I've been working with new and not so new mums for three years now and so often I meet ladies who are almost afraid to look at their tummies or touch them, and also they try to constantly suck it in to make it appear smaller. This makes me so sad!!! A lot of my clients tell me that their husbands or family members have commented on their weight or belly shape which made them feel insecure and unattractive. Which is really not fair.
I know we get bombarded from everywhere on social media with what the “perfect” body image looks like.... skinny with not even a tiny bit of extra skin and of course you can’t have any dents from a bra or underwear line - but guess what???
A lot of the images we see on social media are photoshopped (even from models who never had babies) and 99% of women just don't look like this. EVER. But still it's in most people's head that a women has to have a flat belly.
There are a lot of so called “mummy experts” on Instagram who work out in crop tops. This really makes me wonder, “what are your motives???” Why don’t you put clothes on to exercise??
I don’t think it’s very motivating for most mums to see someone who is super ripped work out in a bra. Those girls are fit and have my respect but unfortunately they also make a lot of mums feel worse about themselves.
However, I do understand we want to feel comfortable in our own skin and that being a mum can make us feel even more insecure. So we look at ways to lose fat, especially around the middle area.
Mums do a lot, from diets to high impact exercise classes, to constantly sucking in their bellies. Just to try to fit into that "ideal" picture.
A lot of my clients have big issues releasing their belly muscles, because they have been sucking in their bellies for years. It's like we are made to feel like we aren't allowed to have bellies, as if we have to hide our middle part. We aren't allowed to show we had a baby and we are also not allowed to talk about the issues we might have with our core and pelvic floor after carrying a baby and giving birth.
But this constantly sucking in of your belly influences your breath and this can influence your pelvic floor, your core strength, and can also increase anxiety.
I wish more women would start loving themselves. To really try to understand what miracles their own bodies went through to house a growing baby, to carry the extra weight of another human. This has impacted your body a lot and we, as mums, need to be more patient and content with ourselves and more compassionate with each other.
The first couple of months, or even the whole first year after having a baby, shouldn't at all be about losing weight. There is not such a thing as just popping back into pre-pregnancy bodies. Even for those ladies who might, soon after birth, look like they never had a baby - there are a lot of changes on the inside and every mum’s core and pelvic floor will have to recover!!! And that will take time.
While I am all for making healthy lifestyle changes and taking action to rehabilitate a mums core after giving birth, I want to encourage every mum to start by loving her own body and being nice to it. It is so important to have realistic goals, realistic pictures in our head of what it might look like to be back in shape and how that fits into every day life. Those girls on Instagram looks amazing - BUT that’s their job, that’s what they do all day long. And they know exactly which angle makes them look extra skinny, when to take pictures so they don’t look bloated and I promise you, even they have days where they look less glamorous.
What can we do to be kinder to ourselves?
- Try to start loving your body and appreciating what our bodies went through
- Don't comment on a mums body shape
- Start drinking enough water and eat nutritious food
- Stop doing diets that promise a quick fix and that you cannot keep up for the rest of your life. Instead make healthy diet changes for life.
- Practice some slow breathing and allow yourself time to relax
- Start an exercise regime with a specialized postnatal trainer who understands what your body really needs to recover (high impact and straining exercises are NOT the answer)
- Unfollow all those unrealistic/ perfect instagram people and follow REAL people, with REAL looking bellies
I want to challenge you to start accepting your own body. And we should start to fill social media with real pictures. Show all those mums and dads out there what is real and realistic.
So help me to fill social media with pictures of real bellies. Draw a smiley on your belly with lipstick and post it on social media, using the hashtags:
Hugs to all you mums out there,
Women's Health Coach