Pregnancy has changed my relationship with my body
When my pregnancy first started to show, I was shocked. The blooming tummy popped out overnight and I burst into tears. I knew this was going to happen, but after years of trying to obtain a resemblance of a flat stomach, I now had a round tummy that I was only going to get bigger and I didn’t know how my body will ever go back to normal post-pregnancy.
Once I was out of that “is she pregnant or just bloated” territory, I fully embraced my bump. I adored every flutter and kick and loved seeing just how much my stomach can stretch (women’s bodies are truly miraculous).
As much as I finally enjoyed my new body, I always had in the back of my mind an urge to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothing as soon as possible. I think this was brought on in some ways by a soon-to-be mum of twins in our parenting class. She hated how much her body had changed and was crying at the fact that she could only fit into her husband’s shoes and even asked how soon she can exercise after birth. It was so upsetting and I felt guilty for looking more or less like myself but with a bump. She even pointed it out and all I could do was say that she’s doing incredibly well, I don’t know how I’d manage to carry twins!
I don’t know if it’s the social pressures or my expectations, but I was relieved when Lola was finally born because we were so overwhelmed and exhausted from being new parents, that I didn’t even think about exercise or how I looked.
I have always been petite
Ever since horrid stomach flu in my teens brought on by overly tight braces that prevented me chewing any solid foods for a good eight weeks, I have been on the slim side. At the time, I was even asked by my headmistress if I had anorexia. I didn’t. I was so hungry but the blasted braces were on too tight and for some reason, no one thought that I should go to the dentist and get them loosened up!
That brief period of unintended starvation has kept me in a size 6/8 territory. When we found out we were pregnant, I knew that I would like to keep up with certain workouts and introduce swimming, especially in the third trimester.
My birth plan
I also knew that I wanted a C-section birth and was keen to speak to my friend who had two procedures in the past. She told me to try and stay as fit as possible throughout as not only does that give you the strength to get through the newborn days of rocking and soothing, but your body recovers quicker from surgery. Not only that, but she also felt that this is what helped reduce the look over the overhang that many who had the procedure tend to see around the scar area.
My doctor in Dubai was incredible and the birth was over in 30 minutes with no issues. After a day I had to stand up which was hideously painful, but I continued to do as much walking as possible at the hospital and then we were discharged three days later.
At home, I found it easy to walk up the stairs and I continued to move as much as possible. I didn’t mind the scar, it’s the 10 days of injections to prevent blood clots which I found horrendous.
The healing process
Weeks went by and the healing was going smoothly, most of the pain had subsided but the numbness around the scar area and the slight skin overhang would remain of another year.
I continued swimming but avoided any intense activity until my stomach muscles came back together. By the time Lola was 2, I felt my body was pretty much back to how it was before pregnancy and the overhang was gone.
Where I am now with my body
My attitude towards my body has significantly shifted. Despite living in Dubai where it’s beach season all year round, I no longer cared as my body did something truly amazing. It grew a child who is now an incredible little girl who I hope to raise with as fewer body hang-ups as possible.
I feel now more than ever we are embracing our imperfections and not letting them stop us from enjoying life. If you want daily inspiration, follow my past editor Danae Mercer who has created an inspiring community of body-positive humans.
I still exercise, but I do it when I feel like it which sometimes can be once a month. I try and maintain a healthy and diverse diet because I want Lola to have a balanced lifestyle too, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t indulge. If anything I’ve eaten more since being back in the UK.
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A couple of people in the past have messaged me about my C-section “overhang”, one of the most recent ones was only 4 months post-partum and I told her that it takes time and to not put pressure on herself. I know there are surgical interventions too so there are many options to make you feel your best self, but do it for you and not what social media filters dictate.
We need to be able to enjoy all elements of our pregnancy and motherhood and focus on things that matter, especially after the mad year we all had.