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I feel so lucky to say that at 29, I am the most comfortable I think I have ever been with my body. The curves that once made me mad, I am grateful for. The blemished skin that has driven me loopy in the past, I am working with. Now, at six months pregnant I am going through a whole host of new changes and it is taking some getting used to. None the less, these changes are happening for a wonderful reason and I am embracing them. Once I’ve had my baby I intend to adopt the very same attitude of love and care towards myself. Here are just a few of the reasons why I won’t be “bouncing back” after pregnancy.
The only opinion which matters is my own
Looking back, I’ve noticed that when my body confidence was at it’s worst I was surrounded by negative attitudes. Whilst I’m no longer reminded daily by others to “eat healthily and exercise”, when I lived at home with my parents this was an ongoing struggle for me.
Whether my mum was expressing her concern for my size, friends were telling me about their next big diet or someone I was following online was promoting a weight loss product for their “business”, it seemed to be everywhere. Social media in particular was acting as a constant reminder of the “ideal size” and everyone seemed to jumping on the influencer bandwagon. I think it is undeniable that the opinions of others can have a big impact on how we feel about ourselves. Often others will even project their own insecurities on to us.
A few years on and things feel very different. I now live in my own home with a husband who has a very positive attitude towards food. Friends seem to be less focused on restrictive eating and more on enjoying time together as we get older. Even social media seems to be improving dramatically with positive birth and mothering content showing up everywhere for me now. Having a rather big overhaul of those I am following has helped a lot too of course.
My mental health matters more than my dress size
Focusing on my weight when I have no control over it could be damaging to my mental health. I can’t stress this point enough. Read it again.
It has become very apparent to me that size really does not matter. When it comes down to the sizing of clothing in particular, you may have noticed that the consistency from one brand to another is awful. Whilst a size 16 in one shop will fit me perfectly, it will hang off me in another and barely make it past my knee in a third. This is enough to show me that the number is very literally just a label and no reflection on me.
Finding that detachment from sizing has been so important for my mental health. It has given me freedom to focus on looking for items which I love, suit me well and fill me with confidence. Once you have a wardrobe of clothes which work well for your body, getting ready becomes an enjoyable task instead of a daunting one. With more than enough to think about when you are a new mum, having to spend time trying on outfit after outfit is not a task I wish to add to my list.
Balance is important
Refreshingly, whilst every person and article I have come into contact with regarding pregnancy has gone on and on about being incredibly healthy for the sake of your baby, I have found that midwives and other health professionals take a very different attitude.
Yes, fuel your body well. At the end of the day however, if you are struggling with nausea and find that the only thing you can face to eat is a chocolate chip cookie, just eat the blooming cookie. The bottom line is, your body needs calories to feed your baby. If they can come from balanced sources then that’s wonderful. This works for both pregnancy and postpartum.
My midwife has also encouraged me to have a bottle of prosecco in the fridge for when the baby arrives. She has ordered me to enjoy lots of rest and spend as much time in my PJs as is wanted and needed. I love her.
My intention is to take the same balanced approach to exercise too. I would love to think of myself as a mum that enjoys a relaxed mummy and baby yoga session. Of course yoga would be followed by a coffee with my cool mum friends in the local village. Lots of walks, maybe even some at home work outs.
In reality none of that sounds enjoyable to me, other than perhaps the coffee. More than likely, the amount of energy I will burn just looking after and feeding a new baby will be enough to keep me on my toes. If I make it out for a nice walk every once in a while, it will be enjoyed. Oh, and most probably accompanied by a trip to the shops for a treat.
My body is doing an incredible thing
Finally and most importantly, I acknowledge what my body is doing right now. Instead of feeling anything negative about the way it looks, I feel grateful. I am growing a human for goodness sake. Our bodies aren’t designed to be scrutinised. They are designed to help us move and grow and live. For some of us, they even make whole new people. If you’re currently struggling with a postpartum body or the thought of one after your pregnancy, just take a deep breath and take that in. I know I will need to pause and remind myself several more times. I am making a person!
To follow this, I’m also going to be patient with my body as it recovers. Far more significant than worrying whether my bump will reduce down after the baby is born, I am aware that my body needs to heal inside. My womb needs to recover after carrying them for nine months. My muscles need to knit back together. Even my organs need to settle back down into their original position. It is recommended that you don’t do any intense exercise for around eight weeks after you give birth to your baby and for good reason. Not only does your body grow your baby, but it repairs itself too. Be patient and allow it some time.
Becoming a mum is a wonderful thing and I can’t wait to experience it. No matter the journey you have, be it hectic or relaxing, challenging or plain sailing, your weight and dress size should never even cross your mind. Being healthy, for yourself and your baby, is one thing. Feeling any sort of negativity towards yourself after such an amazing achievement however is not okay. Celebrate what you’ve been through and what you are capable of and treat yourself with the love you deserve.
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