By BERN MORLEY
I’m not exactly sure I thought much about what would happen to my body AFTER I had a baby. I was very well aware what was happening to it while I was pregnant but at the time I was far too consumed and let’s face it, terrified by the impending labour to think too far ahead. Getting that mini human out of me was my priority. The aftermath was an afterthought.
I’ve had three babies now and each and every time I’ve carried them differently. My mother would helpfully and tactlessly point out to me that my body was changing with each pregnancy. “Oooh, you’re carrying this one all around your hips and bum, it must be a girl”
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“Ohhh, your face has blown RIGHT up!” Like I said, helpful. As if the hemorrhoids weren’t depressing me enough, telling me that I now had a massive arse was making me feel extra great.
I was a young first time Mum – 23. It didn’t feel young at the time, but looking back, I now know that it was. This has had its advantages and disadvantages. I then went on to have 2 more children and left a bit of gap between number 1 and number 3. By the time I had number 3 at 32, my body had been stretched and enlarged and deflated and elbowed from the inside out.
The best and worst part I would have to say though, is the change I had in the ‘breast department’. Forever a 12B, two days after giving birth, I reckon I could have given Pamela Anderson a run for her money.
The cruelest part of this is of course, that my husband couldn’t even so much as look at them without me wincing in pain, such was the agony of engorgement.
Sadly, for everybody involved, they didn’t stick around. In fact, they played the cruelest joke of all and eventually left me with less than I started with.
I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with my body prior to getting pregnant and all through my late teens/early twenties if I’m to be honest. In hindsight my body was perfectly fine, fantastic even. I had a booty for sure, but I was always and forever caught in the cycle of exercise, overeat, self-loath, repeat.
When I was pregnant it was the first time I just relaxed and enjoyed my body and let it have its way with me. I ate what I felt like and irresponsibly, ate 2 iced donuts a day in my first pregnancy. The thing is, when you’re 23, you still think you’re bulletproof . And that’s why when I had Maddie, it absolutely blindsided me when , after an excruciating painful labour I still had what appeared to be a fully-grown baby inside of my stomach EVEN though I had just expertly delivered a 7pd baby into the gynaecologist’s waiting arms.
It was a serious contrast to the kind of post-baby body you usually see in the media:
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For days I’d poke at my stomach willing it to go away.
It wasn’t welcome any more. It was, however, stubborn and remained.
Three times though. This kind of makes your body work for it. Three times it’s been stretched out. Three times my boobs have been given false hope that they might stay beyond an A cup. Three times, they’ve gone back to their original state. And it’s not just the dress size that changed, my whole entire body shape changed. Suddenly I looked different in jeans. I started seeking out the Maxi Dress which is the universe’s special present to every woman who wants to feel comfortable on a hot day.
Having struggled with my weight throughout my younger years, I have always been conscious of it. Always. Now though, in this digital age, it isn’t until you see yourself tagged in a photo on facebook that you get a good, harsh glimpse of the way you really look. There’s no avoiding your own body image today.
You do though, get to determine whether or not it bothers you. I love maturity, it a thing of wonder. I don’t have the body or look like I did when I was 18. I also don’t have that vulnerability and lack of confidence that burdened me so at the same age.
I am comfortable with myself now because I understand one very important thing, my looks will fade, my body will change, but it has served me so very well. It has allowed me to birth three beautiful, healthy children. My scars have a story. Every line on my face was put there from an expression. I tell many stories with my body.
Kate Middleton recently showed off the beautiful baby George with an obvious bump under her dress, yet all I could see was her radiant face. I loved her for this and I love that she did this for the generation of now. A generation that is being force fed perfection at every turn. Perfection is a myth. Real bodies, real people. Reality, that’s reality.
Photos of real post-baby bodies from photographer Jade Beall’s photography book project, A Beautiful Body:
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Body Positive Challenge #4: We’re going to make the fodder of the tabloid press our own and show the world what a real post baby body looks like. Mums – we want you to grab a photo of yourself (undies or clothed, we don’t mind) that shows how great you look.
Upload your photo to the social media platform of your choosing (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc) with the hashtag #mmbodypositive
Alternatively you can email your photo to us on [email protected] or you can upload the photo directly in the comments section. We will then collate the images and bring you an amazing gallery of beautiful bodies.
You can learn more about the Body Positive Project and read about the other upcoming challenges here.
Here are the photos:
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