Friday 5 December 2014

Post Natal Bodies: Does my bump look big in this?

I was told on several occasions how much pregnancy suited me; that I was 'blooming' or 'glowing'. There is something about a baby bump that makes people see a woman's body differently; she is beautiful because of the life she is creating. Her body reflects the awe we see in nature; the miracle of life (that and the lovely skin, hair and the temporary boob job, of course).

But what if I told you this photo was taken one week after the birth of my second baby? Would it change your opinion of how I look? Does my bump become less beautiful?

As soon as I'd had my first baby, eyes would wander to my waistline. It seemed almost instinctive for people to assess my post-natal figure, even when I felt at my most vulnerable. A few months down the line I got a few "You've done well to lose the baby weight" lines, as though I then merited some sort of validation for what merely time had done on it's own; as though losing my bump was as much of an achievement as growing a life itself.

I remember going to the theatre soon after I'd had my first baby and watching some young dancers wearing crop tops, flaunting their flat little midriffs. A friend turned to me and said "do you remember when your belly looked like that?" Short of bursting into a bout of hormonal tears, I accepted that my friend, along with most people who have not had children, had no idea how a post natal belly should look – nor how long it would take to go down, if at all. In fact, I had no real clue myself because I'd never known anyone open enough to tell me. I felt a little bit disappointed with the way that I looked.

You see, the media would have you believe that when a celebrity gives birth, her belly shrinks back to the flat, toned stomach she had pre-pregnancy. The true nature of a post natal belly has become a taboo subject, making women ashamed of their rotund midriffs. Women who give birth for the first time look down in shock when they see their little paunch with now no 'miracle of life' inside to validate it, rushing to the H&M sales to stock up on oversized jumpers.

But why do we feel the need the need to hide our bumps? Mine is still the same one that worked a miracle, why should I disguise it with control pants and baggy jumpers? Why should I add to the taboo and make more women feel less comfortable about their bodies, when they should be proud of what their bodies have been through? Let's not believe the celebrity tripe that we're fed with. I'm sure their bellies are bound look a lot flatter than mine with a personal trainer on hand, a full-time nanny and money for all the cosmetic surgery they want.

Actually, a year or so after I'd had my first baby my stomach looked better than it ever had because I worked hard at getting my figure back, but we need to give ourselves a realistic expectation as to how long it takes for our bodies to adjust. I'll update you on my blog how long it takes for my bump to go down this time (all be it with less time and energy to exercise!) but in the process I need to respect what nature has put me through. We need to give ourselves credit for the body changes bestowed upon us, not be ashamed of them. This is just part of life and the sooner we, as individuals, are ready to accept that, the more accepted women will feel about themselves on the whole.

So yes, my bump does look big in this but I refuse to be told I am less beautiful because of it. I'm learning to accept myself and what life throws at me, and this is just one of those things. Sure, I'd rather have my flat tummy back, but it's not unachievable, it will just take time. Lets give ourselves a break and learn to be proud of what we've gone through and the miracle of life we have created.

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