"Seeing Michelle Bridges' post-birth baby bump made me sigh with relief."

The sight of Michelle Bridges with the visible remnants of a baby bump, just a few weeks after delivering her son Axel, made me sigh with relief.

At Mamamia, we don’t publish paparazzi shots so you can’t see the images here. But the snaps taken of her strolling the shops with her baby boy show Bridges looking fit and strong – with a tiny but obvious bump.

Bridges working out during her pregnancy. Image via Instagram.

Now the shots didn’t make me sigh with relief because I am basking in some cruel form of schadenfreude. I was relieved because it’s a realistic image of the post-partum weeks. And realistic images of the post-partum weeks are extremely rare. Especially in a public forum.

The images we see of mothers in the weeks or months after having a baby are not always entirely relatable.

The photo-shopped magazine cover with Kourtney Kardashian a few weeks after giving birth– is a case in point:

Obviously, there is absolutely no shame in looking distinctly like you’ve never given birth in the weeks after having a baby.

But nor is there any shame in looking exactly like you’ve given birth, after you have in fact just given birth.

When I went into hospital to have my first daughter, I was armed with some important information: I would still be in need of my maternity clothes.

Jools Oliver with Jamie Oliver and baby Petal Blossom Rainbow.

One friend, who had laboured before me, had optimistically packed her pre-pregnancy jeans in her hospital bag as she was under the impression that once the baby had vacated her womb, it would immediately shrink back to regulation size. Not so.

It’s a teeny tiny piece of intel – but it was deeply significant. Taking ownership of a newborn is a transformative exercise in which you land yourself in a job for which you could be entirely unprepared.

As one of my favourite writers, Esther Walker, puts being handed a tiny infant: “It is like suddenly being asked to re-sit your final school exams. In Russian.”

After the birth of Prince George, much was said about Kate Middleton’s post-partum belly.

Video via ABC News

When you are immersed in an almost wholly-foreign new world, any modicum of insight that can prepare you for the days and weeks ahead is very welcome.

And when it comes to a new mum’s anatomy, this is multiplied. Exponentially. There is stacks and stacks of room for insight.

No single woman’s experience is universal but whichever way you deliver a baby – whatever your shape, whatever your health, whatever your feeding preference – your body will tell the tale in one form or another.

Julie Bhoshale shared these images of her body two days after the birth of her son.

Your womb won’t contract immediately. Your tummy might look and feel unfamiliar – for a few days, for a few months, or even longer. Chances are you will leave the hospital looking pregnant.

This is one of those little things that won’t change the world, but knowing it as you head into labour and the baby bubble is an advantage. It saves the rude shock of expecting one thing, and getting something else entirely.

And if one of the fittest women in Australia can emerge from birth looking like she’s had a baby? That’s not a bad indication that it’s entirely reasonable for most brand new mums to expect the same from themselves.  If they don’t, that’s a bonus.

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