In my early twenties I took a lot of pride in my appearance. At the age of 23 I was a self-confessed gym junkie. I would be at the gym by 5:30am (as soon as they opened) and would work out for an hour. I’d then shower and get ready for work before setting off for my 12 hour shift. After I finished work at 7pm I would then head back to the gym for around another hour or two, depending on what classes they had on offer and how many calories I had already managed to burn. It was the first time in my life that I actually started to like my body. I realised I had control over how it looked and was determined to not only make it look good, but to ensure it was strong and athletic too.
By the age of 25 I started to realise the balance between food and exercise and realised that I didn’t have to work out as much and was actually a lot healthier if I ate better as well. At this time I was trying to fall pregnant so holistic health was at the forefront of my priorities. I still kept up regular gym sessions and watched everything I ate. As far as body image goes I thought I had a fairly positive one, there were things I didn’t like about my body and wanted to change but I didn’t despise the way I looked. There were also a lot of things I liked about my body – I loved my boobs, loved how strong my legs were and the muscle definition they had, I loved my stomach and the abs that were showing and I loved my arms and how strong they were.
When I fell pregnant I was so excited to see my tummy swell and take shape as the life inside of me grew. Little did I realise what was ahead of me. During my first trimester I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a condition described as extreme morning sickness. I lost around 7kg and looked pale, gaunt and ghostly. My pregnancy was sucking every bit of energy from me. After week 12 I finally started to feel a little better and was able to start putting on weight. By the end of my pregnancy I had only gained 10kg above my pre-pregnancy weight. I loved the way my body looked while I was pregnant, and as an added bonus I never had to worry about feeling bloated because you could never tell with a pregnant belly! Woohoo!
Pregnant with Alexander 35 weeks
After I gave birth to my gorgeous little man I started to see the massive changes that had taken place in my body. My once toned and firm stomach was now squishy and soft, my once perky boobs were becoming engorged with milk and I could feel the skin itch as it was stretching (I knew stretch marks wouldn’t be too far behind) and my once strong body now was feeling the effects of not going to the gym for months. But you know what? I have never loved my body more. Sure, there were times where I looked at my stomach and wished to see the abs I had before, but this body carried life. This body had now achieved way more than it could ever achieve in any gym session.
Now, 18 months later, I still have a squishy tummy, I have diastasis recti that refuses to heal, my boobs have shrunk and sunken and resemble something more like elongated ski slopes now and who has that much time for the gym with a toddler to chase after? I have never been more proud of my body and what it can do. I am still breastfeeding my son, 18 months later. I have lost and gained my milk supply over and over again. My body is amazing. To be honest, I’m even a little sad that the few stretch marks I had on my tummy are starting to fade – they were a beautiful reminder that I carried my perfect little man inside of me for 9 months.
So to all the mums out there who shy away from their stretch marks, huff over the few extra kilograms they are carrying around or sing the ode to their once perky boobs, just remember, you body is amazing. You are amazing. Take some time to truly think about what your body has achieved and stop being so hard on yourself. There’s so much to love about you.
Let us know what you love about yourself, whether it’s post baby or not, there’s a whole lot to love.