Thank you for stopping by my guest series ‘My body is beautiful because…‘
Today, we have Rachael sharing her intriguing story about her postpartum body and the unwanted attention she received because of it. It’s a really interesting read and flips some of the conventional thinking about ‘bouncing back’ on it’s head!
So – I’ll hand you over to Rachael:
Hello! I’m Rachael and I live just outside Manchester with my fiancé, our 12 week old little boy, Theodore & our two fur babies; Flo & Luna. I run a parenting and lifestyle website ‘From Rachael Claire‘ where I share my journey through the ups and downs of motherhood!
I love my body because it has grown and given birth to my baby. I just don’t always like it. Is it beautiful? I’m not so sure.
Growing up I was always conscious of my body, I hated the idea of getting ‘fat’. I’ve always been a size 10 and I put it down to a good metabolism because I ate for England and always have done. I’ve never been the healthiest of people or the most active. I danced a lot when I was younger but that all stopped once I got to the top end of secondary school and I’ve never really bothered with exercise since. That isn’t anything I am proud of! However when I found out I was pregnant, my fear of gaining weight and my changing shape completely disappeared! I couldn’t wait to watch my belly grow every month and I was never worried about getting stretch marks, if they came, they came. It’s part of the pregnancy package!
During my pregnancy with Teddy, I gained almost two and a half stone. I was weighed by my midwife at my first antenatal appointment and I weighed myself right at the end, on my due date. I didn’t weigh myself during my pregnancy at all. People thought I was exaggerating but the numbers really didn’t matter to me. I genuinely didn’t care how much weight I gained.
When I looked back I realised that my fear of getting ‘fat’ was that my slender, big boobs, slim waisted body was what I craved because that is what society deems as acceptable and celebrates. I hadn’t realised that I had piled pressure on myself to stay that way because I was seeking some fucked-up sort of acceptance. When really, as soon as I had a reason to gain weight and have my body shape change, I completely embraced it.
I ended up having a forceps delivery with Teddy, in theatre and as soon as he arrived the midwife turned to me and commented on how my belly had gone straight back to ‘normal’. I didn’t really think anything of it as I was on such a *’oh my god, my baby is here’* high. Then at our community midwife appointment when he was 10 days old, she checked my belly and made a comment about how I had ‘gone right back to normal’ and how lucky I was. I don’t know why but it got my back up slightly. When we took Teddy into our work place to show him off, people made comments such as *’lucky bitch, back in your jeans, i’m surprised you’ve gone back to normal because your belly was massive*.’ It was never my intention to bounce back! I really hate that saying.
I was so proud of what my body had achieved and yet people felt they had a right to comment on my body in a negative way. I know they probably thought I would be flattered, but it had the opposite effect. All I read are articles or comments about how women aren’t meant to ‘bounce back’ after gjving birth, we should embrace our new bodies but what if we don’t have a new body to embrace? Does that make my experience any different? My belly still wobbles, if you jiggle it just right, but I weigh less now than I did before I got pregnant. When people ask me how much weight I have to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight; not only do I get slightly offended as I don’t understand what it has to do with them, but I also feel like I have to lie.
As time goes on I can feel myself creeping back to my old ways. People are commenting on how slim I look and how amazing it is, so I can feel anxieties coming back about gaining weight again. I know people will probably be reading this and wondering what the fuck I am complaining about. However I can’t stop niggling voices in the back of my mind making me feel shitty about my body.
Body, I love you. You gave me the most incredible gift I could ever imagine.
I just don’t like you right now, but I’m working on it.
Thank you Rachael – this is a really important message that I think is completely forgotten when we talk about postpartum bodies. I’ve actually had a few comments from readers explaining their insecurities with similar issues – being subjected to rude or envious comments because of their lack of weight gain, so I think this will resonate with many people. I really hope you find the relationship with your body that you completely deserve!
If you’ve got a “My body is beautiful because” story to share and would love to be featured, then I’d love to have you. Get in touch and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for some more information.