I think if any new mum is being honest, they will tell you that it’s not how they had imagined it would be. There’s so much pressure throughout pregnancy and as a new mum on all manner of things – how you look; how you are with your baby; how you feed your baby; how you are coping … it’s no wonder that so many women struggle. And even though you have spent 9 months mentally, physically (and financially) adjusting to what’s ahead, nothing can really prepare you for this massive shift in your life.
You’re a mum but you’re still you. You still worry about the same stuff (even though you tell yourself it’s not important) – you worry about what to wear and what you look like. You remember your past social life and wonder what your life will be like now… will you have any friends?! Will your pre-mum friends keep in touch? Will you make new friends? Your mind goes wild and so do your hormones.
One of the things I’ve struggled with is how I look. People often comment (with best intentions) that I’m looking well or ask how much baby weight I’ve lost – but to me it just feels like i am being assessed at each turn. Bearing in mind at the beginning you’re surviving from one day to the next and with no sleep… no-one is ever going to thrive in that situation.
I suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) in my pregnancy, and I will admit I am not good with being sick at the best of times but this was out of this world. I had wanted to be pregnant for so long and from 5weeks I was sick all day, every day and lost roughly a stone by the time I was 12weeks pregnant (even with the baby weight I’d gained).
I longed for that baby bump and to feel glowing but the sickness continued for months and the daily dizzy spells and headaches only stopped after I had given birth. I felt pressured to be taking care of myself and still exercise and be active but I could barely leave the house. Every time I left it felt like I was in military training just trying to make it to the bus stop. When it got really bad, I also had vertigo so all this meant I had to be baby sat. My mum, hubby and best friends basically kept me going during these times, preparing whatever food I fancied and looking after me when I was sick. I said to myself that when I had had Rishi I would get back into fitness. I saw all these amazing pictures of women with a bump at 39 weeks and looking incredible by 6 weeks post partum. News flash… it didn’t happen. I still remember “that” photo of the Duchess of Cambridge after the birth of Prince George and everyone being shocked about the baby bump. Now I’ve had a baby, I’m not shocked at that. I’m shocked that she walked up to the steps in heels and tights and looked like she did. I don’t care if she had an army of make-up artists and hairdressers … that was impressive. I think it took me 30minutes to walk to the front of the hospital… and I could barely sit down! The tabloids pick on mums who have or haven’t got into shape after birth and they face scrutiny for how they look – either way! They can’t win!
While my HG meant that I had gained less weight (ooh a positive) than I probably would have, my body shape had very naturally, completely changed. My breasts are huge (and not in a good way) and I have a mum-tum. My body put a stop to that exercise for a while, and I accepted that a walk to the high street was an achievement. One week the same PT approached me twice, on said high street, to ask whether I wanted help getting back into shape… Er thanks, but I can barely push the pram.
A few months on and I’m now mixing things up with buggy fitness, pram walks and baby yoga. The trainers are great and so supportive. I go to special mum and baby classes and I know it’s essential to get someone who knows what they are doing and can train you safely when your body has been through pregnancy and birth! I do like the classes but I don’t go if I don’t feel up to them. You’ll have days when you have been up the whole night and are shattered and you can’t think of anything you’d like to do less but I am trying to push myself to go to them, and now it’s not because I need that postpartum selfie with a flat tummy but it’s because it’s something for me, it’s a bit of tender loving self care and it’s only now that I’m realising how important it is to do it for ME. I go to all my classes with a friend and that’s really nice aswell – you get a bit of adult conversation and someone to spur you on to go… and someone to eat cake with afterwards 😉
All I would say is I find there’s so much pressure in our culture and from social media to look and be a certain way, that I keep trying to remind myself that if I put myself under too much pressure it will be even worse for me and as a consequence, Rishi. I’m doing the best I can to look after myself and to look after my little boy and I just want to say to all the other new mums out there – don’t panic if your little one isn’t sleeping like the other babies, don’t panic if you haven’t made it for a night out on your own, don’t panic if your baby is the baby that cries in classes or sleeps through them, try to take a breath and relax. But be honest and talk about it. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, it’s worse to keep any of these feelings bottled up. And it sounds simple, but be nice to other mums. Now when I see a new mum with a tiny baby at a class I chat to them and tell them well done – they have made it out the house and that is a challenge in itself, so well done you!