Floating near the top of the ‘Things to make mums feel bad’ file, slightly behind the ‘How you gave birth to your baby (sunroof C section or standard delivery?)’ and ‘Did you breastfeed or not? comes the ever popular, highly discriminating category: Baby Weight. Yes, in addition to the pressures of how much weight you’ve put on during pregnancy (not referring to health pressures, but cosmetic): ‘big everywhere/ just a bump/ too pregnant/ not up the duff looking enough’, comes all the ‘well meaning’ concern of how soon or will you ever (SHOCK HORROR) lose the baby weight you’ve put on, creating life. Sad but true. Dolly Parton got it right when she sang, “Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman” and to think, she wasn’t even referring to her womb.
I get it, we’re ‘totes’, to (waters) breaking point, saturated with images of skinny, mostly supermodel mums leaving the hospital or ‘post hiding after birth period’, cradling newborns in their size 6 J Brand jeans and 4 inch Louboutins. Brilliant. Have you ever stood next to a supermodel or any model for that matter? I’ve directed fashion films and let me tell you, these women are otherworldly with their never ending limbs and naturally lithe bodies. Cotton wool eating aside (really)-it’s the way they were made. They’re not your average woman, and that’s why we’re not all models (worth noting this small detail next time you flick through Vogue and wonder why you’re struggling for a mirror image) yet we’re expected to compare ourselves, pregnant or not, with these super, hyper-beautiful human beings. Girlfriend, please. Yes, I have mates who are naturally slim and their baby weight (with not everyone gaining a lot in the first place) literally disappeared the moment their babies appeared, like some kind of weight loss Faustian pact and that’s fantastic-I’m not envious at all *cough, but every woman is different and according to a family friend and Consultant Nutritionist, if you had to work hard to stay slim before your baby, you’ll most definitely need to afterwards. That I can vouch for personally…
My first pregnancy was tough, I had constant vomiting until 7 months and later the pregnancy liver condition obstetric cholestasis which led to an induction and crash c section. Not the unicorns and rainbows start to motherhood I’d hoped for, then. I put on what is regarded as a healthy 2 and a half stone during pregnancy, but gained another from immobility post surgery and in my struggle to simply survive the sleepless nights, colic and becoming a mother with little help, as we were far from family. Second time round, now close to my folks and sans sickness and OC, along with a tranquil elective, I found I started to lose weight from the start. I felt happy and strong from the get go and perhaps this made some difference. Let me stress though, weight loss wasn’t my priority and in my case, post section, I was left with an expansive, empty stomach, (as often is the case with standard vaginal births), but propped up by a discreet line of stitches which take time to heal. You cannot exercise until the Dr approves at your 6 week check and this often means gentle exercise to begin with. I was only allowed to run after 3 months. It took me 14 months after the birth of my first son to lose my weight (I even lost more, making it to an athletic, curvy UK size 10) and second time, it doesn’t appear to be taking as long as I’ve felt well and able to exercise and diet from 3 months. I do want to lose the weight and resume my normal figure but the healthy way. I love that saying, ‘nine months on, nine months off’ and have attached a poster stating it, to my treadmill. There will always be pressure from the media and our peers but often the worst comes from ourselves. Well this time, I’ve vowed to not be too tough on myself. We can’t stop supermodels from bouncing back into shape to make us feel better but we can be kinder to ourselves. We can realise weight loss (if we want to lose it in the first place) takes time and energy- two highly elusive things when children arrive. It’s OK. Luckily, we don’t have the Paps waiting in bushes outside our homes desperate to take an unflattering picture of us or a Victoria’s Secret catwalk show to model in a month after our babies arrive (most probably-no not you Heidi if you’re reading this) so let’s just take a moment to appreciate what our bodies have done. Our cervix did good. Now go give it a high five and show it some respect. Who wants to look like Miranda Kerr anyway! Erm, not I!
Vicki is a former Magazine Editor and award winning screenwriter and director. You can read more of her musings on motherhood at her popular blog: www.honestmum.com
You can follow her on Twitter @Honestmummy