Women’s bodies are often a topic of conversation and it seems for women who have had babies there are two distinct groups who want their opinions heard. There are the ones who want to lose the ‘baby weight’ and get back into shape instantly and the ones who believe that we should live with our post-baby bodies and love them. But what about the people in the middle? What about the people like me, who didn’t feel the need to control my diet and exercise as soon as I had given birth but equally who don’t love their post baby bodies?
I may be speaking solely for myself but I feel like a failure to both of these groups. Magazines show what my body ‘should’ and could look like if I just put enough in. I didn’t put much weight on when I was pregnant and I was very active until the day of birth, so I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes after a week without exercising. My problem came when I stopped breastfeeding my son. I continued to eat as if I still was still feeding him and so this is when I really should have started my fitness regime to remain in ‘pre-pregnancy’ shape, but I didn’t because I didn’t feel the need to. I’m not overweight, I’m actually a very healthy weight but I no longer look like I did. This is where I feel a failure. I have not managed to regain my pre-pregnancy body.
So we come to the other end of the spectrum – the group that says ‘so what if you don’t look like you did before having a baby’. This groups tells me I should love the way I look and embrace all the imperfections of my body because I carried a child in it and that’s a beautiful thing to be able to do. I agree, it is a fantastic experience, but it still doesn’t make me love my body. I don’t like the fact that I have stretch marks and I don’t see them as a ‘badge of honour’ or something to be proud of. This doesn’t mean I wish I hadn’t carried a child or I regret having a baby. Far from it, I loved being pregnant and giving birth, it simply means I wish it was possible to carry a child without getting stretch marks. The risk this group of people runs is making women feel like bad mothers for saying that they do not like their post baby bodies. I feel like I fail this group because I don’t embrace my body and think it’s beautiful because of what it has gone through. I personally feel like it’s a mess because of what it has gone through, but it’s very difficult to express that opinion without either being given advice on post-baby workouts or told that my ‘imperfections’ are perfect.
I personally don’t think that either group is right or wrong. There is nothing wrong with people who get back into shape and remain in shape as soon as they have had a baby, I envy them. Equally there is nothing wrong with people who love their bodies the exact way they are, I envy them too. Problems only arise when these groups of people tell women what they should or shouldn’t be doing. It just leads to us feeling like failures twice over.