There's been photos of saggy bellies and nappy wearing women doing the rounds on social media lately. I love the honesty of these posts but I also think they are a little on the extreme side and they're always negative -- verging on scare mongering. We love to share our war stories, I get it. But, contrary to the current social media conversation, sometimes these changes to our bodies are for the better.
I can do everything I used to do and, in addition, keep another human alive.
Let me give you some examples. Since giving birth, my arms are stronger. My whole body is stronger than it has ever been. I can survive on less sleep. I can do everything I used to do and, in addition, keep another human alive. My hands have a newfound ability to care for an infant. They are much steadier and softer, more gentle. They can do things they never dreamed they would be able to do. My new child-bearing body is a dead set legend, in my opinion. My boobs are still sitting up there like a pair of battle-hardened war vets telling all the young boobies to have some respect. And my scar is a reminder of the day the best little thing ever came to live with us.
The truth is -- and women all over the world are about to groan in disgust at what I'm going to say -- I love my post-baby body. Not because of the way it looks but because of what it did. What it's still doing. What it will do again.
There have been many occasions when my body should have packed it in, should have said: "Screw you, I'm out." But it never did. And yet somehow, time and time again, everyone wants to talk about stretch marks and their 4 cm abdominal separation instead of the amazingness of what their body just did. Of carrying a baby in your belly, getting said baby out of your belly, recovery, breastfeeding and child rearing in general.
We post photos of the parts of our post-baby body that we hate and then we are applauded for that? I just don't understand it. Why are we conditioning women to hate their post-baby bodies? Why do I feel like I'm betraying all womenkind when, at mothers group I say in a small voice: "But I like my bod?".
I think if we all reach deep down into our baby addled hearts, we would realise that the way our bodies change is kind of irrelevant to our overall family planning decisions.
The body posts are right in one way, we should be realistic about our expectations of ourselves and our bodies after childbirth. It's not all roses, but it's a damn sight easier if you actually like yourself while you're doing it.
I think if we all reach deep down into our baby addled hearts, we would realise that the way our bodies change is kind of irrelevant to our overall family planning decisions. If someone had told me, prior to conceiving, that "each baby will give you 17 stretch marks, a set of stretched abdominal muscles that will never meet in the middle again and an extra 10 kilograms that you will never lose", I would still have babies.
And I would like my body for giving me those babies. I would give it a standing ovation.
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