For some women, pregnancy may leave little more than the memory as a reminder that they've become a mother.
The truth and reality is, contrary to what mainstream media has us see, expect and believe, most women are left with lasting changes to their bodies.
Many women grumble that their motherhood body is nothing like the body they enjoyed pre-pregnancy.
Some women complain that stretch marks snake across their breasts, stomach and hips with no sign of leaving.
Others complain that their breasts simply don't look as full as they once did, and despair at their now ‘saggy boobs'.
For other women, it is the baby weight that refuses to budge that causes the most grief.
Whatever changes you have noticed, you may find yourself cursing your new mum body with despair.
It's completely understandable why so many women experience these struggles. Society has played a huge part in feeding us unrealistic images of motherhood for a long time now. But do you know what?! Real is the new sexy. Being comfortable in our own skins and with our ‘gifts of imperfection' (read some Brene Brown!) is truly helping us feel better about who we are and more lovable.
Embracing the transformational changes in post baby body is a journey within your motherhood journey. An important one, at that. It asks for your care and attention. Even for your gentle affection. Here, we share with you five reasons why your body is better now that you're a mother, in acknowledgement of your awesomeness and the reals of ‘becoming mum'.
#1: You Made A Baby
This might seem like an obvious one, but it's important to keep it at the forefront of your mind. You made a baby from scratch. You created a new life, and it was all thanks to your body. You might have read the pregnancy manuals, attended prenatal yoga and spent a fortune on baby gear, but it was your body who did most of the work. And yes, perhaps it shows in places. Maybe there are a few fading stretch marks over your stomach, where your skin stretched towards the end of the pregnancy as your baby grew bigger and stronger. But give your body a break, it made a baby. And, while we're at it, not just a baby, the best baby ever.
#2: You Have A New Relationship
The new relationship is not the one you have with your baby, though of course that is amazing, it's the one you have with your body. Probably for the first time ever, you truly understand what your body is capable of. You may have been aware that your body could climb, run, or conquer new skills before, but that's nothing compared to the feat of growing and birthing baby. As you welcome your baby into the world, you should feel at least a little bit of admiration for what your body can do. Be proud of what your body achieved, and try to focus on this rather than the odd postpartum blemish.
#3: It Tells Your Story
Your body is yours, and yours alone. It is your body and tells the story of your life. From the scar on your knee you got falling over in the playground, to the freckles on your shoulders that appeared the summer of your first love, your body is the roadmap of your life. And now you've added a new chapter. The stretch marks across your hips are a reminder of your pregnancy, and that nine month wait to meet the baby who is now your world. You may worry that your nipples are different now, but that's because they tell the story of their role in providing nourishment for your new baby. Instead of seeing these changes as problems, see them as reminders of that chapter of your life.
#4: It's Not The Only Thing To Have Changed
Yes, your body has changed, but so have you. Your priorities have changed, your friendship groups may even have changed, and you may have switched careers to fit in with childcare – or ditched the career altogether to provide that care yourself. You're not the same person you were before you fell pregnant, and that's ok. You will have witnessed change in almost every area of your life since the birth of your child – from your relationship, your home (does a carpet-effect of plastic toys count as home decor?), your pastimes (aka, napping). You have probably accepted a lot of differences in yourself now that you are a mother, so isn't it about time you offered the same luxury to your body?
#5: It's An Educational Tool
Children, even young children, learn through observation. Your child is watching you all the time, seeing, accepting and then copying your behaviours. You are a role model now, whether you like it or not, and so is your body. You daughters and sons are looking to you to teach them about body image, so make sure you do a good job. Don't criticise your mum tum or moan about your stretch marks, instead embrace your new body. Find things you love about it, like the fact that it gave you children, and make sure your kids hear about them. Your body has the opportunity to teach your kids a very valuable lesson in body confidence, so make sure you don't let it down.
Love begins at home and with self. How can you love your new motherhood body more today?