Category Archives: Body image

Confessions of first time mother: Body Image

Today – 11months post partum

Today was an event! I got back into some pre-pregnancy clothes (admittedly stretchy ones as I am still a little way off my pre-pregnancy weight)!

It made me think about how depressed I have been about by body since giving birth 11 months ago – I am by no means happy with my reflection now but I am happier than I have been.

Realising that I am not alone I thought I’d share some of my true confessions relating to body image in the first year.

40 weeks pregnant. 4 days before I had BiP (I was so tired)

1. My  bump was flattering! My bump was so huge that the rest of me looked small. I was really pleased with myself that I had only gained about 12kgs/26lbs – now I say about because in all honesty I had no idea how much I weighed when I got pregnant so I rounded up a few kilos as I was a bit over my normal weight to start with (don’t judge me) and then stopped weighing myself at around 8 months. So the exact figure is probably considerably higher.

2. Breastfeeding does not always help you lose weight! Contradictory to popular belief and propaganda available in midwives offices around the world, breastfeeding may burn 500 calories a day but if you were like me it makes you hungry and it is possible to consume that in one meal! I clung on to stories of people who’s weight melted off like the butter they enjoyed consuming during their pregnancy. I however, clung to every damn kilo – losing at the same rate as BiP gained. It was incredibly frustrating as I was yet to find a 12kg/26lb 6 month old baby anywhere on the growth charts at the pediatricians office.

3. I wish I’d bought nice “fat clothes”! As soon as BiP was born I rushed to try on some of my pre-pregnancy clothes – WHO was I kidding? I got depressed and put my maternity stuff back on. Then the weather warmed up and I had nothing appropriate for summer in my size so I went shopping. I bought myself cheap ugly clothes that were comfy because I kept telling myself “I’ll be back in my old clothes before the summer’s end” – ummm …roll on autumn and I had to go get yet another new fat wardrobe – I did the same thing again because I was convinced that by 6 months I’d have lost the weight. Reality bites! Most of the clothes ended up in the bin because I wore them so much and some I am STILL wearing. Massive fail on my part. Now I am planning to get myself some nice clothes so at least I can embrace (or at least try to) my current shape.

4. I avoided skinny mother’s but stalked them online. I made the fatal mistake of stalking facebook photo’s of friends who had babies before and after me in the hope to find a chubby mother, ANYONE who was still in the same position as me … instead I found them in bikini’s with their 3 month old babies … A BIKINI!!!! If I was to put on a bikini at 3 months post partum Greenpeace would have been alerted that there was a beached whale an hour inland.  These images made me green with envy. They clearly had surrogates I told myself.

5. I spent a fortune on make-up! Mascara and lip gloss can make you feel a lot better about yourself even if at times I felt like putting make up on was like putting lipstick on a pig. Don’t forget the concealer.

6. I avoided the camera for months and regret it. I have to admit that I hated having my photo taken – I didn’t want BiP to have this fat mother in her album. I was so incredibly stupid. I’ll never get those days back. Get creative with camera angles and CROP is the most important part of any photo editing software.

7. I sold (almost) all my pre-pregnancy clothes. I couldn’t take seeing the clothes that I used to fit into in a previous life, ok, I hadn’t worn them in the year before I got pregnant but still they were an evil reminder of what I once was so I sold them. I decided that, if, I ever get back to that size again they will be out of fashion – or maybe that was a bad move and they could have been considered vintage. Anyway, I hated the reminder so they’ve gone.

8. I played with the bathroom scales. I’d get on the scales and be horrified at the number that appeared so I’d shift my weight around and try again with my heels hanging off the edge. Of course, they’d rarely change and sometimes I’d just get a big E signally an error. I then would try to convince myself that because I was breastfeeding each breast weighed 5kgs (10lbs or so) … whatever!

This is not the first time I have talked about post partum body distress – here are my tips on how to handle it (even if I don’t always take my own advice!) I’ve avoided talking about diet and nutrition because everyone is different. I personally have a gluten-free diet and watch my carb intake, limit sugars etc … I know what I should be eating and my diet is pretty good considering what most people eat – it’s a whole new ball game when it comes to post partum weight loss so I’ll leave it at that.

So, there you have it – my 8 confessions relating to my body image on the day that I wore some clothes for the first time in 18 months. What are yours?

Motherhood. Is it a Popularity Contest?

Most women, having just given birth, have the feeling that they have done something amazing. They have. Most women do feel like Mother Earth the moment they hold their baby. At the end of the day they have given life to another human being!

Super mumNow, how many women have been made to feel that they should be banished for having an elective c-section or an epidural or even worse, AN INDUCTION? Who’s been made to feel bad that they selected to deliver in a hospital rather than have a home birth? How many have been made to feel they should apologise because they haven’t breastfed because they needed medication to deal with the aftermath of childbirth or because they just didn’t want to? Hands up. Be honest. Is the first year of motherhood a popularity contest?

The pressure of the perfect birth

There is so much pressure out there to have the perfect birth. What is that exactly? Surely it’s different for everyone? I had one blogger make me feel like there was something wrong that I had a hospital birth … ummm … that’s what I wanted and I never asked for her opinion. I am happy she wants a home birth but I certainly wouldn’t tell her that I think it’s a risky choice which could be considered downright irresponsible in today’s day and age. So why did she feel she could pity me for my “substandard delivery?” I dread to think what she’d say about my induction which turned out to be the perfect choice for me. Every situation is different, everyone has a different pain threshold, a different agenda and guess what? That’s OK.

The pressure of breastfeeding.

Often I meet mothers who, when I say I breastfeed, automatically jump on the defensive saying that they couldn’t breastfeed for whatever reason. I never asked, I don’t care, feed your baby, love your baby, that’s all the matters. Yes, I breastfeed but that is my choice! It’s not easy and it’s not for everyone. If you have done your research then I will leave you to make the choice that works for you, your baby and your family. At the end of the day we are lucky to have alternatives. Ok, those who do breastfeed do look for support and celebration for reaching milestones – I know as well as anyone how much I NEED that encouragement and support but it doesn’t make me look down on someone who stopped before I have. EVER.

So, where is my medal?

I don’t do any of the things I do with BiP for any other reason than that is what I WANT to do with her. Yes, I breastfeed, yes I do Baby-Led Weaning (BLW), yes I part-time EC (Elimination Commuincation) her, yes I occassionally cloth diaper her, yes I occassionally, every minute of the day, love her. Do I get a medal? NO of course not! No medals for dealing with pain from childbirth, no medal for refusing an epidural when you can’t take the pain, no medal for dealing with chapped nipples or that first bite that you daren’t look down at for fear that your cherub has actually bitten your nipple clean off, no medal for struggling losing the weight, or for being tired … no no no! NONE of that!
So, what’s the deal? I’m all for putting the info out there and encouraging other mama’s but we all have to do what we CAN within our capabilities and sensibilities.

What do you think? Is childbirth and the first year of motherhood a popularity contest?



8 things I wish I had known!

MummyinprovenceBiP is almost a year old so the posts over the next few weeks may have a nostalgic hint to them. My mummy-to-be friend PigletinFrance is expecting her first baby in just a week or 2 (or 3 or maybe even 4!) and talking to her its taken me back to the same time last year when I was in exactly the same position of anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first baby, BiP.

Here are 8 things I wish someone had told me about becoming a new mother (some people did tell me, but I guess I didn’t listen):

1 . It’s normal to be scared about the birth – I was so scared. I was desperate to be pregnant and elated when I was but then the “OMG this baby has gotta come out somehow” sets in. That is normal. If it’s your first baby you have no idea what to expect. However, try not to let this fear consume you. Women have given birth since the beginning of time – we are lucky we have better healthcare, better information and for some, better support than those before us.

2. The birth is not the destination: It’s the beginning – I planned my perfect birth; I’d go into labour naturally, I’d let my body do what it was designed to do and I’d skip out of the delivery room with my nether regions intact! Hmmm … well, the reality was that I was induced due to chronic sciatica, I gave birth lying on my back, I had an episiotomy and I was wheeled out of the delivery room to my room on the maternity ward. But WAIT! I don’t regret any of it! Many of us spend our entire pregnancies focussing on the birth – it’s just the start of something amazing but it really is where it all begins!

3. Breastfeeding is NOT easy – well, for some it really isn’t! I found breastfeeding to be excruciatingly difficult yet I persevered. Even today, when BiP is fast approaching her first birthday, it is still hard at times. For me, the reward outweighed the struggle(s). Get as much support as you can through La Leche League, a lactation consultant, friends, family, online – wherever! Just make sure you get it!

4. It’s OK to cry. A lot. – 3 days after I had BiP I cried, oh I cried. I felt I must have lost my pregnancy weight in tears I cried so much. It’s ok and it’s normal (so I am told). Becoming a mother, with all the hormal changes on top of the physical ones are huge so having a good old cry is OK, really it is. Obviously signs of Post-Partum Depression (PPD) are important to look out for but try not to worry unnecessarily about it beforehand.

5. Don’t try to be SuperMom – I put incredible pressure on myself, and I still do at times, to be the perfect mother – but what is the perfect mother? I find myself chasing the undefined and unattainable! STOP! Your house doesn’t have to be spotless, you don’t have to do a million educational activities a day with your 6 week old and you don’t have to be perfectly turned out everyday. Take each day as it comes, do what you can manage and what makes you and your baby happy. The dishes can wait!

6. It’s OK to miss your old life – As a new mother your life takes on a whole new meaning and direction. It is OK to miss your old life, one where you are not permenantly attached to your baby who seeks to devour every last drop of your energy. I suffered with overwhelming guilt at wanting just a sniff of my pre-pregnancy life; where I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. Until recently I felt so guilty until I discovered that I was not alone in feeling like I had lost my identity.

7. You will still be fat. For a while. And for some, like me, a LONG time … Those nutella crepes and all that ice cream that my baby needed during my pregnancy won’t, sadly, just melt off in the delivery room. No. 9 months on often equals 9 months off, kinda. A lot of women drop the weight almost instantaneously but for a lot of us it really doesn’t work that way. Get some nice clothes and you will one day get back to some kind of normal (or so I am told)!

8. Your relationship with your spouse will hit a rough patch – ok, here it is, a true confession. When BiP was born I never felt closer to my husband, he was supportive, loving and an all-round super dad. As I recovered from my delivery and got the hang of breastfeeding and the general being a mummy thing I became this over-possessive creature who had fallen madly in love with a sweeter smelling, cuter being; my baby! Then the fights started, this crazy adjustment – how I envied my husband being able to go out without thinking about feeds, naps and packing half the nursery into a bag BUT I wouldn’t change it for the world BUT I resented him for it … it became a vicious circle. Then the fights start. I thought at times that our marriage was falling apart until I discovered that this “adjustment” is not only normal, it is pretty common. The key to success and surviving it is to keep the channels of communication open, wide open and try to accept that at times you are being unreasonable, yes YOU. This will pass! Make time for each other and try, if you can to have “date nights” even if the best you can manage is a movie and some popcorn on the sofa! Every minute counts!
So there you have it … what did you wish someone had told you before you had your baby?