Bumps, Babies and Bodies

3 Oct


I bet you remember this picture.

It was the cover of Vanity Fair in August 1991.  Taken by Annie Leibovitz when Moore was 7 months pregnant, it was controversial and ground breaking in changing how we saw pregnant women.

Suddenly, bumps were beautiful.  Gone were the billowing clothes which shrouded women’s ever expanding tummies.  Moore’s photo inspired many other celebrities to pose for copycat pictures and women everywhere embraced the trend.

I was recently pregnant with my first baby and I loved wearing clothes that showed off my bump.  I was proud of my growing tummy, especially after spending the first 15 to 20 weeks just looking like I’d eaten too many pies.  I had a good idea of what changes to expect during pregnancy.  Even when my feet became big, fat trotters and I got cankles in the last few weeks of pregnancy, it wasn’t a huge surprise.

Me at 7 months pregnant - before the cankles

Me at 7 months pregnant – before the cankles

Here’s what I was completely unprepared for – my after pregnancy body.

I’ve seen before and during pregnancy pictures everywhere, but the only post pregnancy bodies I’ve seen are of celebrities once they’ve pinged back into shape.

So how my body looked after giving birth was a real shock for me.  I wasn’t naïve enough to think I’d have a flat tummy and fit back into my favourite jeans for my trip home.  But what I hadn’t expected was how different I would still look.

First of all my tummy still looked like I was 7 months pregnant but unlike the firm bump I had fallen in love with, it was wobbly and jelly like.  I still had a dark line down my tummy (a linea negra is the official term) and my belly button was still an outy.  My legs were swollen from water retention as were my feet and they stayed that way for a good ten days afterwards.  Brief sunbathing spells in the garden had left my overstretched tummy a darker shade than the rest of my body.

And this was a natural birth.  Women who have C-sections have a scar to deal with in addition to everything else.  I was also lucky not to get any stretch marks and am not sure if this was down to genetics or my religious use of bio-oil.

Now 8 weeks later I’m starting to feel more myself.  My stomach is still not quite flat but has gone down loads, the dark line is slowly fading and my inny is back!  I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to how I was before pregnancy but a few workout sessions and I think I’ll be happy with how I look.

What I wonder is, if there had been images in the media and around me of post pregnant bodies, would I have looked at my body in a more positive light?  And why am I even thinking about my body shape less than two months after having my daughter?

The celebrity obsession with slimming down after having a baby certainly doesn’t help.

Beyonce, Gisele and Miranda Kerr to name a few have all been pictured strutting around with their washboard stomachs mere weeks after giving birth. Beyonce was even accused of faking her pregnancy by using a surrogate because she looked so amazing just a couple of months after having her baby.

Most recently Kate Middleton’s body has been scrutinised and commented on for how quickly she has gone back to her slim self.  Those who do have stretch marks, slightly flabby bits or any other humanly normal changes, have the help of airbrushing to achieve the perfect body.

Model Gisele just two months after having her daughter

The most frustrating part is that unless you’re one of the very few blessed with amazing genes or incredibly good luck, it’s just not an achievable goal to get back into shape so quickly.  Partly because most women will never have access to the team of nutritionists, personal trainers, etc. that these celebrities do.  And partly because you’ve just put your body through the massive ordeal of carrying and giving birth to a baby!  That’s what we should be focusing on.

Ashlee Wells Jackson is one of the women helping to make this happen.  Her 4th trimester project shows pictures of women’s bodies after birth, posing with and without their babies.  The images are striking and beautifully done with each photo accompanied by a background story.  Part of Ashlee’s inspiration for the project was to combat the celebrity driven pressure to bounce back into shape just a few weeks after having a baby.

A photo from Jackson's 4th Trimester project

A photo from Jackson’s 4th Trimester project

And it seems to be the Americans who are leading the way in busting these myths.  Jade Beall, an Arizona based photographer, took photos of herself with her five week old baby and put them on her blog.  She has now photographed over 70 women and their post pregnant bodies.  Beall herself has posed with her three sons and explains how she wanted them to know what their future wives would look like after having a baby.

One of Jade Beall's shots

One of Jade Beall’s shots

Unusually, she also asks fathers for their views.  One husband explains how the photos made him realise the beauty of the scars his wife carries from pregnancy.  It may not be the best choice of word but I get his point.  Scars are often seen as beautiful or even sexy because they tell a story.  It’s a real shame we haven’t got there yet with pregnancy scars.  Because isn’t the birth of a baby the most natural and impressive story of all?

While I was pregnant, we called our baby Pip because I read in the early stages that she was the size of an apple pip.  She’s now a beautiful, well-loved and healthy baby who weighs around 10 pounds, gives us gummy grins every morning and miaows like a cat when we talk to her.  That is pretty damn amazing.

Happy baby

From apple pip to happy baby

Just remember it took 9 months to get your pregnancy body.  So forget about the latest celeb to step out in her skinnies a week after having a baby, and give yourself at least 9 months to get back a body you’re happy with.  And in the meantime, enjoy your beautiful new baby!


Me and my beautiful girl


One Response to “Bumps, Babies and Bodies”

  1. Ankie October 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    I can imagine seeing me and all the celebs with our fit post-preggo bods was hard… wait, is that chuckling I can hear in the background? Seriously though Rog, very well put. Post-pregnancy bodies are beautiful simply because of the miracle they were able to produce. I have stretch marks on my tummy now (although they weren’t visible when I was pregnant, those sneaky, sneaky things) and it’s taken me a while but I wear them as a symbol of my love for Junaid and my pride at creating a safe home for him. I think from the time couples try to conceive well into when they raise their children, they need to be more honest about themselves. Life’s journeys can be difficult at times but perhaps if we stopped trying to make each and every detail rosy and flawless we’d be more willing to embrace every aspect of them. ps I think you look lovely =)

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