”
She urges other mums to realise their own strength and magnificence.
“Cheers to you mamas who are battling postpartum depression and still getting up everyday for your children! Cheers to you mamas who still cry about the marks on your skin from birthing your perfect babies! Cheers to motherhood, cheers to knowing that this too shall pass! And things will get better.”
While these kinds of public disclosures can make some people uncomfortable, don’t be too quick to ask ‘why share something so private?’
The sharing of stories like Alexandra’s plays a really important role in destigmatising post-natal mental health challenges and helps mums come to terms with more realistic postpartum recovery and body image expectations.
The more we talk about the realities of having babies, the less alone women will feel. Sharing photos, thoughts and feelings like this connects women in really valuable ways.
“Don’t feel normal”
Commenters on Alexandra’s post were supportive, hopeful and emotional.
“Never be ashamed! You are beautiful! Your body gave life ! What a wonderful thing!” Said one follower.
“I have 3 sons. The last one is 10 months and I still don’t like to see my body. I hope one day I can feel like you. Thanks for your post. All the mummys of the world need to read a message like that,” one mum wrote.
“Thankyou for posting this! I see nothing but postpartum pics of people having babies and having toned tight abs with not a line in sight (which some people are just blessed with). Unfortunately there is a great number of us out there that because we don’t look like that don’t feel normal (in my case anyways). It’s hidden away but it’s there for so many of us. I congratulate you on creating two lives and making others proud! I can’t thank you enough for making me feel beautiful and ‘normal'” Another mum wrote.
As you can see, many women are struggling with their identity and appearance post-birth.
The more we get to grips with the multitude of differing, imperfect and sometimes challenging experiences of pregnancy, birth and postpartum life the better it will be for all women (and their families!)
A huge thanks to Alexandra for opening up about her pregnancy and postpartum experience.
If you’re a mum and you’re feeling miserable or overwhelmed, PANDA can help. Please don’t go it alone. Get in touch with the amazing PANDA people and take some brave steps towards feeling better supported.