I spent most of my life being uncomfortable with my body, and my post-partum body was no different.
There was brand new jiggles, wrinkles, blemishes and lumps, and I started to wonder why I had taken my pre-baby body for granted.
Fast forward to being a mum of 5, and my body is a lot different to how it was after my first child. But what's changed most is my attitude to my body-I have realised it isn't about the skin that houses my body, but what goes on inside, and that is truly magical. I've realised that my body is the way it is because of some of the amazing things it has done.
It's no secret that the whole process of conception, pregnancy, birth and beyond absolutely fascinates me; how a woman's body is finely designed to make and grow these beautiful little miracles (and don't get me started on my love of belly buttons!). My children and I have had many a conversation about why my body looks the way it does after growing them, and they're almost as fascinated about it all as I am.
It's also no secret that I don't like to comply to the common standards that society holds for appearance. As the saying goes: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". To me, everyone is perfect. I've always had an attraction to "imperfections" as they're what makes us unique.
Whether they're jiggly and lumpy, or lean and smooth. Bodies are bodies, and the changes during pregnancy, the degree of change, the size, shape- everything about your body and soul that changed with each pregnancy, it should make you proud. Because you are already a 100% perfect version of yourself, and your body has done some pretty clever things.
Anyway, the point of this post; I wanted to post something to try make mothers see their bodies the way I see them. I hate to think of other women feeling the sheer horror I felt the first time I caught a glimpse of my naked body after my first child was born- although I'm sure at some point most people who have been through pregnancy do feel disgusted by their own bodies. Times have changed dramatically since then and now I wear my mum-bod proud. Proud of the children I have to show for it. I'm not the whole way there but I'm well on my way to loving the skin I'm in, and I want others to feel the same way.
So here I have a collection of women after pregnancy. They have all carried babies, some not for quite as long as others. They have all birthed a baby, their bodies have all changed. They are all at different places on their journey to come to terms with the way their bodies look post-baby. And they are all beautiful.
I asked these mums to think about what it was they love about their bodies now, and why they love it. Some of the replies made me cry; these mothers are truly amazing!
Meekah, 3 pregnancies
Aleisha, five pregnancies
"I love my new stomach, my kids say it's squishy like playdoh and as snuggly as a pillow. I have too many stretchmarks to count but I'm thankful that I was able to carry my babies for long enough to cause them. They are now my little battle scars 🙂 "
Anonymous, 4 pregnancies
"I'm proud to say I've carried 4 beautiful children, and come out the other end looking like I do! Iv been extremely lucky!! (this is my good angle) all us mothers know the saggy pouch we get when lied on our sides, 😂 even I have a love hate relationship with myself sometimes, but I do love my body and its is so worth it for our kids."
Lauren, 3 pregnancies
"My tummy grew my children, held them & kept them safe inside of me until it was my turn to take over. And because of that I will never hate what I see. And I am in no rush to change the way I look as every day I see my scars and wobbly bits and I am reminded just how lucky I am to have had the privilege to grow 2 amazing little versions of myself."
Zoe, 4 pregnancies
"Since having babies my body has changed a lot, my stomach isn't flat, I have stretch marks and my hips are wider but I love all these things, i don't mourn the body I once had this is just a different phase. I love that my body fed my third child and I stay body confident for my three kids so that they grow up with healthy attitudes towards body image.'
"I have never had bikini body but since having kids my baby has changed a lot and everything has gotten BIGGER, my belly, my boobs and my bum. What I love most is that I now have a stomach, back and bum that is covered in sliver lines and I wear tiger strips with pride because they helped bring my children into the world and they are something I will carry with me forever, sort of like a natural tattoo that my babies helped create. I also love the bigger boobs too even if they are pointing more south after breastfeeding 4 kids."
"At first I didn't like my stretch marks, I felt like my body was ugly and would never be the same again. But as my bump grew big and I could feel my little girl inside kicking and wriggling I became proud of them! In fact I hope my body never does look how it used to because it shows that my tummy was my baby girls home for 9 months! I couldn't be prouder of my body and the amazing things it went through during those 9 months and after! ❤️"
Emily, two pregnancies
"My twin baby tummy reminds me every day that my baby boys had each other not only when I was growing them, but for the rest of their lives, and to me that makes my body beautiful"
Sydney, 6 pregnancies
"My body is not the same as it used to be, but i love it more now because i have realised how amazing it really is, having grown, birthed and nourished five little people!"
Zoe, 5 pregnancies
"So this is my belly in its full glory, 8 weeks post partum on baby number 3. Yes I have stretch marks and imperfections but I don't care. This belly housed my three beautiful boys and if I could I would let it house 3 more!
It isn't perfect it won't be in any magazines but I love every inch of it because ultimately it brought joy, happiness, laughter, fun and lots of love into my life. In fact not just my life and my husbands but a lot of people's lives and that is amazing and something I would never change!❤"
"I look at my body and 80% of the time, I'm unhappy with it.
At times I've even dreamt of chopping the fat away and hoped for the 'stereotypical' or 'conventional' body: size 10, C/D cup size, long hair, flawless skin.....Instead, I've looked at myself in the mirror and seen a size 18/20, H cup with split ends and spots!
Then I think about what my body has given me! Two beautiful babies and a husband who adores me. A husband who tells me everyday he loves me and my body. A husband who stresses how much he fancies me. A husband who would sacrifice his life for me and my children.
I realise then that despite the stretch marks, sagging and fat I hate so much is ME! Even if I only see this 20% of the time, it makes me appreciate my body and how wonderful it really is!
"This body has carried both my beautiful children....I may not like how it looks but for what it has given me, I will be forever in awe". '
"Strangely enough I love my little (yes just one) stretch mark. This came with my second pregnancy and almost competely faded afterwards, I was gutted as it was proof of my angel babas residence in there. After third pregnancy it is back and I couldn't be happier 😀. I've never been a person who's particularly happy with the appearance of my body but since my children I have little bits to focus on such as my scar, stretch mark and saggy bits to remind me it's not important, my body brought my wonderful children into the world so it's actually pretty amazing 😀 "
Taylor, two pregnancies
"For a long time I struggled with my postnatal body
It's a love hate relationship currently
But without the stretchmarks, c-section pouch and my three monsters who gave me them - I wouldn't be me
I am proud of my post pregnancy body because it reminds me daily how lucky I am to have my children and their unconditional love
I am doing this to show other mums that we are all beautiful and don't all look like celeb mums do in the media and that is just fine with me"
"I love my stretch marks on my post baby body, as this is a reminder of the amazing thing my body has done. I've grown two beautiful healthy little boys."
"Pregnancy was a massive shock to me both times. Slowly though thanks to Amazon and the NHS I became informed on every aspect of pregnancy,labour and beyond.
The only thing I was in the dark about was my post natal body. I was bombarded by all these picture perfect mums skilfully photo shopped and there I was swollen,sore and tearful with this little baby yelling at me at 2am.
The day I finally fell in love with my body was the day my children were squishing my post natal belly. They were so amazed that they had been inside of it for 9 whole months. "Look mama we left cracks you grew us so big" my youngest said to me. They saw nothing but the truly amazing and awesome body that grew them and nourished them for 9 months. That's the day I really saw how incredible my body was."
We only get one body, (and a clever one at that) your after-baby body is something to be proud of, not to be ashamed of, and no two post-baby bodies are the same! I hope this post helps mums everywhere- the ones reading, or the ones that were amazing enough to take part- to embrace their body, and learn how to turn societies negatives into body positives.
I'd also like to say a massive thank you to all the wonderful ladies that helped me out with this project, I hope thinking about why you love your body has made you feel that extra little bit positive. You are all so beautiful.
Love, Lucy x
Go check out one of my amazing mummys blog here: Keep Strong And Moving Forward