I love my babies. Now I am learning to love my body.

Just before getting into the shower I catch a little glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. I grimace. I look away quickly, and cringe a little never being entirely happy with what I see.

Body image is a beast for new mamas. How we look goes hand in hand with how we feel.

And with that grimace, and later reflecting on my visceral response to my own flesh, I have realized: I have been too critical of my body, especially after having had babies.

Often as women, our post-baby body is at the center of our worries, fears, misgivings and aversions.It’s too soft, too flabby, too saggy, too stretched, and too uneven. Are our expectations of what we should look like after having a baby realistic? Too idealistic? We are conditioned by a culture that is infatuated with body image and obsessed with perfection. It doesn’t teach us to embrace and love our post-baby body with all its changes and imperfections. Instead the post-baby body becomes a scapegoat. Getting our body back post-baby gets tremendous focus. Bizarrely, even though we know that our lives will never be the same again once we have had a baby, we expect our bodies go back to the way they were. The truth is, I try to remind myself, that our lives and bodies change. Forever.

IMG_3316.JPGWe may go back to the same weight and perhaps some lucky ones even manage to look as they looked pre-baby, but our bodies will have stretched, sagged and drooped in places and some changes never fully reverse because we are also getting older. Chances are there are a couple of stretch marks. The hips and pelvic most certainly act as a constant reminder that we have carried babies. Our bellies will look different. We give them cute names like Mummy Tummy and Baby Pouch even though we dislike them and would trade the Jelly Belly for a Sixpack any day. Our core will have weakened and our tummy muscles will have stretched. After the birth of our baby and as the hormones readjust, we may loose hair and for a couple of months sport spikey baby hair where we once had long locks. And that’s not even going into all the finer details of the female anatomy and the strain a pregnancy and a birth can place on us.

However, and despite all that, post-baby bodies are B_E_A_U_T_I_F_U_L, if only those, who own them, could see that.

We fail to see the amazing things our bodies are capable of. They may not look perfect but they have wicked skills and features.

The upper arms are buff and ready like mum guns. They look deadly and are super toned because we spend our day carrying and lifting a baby, shopping bags, schoolbags, baskets of washing, the MaxiCosi, you name it.

We are able to carry our baby AND our toddler while pushing a shopping trolley. (contact me for more details on how to do that 😉

Our bodies will be able to deploy energy resources we never knew we had to get up and feed baby multiple times at night, attend to the toddler who is afraid of the dark and still get up at the crack of dawn to make school lunches.

We are able to take multitasking to a whole new level. We can bounce the baby on one hip, while cooking dinner, help with homework, have a phone conversation and do some colouring. (Read more here)

We acquire Ninja reflexes in order to keep your babies safe from harm and never have we been able to jump up this fast when danger looms. Our minds are going 24/7 never stopping or slowing down.

photoOur ability to hear is off the charts. We are like frickin’ bats.

All of those things are miraculous and incredible. They are beautiful and they make us beautiful. The mom bod is gorgeous. Go on, I dare you to say it. So yes, our lives, and our bodies do change because of motherhood. I am a stronger person because of this transformation. This body has grown and stretched, but so have our hearts. Instead of mourning our pre-baby bodies, we should think about the little mummy tummy as a gift. It is a reminder to us of the little miracles that grew inside it. The lines and wrinkles around our eyes are from a lack of sleep no doubt but also from smiling and laughing as we watch our babies grow. With the change in body, our entire life changes, our self-image changes and the way we view the world. Having legs that are only half shaved isn’t a show stopper.

The next time before I jump into the shower I am going to stop and look at myself and show a little respect to the body that has been home to my 4 babies, has nursed them, carried and rocked them despite of exhaustion, despite a sore hip and an aching back and say “Thank you!”

This post first appeared on Mother.ly who I am very proud to blog for as part of their #MotherlyStories series! Please check out their site for lots of advice and support.

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Also on Huffington Post 

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19 thoughts on “I love my babies. Now I am learning to love my body.

  1. Oh this is brilliant! It has made me feel so empowered! I just need to stop adding to my problems with copious amounts of chocolate! I too have done the baby and toddler trolley push and I don’t actually know how we manage it, I wouldn’t be able to lift a weight like that but when needs must, I can push through the pain, (much like labour!), and get sh*t done! Not that I’ve needed to do that in a while thankfully! Thanks for linking again!! #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is what I need to remember when i look at my saggy tummy in the morning. I need to realise that our bodies have been through a lot and may never get back to how itonce was. Fab post!

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  3. “With the change in body, our entire life changes, our self-image changes and the way we view the world. Having legs that are only half shaved isn’t a show stopper.”
    Never a truer word was spoken. I am astonished that now I don’t even care if I haven’t shaved my legs before swimming class, let alone if I’m wearing make up or looking trendy, and I NEVER thought I could bear to be seen in anything less than 6 inch heels and a perfect outfit. So funny how your priorities change. #PasstheSauce

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  4. This is such a lovely thing to write about! We are amazing people for being able to carry our little ones through pregnancy and beyond. I don’t believe that there are many lucky ones that bounce back after pregnancy, totally the medias fault! I’ve got my body back to a weight I am happy with 9 months on, but it’s not the same. I love my bundle! Thanks for positng x #familyfun

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  5. I LOVE this! All new mums should have to read it. You are so right that everywhere we turn it’s ‘get your body back’ ‘ditch the mum tum’ and so on. Oh and stretch mark cream.. I wrote a post about my pregnancy and in that I said how my body is now covered in stretch marks but I wouldn’t wish them away; they are a reminder of an amazing process which resulted in the single best thing, EVER! It’s so easy to feel down about big bellies, stretch marks and wider hips especially when you have friends going out clubbing with crop tops on, but it’s a sign that I am a mother now, which is essentially the same as being a superhero (!!) and is just what I want to be. #familyfun

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  6. This is a beautifully written post. I have so many favourite parts. And yes, we know our lives are going to be forever changed once we become a mother so why do we think our bodies won’t be?! That said, I’ve been immensely lucky to have a body that’s not far off (accounting for obvious the march of time) what it was in my late 20’s. Let’s see how long that lasts. I love the sentiment of your post. Bravo. Thanks for joining #passthesauce

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  7. Very very true! Us mum’s do so much, run around non stop and yes we need to appreciate our bodies have changed too… surely with all this toddler carrying I must be stronger than I was before?!! 🙂 Very well written, thank you for sharing on #thebabyformula

    Like

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