baby

'Twice I've lost all my baby weight straight after giving birth. I really wish I hadn't.'

When I had my first baby, I remember phoning my sister-in-law and asking her to bring some of my pre-baby leggings into the hospital. 

All the larger sized pants I had packed didn’t fit. 

I birthed my baby and my body went back to what it was within hours. 

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The second time round I did the same thing. I packed larger clothes, again. I had been eating a KFC Zinger Burger every day, had gained more weight with the second pregnancy and was convinced it would all stay on. 

Plus, I was also carrying a whole lot of extra mum guilt from the first time round that was willing my body to hold on to the weight. 

Because you’re not meant to lose your baby weight, just like that, right? And if you do, it’s wrong or cruel even because so many women just don’t. Most, actually. 

Well, the weight didn’t stay on. Just as it did with my first pregnancy, it fell straight off. And let me tell you now, I wish it hadn’t. 

Walking out of the hospital, I felt like some sort of mama fraud.

Holding my baby, I recalled all those Instagram pics of celebrities taking selfies holding their babies six, eight, 12 weeks postpartum to show what a ‘real’ body that’s given birth looks like.

I recalled all the articles shaming the other camp of celebrities who walked red carpets mere days after birthing, looking just like their pre-baby selves. 

What I was recalling was yet another strong and pervasive public dialogue about what women’s bodies should look like. One that I had got caught up in and was being affected by.

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A large part of me is pre-empting a whole lot of hate for even talking about my post baby body. 

Because, well, what could I possibly have to say as someone who went straight back to wearing their pre-baby clothes? Please don’t hate. 

What I’m trying to say is that actually, any comment about the appearance of a new mum is a judgment and wouldn’t it be nice if we just didn’t do that to each other. 

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I’ve made those comments myself. I’ve said, “you look great/wonderful/amazing/so fit/you’d never know you just had a baby” etc. 

I’ve also been on the receiving end of those comments and well, it’s just not necessary. Chances are, the mum you’re complimenting is so sleep deprived she probably didn’t hear you, or her stitches are so itchy she probably didn’t hear you or she’s so distracted by her screaming baby – she probably didn’t hear you. 

And if she did, well, with a newborn, I can’t imagine it means all that much to her.

It is such a fine line though because as women we do want to raise each other up. 

We do want to be able to say to our friend who’s just given birth that she does look great because – she does – and chances are she hasn’t heard that in a while given that she’s been carrying a watermelon for the last nine months. 

I can’t help but feel though, that commenting on each other’s appearance in those fragile few weeks after giving birth, only perpetuates the idea that women should look a certain way and that if they don’t, there’s something wrong or, too right. 

I want this conversation to shift. 

Instead of “you look so great,” let’s say “you are so great - you just GAVE BIRTH”. 

Instead of “god, you look good,” let’s say, “how are you *feeling*?”. 

Instead of, “that baby can’t possibly be yours, you look amazing,” let’s say, “you *are* amazing”. 

Anyone can look any kind of way really – commenting on it means shit. But also, it does nothing for the thousands upon thousands of women who already experience self-esteem issues related to body image. 

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It also does nothing for our daughters. 

Lately, when we’re changing my 15-month-old’s nappy, she’ll look at herself in the mirror and admire her belly. 

She’ll shift her hips from side to side to see how it moves, rub the palms of her hands over it, push it out and suck it in. And the whole time she’s smiling. 

It’s like she’s in love with it. She probably is. 

As women, somewhere along the line, we lose this pride in our bodies. For who knows however many reasons. 

What I’m saying is, wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t? Yes, OK, amazing, I can walk out of the hospital in my pre-baby jeans while the woman in the room next to mine is still wearing her maternity active wear. 

So f**king what? We both just brought tiny humans into the world. Let’s celebrate that. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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