When I was pregnant, I had someone comment on a blog post I wrote saying I should remove all the mirrors in my house because I would hate my body so much in the first 6 weeks after giving birth I wouldn’t want to look at myself.
I’m heartbroken that anyone would feel this way about their splendid body after it did something so amazing.
I’ll be honest, I was quite terrified about what childbirth would do to my body. I have what I like to call a Dead Wombat metabolism. I burn food at the rate of a decaying marsupial which means I spend a lot of time (most of my time) trying not to eat more food than I need. I like food, and I’ve been non-blessed with a genetic mutation where I struggle to stop eating when I’m full. So with that fun combination, it’s a daily struggle to keep my weight at a healthy level. I’ve got some sound systems in place, but it’s an ongoing process. I can’t ever fully relax; otherwise, my weight creeps up like a bear hibernating for winter. My life isn’t awful – I still have the odd treat, and I drink wine every now and then, but I haven’t eaten bread since Pammy Anderson and Tommy Lee got divorced (1995 for those playing at home). It is what it is.
I imagined after having a child, I’d be obsessed with my body ‘bouncing back’ and wearing my ‘pre-baby’ jeans again ASAP. And you know what? I couldn’t give a crap. Here’s why.
1. My body did a really (really) cool thing.
I wasn’t overly sentimental about being pregnant or giving birth (I’m not overly sentimental about anything really). Still, on a scientific level, I thought the whole process was so freaking cool. All the usual stuff like how my baby girl bobbed around my chest shortly after she was born and found my nipple for her first feed. How my body just grew her with very little input from me. Also the non-normal stuff like how I’m very tasty to mosquitos under normal circumstances but when I was pregnant they didn’t touch me. I also loved my weird pregnancy symptoms. I mercifully didn’t get morning sickness, rashes or acne but I burped constantly. CONSTANTLY. It was disgusting. There was a month we dubbed Burpageddon because I just had a steady stream of air escaping my mouth at all times. I find it kind of mean to berate my body after it went through so much. It really is a miraculous beast. Also, my daughter loves my body. Every inch of it. It cooked her good, it kept her fed, and it’s her safe place where she comes for cuddles and snuggles. I don’t know how many one-year-olds you’ve met, but they’re pretty decisive when it comes to things they like/don’t like, and my body is a hard 10/10 for her so it can’t be that bad. The kid hates pancakes. Her standards are sky-high.
2. I’m too busy to care.
For real, I have this miraculous little one-year-old bopping around being adorable/hilarious/really freaking annoying all day. I don’t want to miss a second of it. She fills me with so much delight and fascination, I just don’t have room to lament my spare tire as vigorously I used to. Which is great. She’s far more important than a pre-pregnancy dress I can’t zip up. My favourite part of the day is after her bath when I get her in a fresh nappie (Little One’s of course – she’s been in them since birth and slept through the night at 4 months. I’m not messing with that program), clean pyjamas and her snuggly sleep bag. We sit on my bed and read books and cuddle. She lifts up my top (because she is obsessed with everyone’s tummies ATM) and pats and squishes my belly and giggles. It’s marvelous. I don’t want to teach her to hate my belly.
3. I don’t want my daughter to be as relentlessly obsessed with her weight like I have been my whole life.
I’ve been ‘watching my weight’ since I was ten years old, possibly earlier and it’s really dull. I want to teach my girl to climb trees. To run because it feels good. To eat nourishing vegetables and foods that fuel her body, to eat gelato in Italy, to enjoy pizza. To wear clothes, she can hike in and not worry about whether they’re flattering. I want her to lead a healthy, fabulous, pleasure and joy-filled life in whatever form her beautiful body takes.
And the best way to do that is to lead by example. That means taking care of myself, not hiding my body from her, being present in family photos and not fetishising other people’s (seemingly more perfect) bodies. It means not obsessing about what my body used to look like, what it currently looks like and what it will look like in the future. It means concentrating on having a strong, functional body that I can use to walk beside my daughter and catch her when she falls. I’m not going to let cellulite or a couple of extra pregnancy kilos stop me from doing that.
How did you feel about your body after giving birth? We’d love you to share any thoughts or advice for other new mums in the comments below!
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