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'I'd been hiding my new body since my baby was born. An olive green swimsuit changed everything.'

I sat on the edge of the pool with my six-week-old son on my lap. I was using him as a shield between my postpartum body and the Saturday crowd of university students having a celebratory gathering at the shared pool in our living complex.

It has been six weeks since my caesarian section and birth of my third child. Six weeks since I have been able to swim with my other two children, Orlando (six) and Hazel (two). 

If you ask my son, he’ll tell you it’s been one million years since mum has been able to swim with him. He gets his exaggeration from his father and also from being a six-year-old.

Watch: How to get a beach body. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

I’ve been waiting for the stitches to dissolve, for the blood to stop, and for the risk of infection to subside. I’ve been sat in a nursing chair the last six weeks, counting down the days and mentally preparing myself for when the time would come to squeeze my new body into a swimsuit.

I’ve been so very kind to my body this time around. I haven’t looked away in horror as I see the C-section apron I’ve now acquired, three C-sections later. I haven’t wobbled my arms or worried that my thighs now touch. Have I noticed all these things? Yes, of course.

With all the wisdom that comes with being in my thirties, I’m much more understanding and considerate of my body and what it has been through. More than that, I’ve realised something spectacular: literally nobody cares about what I look like, nobody but me. It’s the narcissist in me that thinks the world has nothing better to do than to judge me. 

On this particular day, the day I knew I would be joining my family at the swimming pool, I took myself to the shops to buy a new swimsuit; one that would actually fit. I flicked past the size that I used to be and I picked an olive green, textured one-piece. I didn’t make the mistake of rushing out of there and hoping once I got home it would fit, no. I went to the dressing room and tried it on. I stood sideways, rubbing my hand over my stomach that no longer housed a baby but was still holding space in case I decided to return him. I tucked in my breasts, looked in the mirror, and stared straight ahead.

I didn’t hate what I saw.

And why should I?

As I walked towards the pool to meet my family, I could hear the sounds of chatter and laughter, music and splashing. There was a party going on. I walked through the pool gate in my new swimsuit and oversized button-up shirt. I kept my eyes on the prize, my children playing in the pool. “Did you buy some togs mum?” said Orlando. “Is your belly better?” 

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My husband sat behind me on the sunbed and I couldn’t bring myself to make eye contact. I was starting to worry what he might think of my new body. The last time he saw me naked I was a proud, glowing, round and firm pregnant woman. I’ve been undercover ever since. No doubt it’s been a long six weeks for him too. 

I watched the carefree crowd of youths laughing and drinking. “Mum, play with me,” Hazel said. It was time. I took a breath and reminded myself that I don’t hate my body and that nobody in this pool cares about what I am doing, except my children and me.

I handed the baby to my husband, I took off my oversized shirt and suddenly the earth stopped orbiting. The chatter ceased and the music went dead. The silence was broken only by the sound of necks cracking as they twisted a full 360 degrees to stare at my six-week new postpartum body.

Then I snapped back to reality, and just as I had suspected, nobody was staring at me. Nobody seemed to care about what was going on in my corner of the universe. How rude.

Just like that, I discovered how to take the responsibility of my self-esteem, off the shoulders of society.

Image: Supplied.

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Here are some techniques I used in the moment to get me in the pool:

  • Turn to tunnel vision. Keep your eye on the prize - in my case, my kids splashing in the pool and begging for me to join them. This moment in time has no place for your peripherals.
  • Remember, everyone else is too busy worrying about his or her own body to bother caring about yours.
  • You only have one life, don’t spend it on the side of the pool.
  • Focus on your assets. My milk-filled boobs looked great.

I spent the afternoon swimming and playing with my two oldest children and it felt like years since I had held them and not their baby brother in my arms. 

I felt good in my swimsuit. I felt happy playing with my children and I absolutely did not miss sitting in the nursing chair like a mum on house arrest.

Now my children have the memory of their mum playing with them in the pool, not sitting on the side because she was worried what other people might think of her.

Tiare Snow, author of 'SHE: a collection of you, me, her', and blogger at Fly In My Wine, is also a wife of one and mother of three. Wine, writing, and building book clubs fill the in between moments of her daily life. Follow Tiare on Instagram here

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