The day after giving birth to my first son, while I was still in hospital, I still remembering leaving him sleeping in his bassinet to sneak away to the bathroom and inspect my swollen postpartum body. I was already trying to think of an action plan to lose the ‘baby weight’.
I know the way I felt is the same way many women do, based on the number of posts I've seen in Facebook mums groups about the best ways to lose baby weight. Other mums who respond suggest different quick fix diets, weight loss plans, diet pills, hormone therapy, intermittent fasting and cosmetic surgery that was medically unnecessary. There were very few comments about the concept of getting stronger first, both physically and mentally.
My son is now nearly 4, and I'm so glad that I didn't try to to find a quick fix method of getting back to my pre-baby body. Instead, I took a long game approach. I consulted with a physiotherapist and GP to strengthen my pelvic floor and core. Once that was strong enough, I began slowly exercising. Walking with the pram and Pilates were enough to start with. Then slowly building up to running, lifting weights and boot camp. I took the same approach after having my second baby who is almost 1.
My body isn't perfect but it is strong. My diet is not perfect but it is healthy and sustainable. I haven't let the very unrealistic concept of a svelte, activewear-clad "yummy mummy" be the standard I measure myself by.
So I want to say to all the mums who want to lose weight, you will get there, but you shouldn't feel embarrassed until you do. Even the seemingly super fit mums must have days with unwashed hair and pimples. Being skinny is not the same as being healthy.
Your child doesn’t care that your arms are a bit wobbly. They only care that those arms cuddle them when they are sad.
Your child doesn’t care that your stomach is squishy. They love to blow raspberries on it, and squishy makes a better sound.
Your child doesn’t care that your hair is constantly messy, especially if it's caused by the time spent chasing after them at the park.
Your child doesn’t care that your legs aren't tanned or if they're hairy. They love to climb them, and bury their face in those thighs when they are feeling shy.
Your child doesn’t care that your hands haven’t seen a manicure for a while. To them, they are the hands that prepare their dinner, stroke their face and propel them squealing with joy into the air.
Your child doesn’t care that the only makeup you wear these days is sunscreen. They love your face as it is, familiar, safe and dear to them.
Your child doesn’t care that your clothes are a bit daggy and simple. They are play clothes, perfect to take them on adventures.
Your child doesn’t care that your boobs are no longer perky. To them they have provided a stream of comfort and nourishment.
Your child doesn’t care that you have stretch marks, cellulite and varicose veins. They don't even notice them. They only notice that you are always there for them when they need you.
Your child doesn’t care about any of your self-perceived imperfections. They love you exactly as you are, because you are their number one person. Your perfectly imperfect body is the one that created them, and you should love it too.
If you feel like you are struggling and need help, please contact PANDA on 1300 726 306