In defence of THAT post-baby sexy selfie…

Before I gave birth to first child I swore to myself that no matter what followed, I’d never lose myself. My me-ness.

I’d spent 24 growing into a version of myself I was happy with. I was a wife, a lover, a friend, a journalist, a snowboarder and a bookworm (among many other things). I was the fit, proud owner of a cracking right kick and, for the first time in my life, had some upper-leg muscle definition. Hurrah!

I was in a great place, so I vowed to myself that the decision to become a mother wouldn’t drown out all the other aspects of my being. I’d wear my new title as a badge of honour, but be damned if it would the only thing to define me.

HA! people would say, telling me I’d be lucky enough to remember my name when I was sleep-deprived, covered with vomit and living knee-deep in shitty nappies.

They’d laugh at the ridiculous pledge made by the naive first-time mother. She says that now, but when the baby’s here there won’t be time for her to shower, let alone read a book or exercise. She’s friggin’ KIDDING HERSELF.

And so I welcomed my beautiful baby girl into the world, determined to be a fantastic mum and (gasp!) my same old self.

Predictably, some things changed in the short term.

I had to swap my lacy knickers for sensible black briefs. My wardrobe was suddenly restricted to “clothes I can get my boobs out of”. Exercise was off limits for six weeks (no-one wants their pelvic floor to fall out!) and I was ridiculously pick-your-eyeballs-up-off-the-floor tired. Hot teas were a distant memory, as were hot dinners and hot sex.

I was also utterly floored by the wondrous, squishy-faced angel we brought home from the hospital. She was ours to feed, love and nurture from now until the end of our days. In so many ways nothing would be the same.

And yet here I was, the same old me (with slightly sorer boobs and a hell of a lot more responsibility). I wanted to shout it from the rooftops: I’m still me, everyone!

I’m as happy, fit, young, vibrant, strong and sexy as I ever was.

To reaffirm my me-ness, I emailed the following photos to one of my best friends:

DSC02077 DSC02211

I asked her to “indulge my ego for a moment” and take a look at the shots, taken the night before the birth of my first child and one week later. Sure, I was proud of my post-baby body – I’d enjoyed staying fit and healthy during my pregnancy – but I was also genuinely in awe of the strength and resilience of the female form.

So it’s with a pang of guilt that I see people like Norwegian fitness blogger Caroline Berg Eriksen receive an almighty slap-down from bloggers, writers, Norwegian politicians and everyone in between for posting this photo on her Instagram account just four days after giving birth to her daughter, Nelia:

wag1n-4-web

Sure, I didn’t stuff my engorged milk bombs in to a raspberry push-up bra and pose hand-on-hip for a selfie I’d inevitably share with a quarter of a million people. And my pic tended to look more sleep-deprived than sexy. But I sort-of get where she was coming from.

She’s not saying What’s your excuse? Maria Kang-style. She’s not saying this could be you if you weren’t so goddamn lazy, new mummies.

Is it possible she’s just saying I’m proud of myself and my body!? Or even: holy f***balls, I’ve had a baby AND I feel amazing about myself. Go figure!?

The photo was captioned: “I feel so empty, and still not … 4 days after birth”.

Does that not sound like someone who is coming to grips with the reality of their post-baby identity? After nine months of thinking of herself  ‘me plus one’ is it possible she’s still processing the physical and emotional realities of giving birth?

Eriksen has been slammed for the photo and accused of unfairly placing pressure on new mothers to lose weight immediately after the birth of their babies. She hit back by saying: “I let out the picture because I’m proud of myself and my body for something as tough as a pregnancy/birth, and I think all mothers, regardless of the body shall be.”

Ok, I get that she could’ve been just as proud of her awesome figure in some skinny jeans and tight-fitted knit. And maybe she could’ve thought a bit harder about the impact a perfectly toned post-baby body would have on the bloated, floppy, stretch-marked hordes (who have an equal right to feel proud of their post-baby bodies) because, frankly, about 0.00000001% of all new mothers are that slim and toned just days after birth EVER.

But did anyone think that maybe she is struggling with her post-baby identity just as much as the rest of us mere mortals? Do we really need to tear her down when she’s at her most vulnerable?

When you’re pregnant and you’re renting your body to a complete stranger, people constantly remind you of the damage your unruly tenant will undoubtedly inflict. They’ll wreck your water system, break your windows and shred your wallpaper. You will NEVER. BE. THE. SAME. AGAIN.

The realisation that you have come out of the other side of that, still a version of yourself, is a happy one. Why not celebrate it? Is it such a bad thing to look sexy, if that’s how you feel?

New mums don’t have to apologise for looking tired and dishevelled, or bloated, or glowing, or frazzled. They don’t have to apologise for feeling overjoyed, or emotional, or stressed, or relieved. So why should they apologise for feeling fit or – gasp – even sexy?

For first-time mums those initial weeks are a whirlwind of sleep deprivation, fluctuating hormones, breastfeeding, bodily changes and endless crying (both mother and baby).

Get through it the best way you know how, I say! And hopefully you’ll find the best-loved parts of yourself on the other side. If that includes your post-baby body, great! Just maybe give partial nudity and social media a miss…

What are your thoughts on post-baby body image? Did you struggle with your identity after giving birth? Does Caroline Berg Eriksen deserve the criticism she is receiving? Would you ever reveal your post-baby body on social media? Have you felt pressure to be a different shape/size after birth? 

Advertisements

Comments

  1. Hell, yeah I took a post baby hot body photo of myself! No, I didn’t show anyone, but I felt like it was important. I’d chronicled every month of my bump growing and it seemed like a natural progression from that- it’s in her baby album. I felt sad when, around this time, the whole “what’s your excuse?” Thing happened, so I also re-enacted that photo. My excuse? Well, my “excuse” (if you can call it that), is that, while far from magazine perfect, my body is a miraculous life source for three tiny humans. And I want them all to know that regardless of social expectations and norms, all post-baby bodies are awesome. And to never be ashamed of their bodies. 🙂 so that’s that! I’ll dig up my pic for you, and heck, even post it on social media x
    Ps you do look great!

    Like

    • Wow, Bronwyn, you looked fabulous!
      You have every right to be proud of what your body has achieved… and if it still looks amazing after three kids (which it clearly does) you have a right to feel proud about that too. Post-baby body shaming is crappy no matter what body shape it’s aimed at.

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me! And I think it’s great that you’ve chosen to share that with your daughter too.

      Ps. I’m really glad to see it doesn’t all go to hell after your third baby! (I’ve always wondered if I’d be pushing my luck trying for a third)

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: