Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Postpartum Bump - The Reality Is, It Exists

On Tuesday evening I sat whilst my two girls played and watched the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge emerge from St Mary’s Hospital in London with their new bundle of joy. What a beautiful moment that was. And how real it was too. Love them or hate them, one thing the younger Royal members have done is to normalise the Royal family. Prince William and Kate Middleton appeared that day like any other couple who had just had their world rocked by the amazing edition of a small person. Despite appearances you could see that Kate was a little anxious whilst on parade in front of the world’s press. She looked glowing but tired. The eyes cannot lie and hers were filled with joy, tiredness, anxiety, emotion. Behind that smile and calm appearance was a new Mum with her own unique mix of emotions.

She looked amazing. How she walked out in those heels I do not know. I remember feeling as if my insides were about to drop out for a good week after giving birth for the first time. And then came the twitter comments about her postpartum bump and why was it still there. Hello! She’s just given birth to a baby people! I couldn't quite believe the ignorance of those people and it got me thinking about what we really know before we have children of our own.

Image courtesy of  www.bbc.co.uk
Many of us come from a generation whose parents didn't discuss this sort of thing openly. If you were in the “club” you knew what to expect. If you weren't you were given minimal facts to make sure you were semi prepared for the event, but the actual gory details were kept from you. Why? What purpose does this really serve? What happens is that we bring up generations of ignorant people who don’t realise that it is perfectly normal for a small bump to remain for weeks even months after we have given birth. We have after all taken 9 months to grow a baby; it’s rare that the body just “pings” back into its pre-pregnancy state.

The pressure to snap back into shape on women postpartum is huge. Take a look at the misguided front cover of OK Magazine that followed the birth announcement and you will see the kind of world we now live in. What kind of message are we sending to our children, particularly our daughters? We have the lowest figures ever of new Mums breastfeeding, natural birth without intervention is becoming less common and it appears we are moving away from what’s “normal” into worrying territory.

We need to be honest about what pregnancy and birth are really all about. Let’s stop dishing out the fairy stories about storks delivering babies. You can simplify information for young children to understand that can still remain factually correct. Maybe then the comments that were thrown at Kate Middleton about her postpartum bump that day wouldn't have happened because it would be common knowledge to the masses not the minority.

When I went to my eldest daughter’s parent’s consultation last Autumn I was overjoyed to see that when she had been asked to draw a picture of herself as a baby she drew one of her being breastfed! Hallelujah! Not a bottle in sight. Now before you all sharpen your daggers thinking I’m attacking those who bottle feed, I’m not. But what I am pointing out here is that this type of thing is rare. Advertising never shows a breastfeeding Mum, we don’t have baby dolls who are breastfed, they have bottles, and when a breastfeeding doll did come on to the market for kids (which I remember seeing via Facebook), there was an outcry of “it’s weird, not normal”. In my mind that’s all upside down and back to front. We need to lose the embarrassment factor and bring our children up knowing the facts not the fairy stories.

I truly hope that we are now a generation of parents who WILL tell our children how it really is. We need to swallow back our embarrassment and empower our children to know the facts about things like pregnancy and childbirth. I know that I was shocked when I saw my postpartum body. I was mortified to see that my belly didn't retreat from whence it came. Naive perhaps, but there were quite a few things that both my own mother and the midwives didn't discuss before my baby arrived.

Let’s take that veil down. I applaud Kate Middleton for not hiding her postpartum body. I have immense respect for her. It wouldn't have been easy to come out to the scrutiny of the world’s press at such a vulnerable time in her life and she chose a dress that showed her remaining bump. Perhaps that was her aim. Perhaps she IS that new generation who will change the face of this distorted world we live in. The world is watching her, poor woman. I just hope that she is afforded the time to bond with her baby and is able to embrace whatever feels right for her as a new Mum.

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I have read a few blog posts in recent days from fellow Mum bloggers who have shared pictures of themselves having just given birth whether that is the day itself or a few days after and I think this is a great way to raise awareness about what is normal. We don't all look svelte, made-up and glowing from top to toe. Below I am sharing a few of mine too. Katy Hill tweeted a picture of herself 2 months after her baby was born. What a breath of fresh air this lady is. Total respect for you Katy. We need more celebrities like you raising awareness of what’s real and what’s not. Let’s hope that as women we can start to change the perception out there so that the reaction Kate Middleton’s appearance sparked on Tuesday doesn't happens again.





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14 comments:

  1. I was completely shocked after I gave birth and was left with what looked like a deflated balloon. I think it took about 6 months plus for it to go down and over a year for me to actually lose the weight - I wasn't bothered though, just looking at him and looking after him took most of my time at first. Great post!

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    1. Hi Tas - Thanks for popping by. Yes, I think that our first birth can bring such a mix of emotions about how our bodies have changed. They are truly amazing and I feel we need to embrace our new postpartum bodies and be proud that we have just created the most amazing beings xx

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  2. Did you see this article on the BBC? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23276432 It's called "Are women's bodies still beautiful after pregnancy?" and there are some really great pictures. I felt the question itself was an odd one really (pretty patronising) and falls into the pit of implying 'women should look slim, taut and young', but the article is very positive. I agree totally we need to be a lot more up front about how pregnancy changes us physically as well as emotionally and socially and reject the premise that we are no longer attractive and beautiful!

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    1. Hi Nicola - I initially saw the main image on Facebook. The BBC article is a good one and the pictures are great. It's positive that these sorts of articles are popping up now particularly with the internet at our fingertips. I love reading @MilliHill who writes a blog called The Mule & who founded The Positive Birth Movement. She is a big advocate of women being empowered pre and post birth. I think it's all about empowering women about their new bodies and not hiding the fact that we will be forever changed once we give birth and that this is OK. Thanks for your comments xx

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  3. I wrote a post the day after the 'great unveiling' cos I was so shocked by people#s (in particular the press) reactions - of course you don't get rid of your tummy straight away! Why do people look at that bit anyway? She looked amazing, had just cooked and given birth to the heir to the throne! You also looked amazing....I didn't so much but like to use my c-sections as an excuse! x

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    1. Hello Lovely xx It was your post amongst others that I read and which inspired me to write this one :0) And you look great too by the way. My hubby has ones of me literally after I've given birth and I'm not sure I could have mustered the smile I have in the pictures above which are a day or so after the main event. I was shocked that my tummy didn't disappear quickly and I just hope that the stir over Kate Middleton's postpartum bump will bring a new understanding of what it means to have given birth and what's normal too xx

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  4. excellent post! three years on my body has not quite recovered, kids are doing well though! x

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    1. Hi Jane - Good to hear it ! Not sure my body has fully revoered either. Just read your BF post on the Powder Room. You're a girl after my own heart. My youngest is 2 and a half and still going strong. Lovely to connect with you x

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  5. Great post Charlie, you are so right! But I think it's also about the media portrayal women's bodies in general and the concept of perfection. It needs eradicating along with this issue! x

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    1. Hi Ross xx I agree that the media portrayal has an awful lot to answer for but sadly I think it's going to be up to us as parents to make sure our kids grow up knowing fact from fiction & this may be a challenge in the face of such a false media. Being happy in your own skin is a rarity these days & that contentment in our bodies has to start with ourselves - a steep mountain perhaps? xx

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  6. Great post Charlie!
    I admired her for walking out of hospital like that (and on heels no less), and I admire you for putting up your photos here. You look gorgeous in all of them.
    I guess the more we all talk about it, the more people will be educated and not have unrealistic expectations and distorted views about women and their bodies!
    xx

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    1. Thanks Orly x I so agree with you. Time to stop hiding and actually sharing the reality of it all. Let's be proud of our bodies whether it be post baby or not. It's about time x

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  7. Very well said!
    And you look lovely in your photos!

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