By Contributor Amanda (@littlenancygifts)
I want to talk about body image while pregnant and afterwards. I'm sure you've all read an article or two about what NOT to say to a pregnant woman. I want to try and explain the nitty gritty of that, especially from my point of view and how I felt after pregnancy as I dealt with the changes in my body.
My husband and I were discussing this a few weeks ago. He asked me why I (and women in general) reacted so sensitively to comments about our size when pregnant. As he sees it, it's like this - "but they are saying these things not because you're 'fat' but because you're pregnant. You're belly is bigger because you're having a baby. They don't mean it to be insulting." And he's right.
I'm sure the comments that are made are in reference to our pregnant belly being bigger and not specifically about our weight. I'm sure there are women out there who don't mind the comments and in fact embrace them. However, this was my detailed 'woman's brain' response...
You see, we spend a lot of time as just ourselves before we are pregnant. We know ourselves pretty well. We know what type of clothes look good on us, what style of jeans or t shirt will look the most flattering and we expect to see this version of ourselves when we look in the mirror.
Of course, when we're growing a baby inside us our looks change. We put on "weight". We KNOW it's not 'weight weight' it's pregnancy weight. It's not 'I've let myself go' weight, it's 'growing a human' weight, and for each woman that weight comes in varying degrees. From 7 kgs to 35kgs and in different ways.
Some women are 'all belly', some blow up with massive amounts of fluid, some have tiny bellies, some look like basketballs under t shirts... I was somewhere in the middle, putting on about 20 kgs for each one of my pregnancies. I certainly wasn't 'all belly'. It's hard enough to adjust to that yourself, without adding comments, criticism or innuendo about your size.
All you need is a "wow you're big" "Oh you're tiny?" "Are you sure there's only one in there?" "HOW long have you got to go?" "You could pop any minute" "I've never seen anyone with a pregnant belly like that before". Oh yes. Only one of these is enough for the pang of rage to start bubbling inside you because NEWS FLASH - we ARE sensitive about our size!! Despite knowing WHY we are 'huge' it's still not nice to hear it being said out loud. You also have to consider you were just one of the many people who made comments that day. So, while it's lovely talking about your pregnancy, the public commentary on your belly size runs thin pretty quick.
All of a sudden we're different. Hormones, hair, skin, weight, fluid, shoe size, dress size, we're tired all-the-time, cranky-we don't know why, excited, scared, protective - I read the other day via @theglowdotcom a quote from Violet Gaynor (@violetgaynor on Instagram) , "to be re born as a mama is the biggest transition we can go through" and I cannot describe it better myself.
You are no longer the you that you've always known. For me, my pre baby body has never returned. And for the women who you see walking around looking amazing after they've had babies I bet for most of them it wasn't a 'bounce back' thing - they've worked hard for it. And good on them. They will be eating right and exercising. These women are amazing and I admire them so much!!
My mental image of how I expect my reflection to be and what it is when I actually look in the mirror is different. My boobs have lost the subtle fullness they once had pre breast feeding, my stomach has stretch marks and the skin is not firm, my hips and hip area has changed shape, I have scars, my legs and butt have no tone... I'm like an Oreo or 2 away from the full blown mum butt 🙈 My hair is thinner around the frame of my face (seriously, I look like I'm receding), my eyes are tired with dark circles and the pimples come and go.
What I'm saying is, the YOU as you know it changes, evolves and transforms. Right now, I have three little people who depend on me for their survival 24/7. So yeah, I'm tired and I don't look the same as I did pre kids.
Even though I know WHY my body has changed, and the outcome of the body changes have been my amazing babies and I'd do it all again tomorrow, it doesn't take away the sting of looking in the mirror expecting one thing and getting another. The way we shop for clothes and how we look in them changes and it takes a while to adjust to dressing your new body, knowing what works and what doesn't.
You'll find me in skinny high waisted jeans and a boyfriend style shirt for my mum-iform (the mum uniform). Holds all the right things in 👌🏻
Just another note to add - let us talk about our weight. When we want to lose it, start exercising or reducing our Oreo intake from a packet a day to one a day, then support us. Tell us we're beautiful anyway, but let us talk about it. Don't dismiss it as meaningless woman talk. We're vulnerable and looking to regain some control over our body.