Postpartum body: The most important thing to remember
In a world of filtered and airbrushed images, it's not hard to see why so many women are worried about their postpartum bodies. I'm not going to sit here and tell you to be in awe of your body for creating and birthing another human being. You know that, and it doesn't help if you're body has changed in ways that mean you have less confidence or self esteem. But what I am going to do is pass on an exercise I learnt in therapy after having Rex, which really helped me deal with how my body had changed.
Postpartum bodies are fucking minefield of a subject and one I reckon we could all have talked about in group for hours. We were given two life-size female figures and asked to annotate them, the first with the way we saw ourselves and the second with how we thought our babies see us. And the contrast was stark.
Almost everything we noted about ourselves was negative; cellulite, jelly belly, muffin top, bags under our eyes, hair that breaks and falls out as soon as you touch it, droopy boobs, veins everywhere, no bladder control, c-section scars that haunt and still hurt some, the list went on.
But when thought about our baby sees our bodies, it was all positive. Babies don’t see any of the physical imperfections we think we have. They aren't bothered by our so-called bingo wings, instead they see comfort in our arms and shoulders and safety in our cuddle. Bags under our eyes are ignored, instead they see love in our eyes and entertainment in our faces and mouth. And our child-bearing hips that some of us hated up to that point we then saw as the new favourite place for our tiny humans to sit. The session was enlightening, and I've honestly never felt more in awe of and grateful for my body.
Postpartum body: Mum, your boobs look like feet
During the session in which we did this exercise there was a lot of tears, but also a lot of love, compassion, empathy and laughter too. Support groups like this not only help you deal with parental issues your facing, they also put you into contact with some of the most wonderful people. The standout conversation I remember from that session what when one of the other mums said her little boy wandered into the bathroom recently and told her that her boobs look like feet because they were ‘sooooooo long’. You’ve got to love the honesty of kids, right?
Another mum not so long ago told me when her little boy saw her pubic hair, he pointed and shouted ‘Ergh Mummy, POO!’. Thankfully my pelvic floor was in tact then, otherwise there most definitely would’ve been a puddle on the floor.
For anyone who thinks they might need some help, with any aspect of parenting, I can't recommend support groups like this enough. The group I went to is where I learnt to appreciate myself more and not be as hard on myself as a mum. And that actually, all Rex really wants is for me to love him and be there.
As a new mum, I was always very quick to focus on what I can’t do, or what I’m not doing right, and I still am like that to a degree now. But now I do also stop and recognise the countless things I am doing or trying to do to be the best mum I can for Rex. And you should too.
Be kind to yourselves, lovely ladies, and you're newly found, beautiful postpartum bodies.
For more information on support groups, head over the parent support page.