As I sit and go through the pages of this Fashion magazine, I look at the body of a slim, tall and made to look perfect woman posing for a camera that I can’t see. This picture causes some grievance as I blankly stare down at my stomach that now seems to resemble a pouch or as some may call it flab. Ahh I hate that word! This picture also makes me grateful for having a saggy stomach as I vividly remember the miracle it housed at some point in my life.
I remember my body before having a baby, I remember trying to burn off extra calories and the pizza slice I may have snuck in occasionally over the weekend. I can see myself now fitting into size 10/12 jeans with ease, and not having to lay on the bed and try to slide them over my stomach but only reaching mid thigh level and hearing a RIP!. Damn those were the days!
Not many women talk about the bodily changes they experience after having a baby, and how it affects their lives, so today I will be sharing my story with you to raise awareness of the physical and emotional effects after birth, and how I learnt to embrace the new me.
Half a day passed after giving birth, exhausted and tired from all that my body had gone through; I lay down on the Hospital bed trying to get some rest, my hand grazed over my stomach. What the…I looked down and saw that my bump was still there, but felt very strange, not as big and round as it was when I was pregnant. Curiously I glanced under my gown and had the shock of my life. Ohh myyy goddd! What’s happened to my stomach? Is that normal? I should tell someone, why is it so saggy and full of scars? The horror of seeing my stomach covered in dark stretch marks, and my skin looking wrinkled and sagging, was enough to tip me over the edge. How did I not know this was what my body would look like after birth? How do I get it to go back to normal! Will it ever go back to looking like it used to?
From that moment onwards for the next 3months, I was very self conscious of how my body looked. I hid under oversized dresses and avoided going out in public as much as possible. I still looked pregnant, and under my clothes was just an awful sight for me to look at. That was my perception of my body. I failed to realise that this body of mine had carried a baby for nine months, it wasn’t going to bounce back into shape overnight. Over the first few months my mood was sometimes high, and sometimes low, mostly from the lack of sleep, but also from worrying about if my body will ever look good again. At four months post partum I began to carry out some light exercise, such as walking around my local park with Little K in her pushchair, and some yoga at home, over time I noticed my stomach slowly “deflate” and my stretch marks become lighter in colour, the relief of seeing your body starting to look somewhat human was a very big relief for me.
As little K hit the 6month mark, she became more of an active baby, starting to sit up alone, and roll around, she even began to crawl. As she became more active, I found less time to exercise at home with a baby crawling around everywhere, I became less emerged in my self consciousness, and found myself constantly busy chasing around Little K. I began to reflect back on my pregnancy and body after pregnancy, it made me question What does a normal body look like? I scoured the internet, only to come across size 0 models. That’s when it hit me, everything we see on social media, magazines, television, these images are all photoshopped to sell an item. All of these bold headlines you see in magazines and articles telling us which fad diet to follow, and how to shed weight fast, it’s all a scam, THERE IS NO PERFECT BODY!
The relief I felt after realising that there is no one body image that we should aim to be, so why was I trying to hard to become something that I am not? I started to relax more and play around with my outfits, trying to pick out items that would flatter my body shape, maybe even try and apply some makeup like I used to. I began to remind myself that My body may not look like that model on Cover Magazine, but I am proud of the way it looks, it might never look amazing with flat abs and a girlie six pack, but that’s okay. I stopped expecting miracles to happen, and started to think more realistically, aiming for one small goal at a time, such as slowly adjusting my diet, trying to fit in a 30minute walk during the day.
However, there are days, if not weeks when I have found myself doing no exercise at all, and binging on comfort food, I guess during those times the only exercise I do is chase Little K around the house, which can become very tiresome most days. A lot of the time I can’t wait to get into bed at 9pm just so I can recover from the long day I have had looking after Little K.
I guess what I am trying to say is; Don’t hide away because of the stretch marks like I did, or cringe because you are the owner of a saggy stomach. Work around it, Treat yourself to some new clothes if that’s what it takes to make you feel better, know I did! I might not get much time to wear makeup everyday, or style my hair like I used to, but even doing the simplest of things such as, washing my face in the morning is a big deal for me. There’s days where I haven’t even combed my hair or changed out of my pyjamas because Little K is in a rampage to conquer the house before breakfast, and that’s okay, I still continue with my day in my pyjamas and messy bun because I don’t need to hide away anymore. I have learnt to embrace my new body the way it is, imperfect with it’s stretch marks and pouch like stomach, yet still perfect for me…and I hope you will too.
Little K & Mom