- Women's Health
Post-pregnancy bodies - learning to love the skin you're in!
If you have given birth to a baby recently (or some time ago) you will, no doubt, spend some time thinking about and noticing the changes in your appearance. This starts when you are in early pregnancy and, in my experience, lasts many months after the baby is born! This is an important experience to consider and live through...but it can also be damn hard!
When you're pregnant, despite the lack of sleep and perhaps feeling sick, you do tend to look great. Often your skin glows, your hair becomes thicker (as it doesn't fall out during pregnancy) and your tummy grows large and taut. Even if there are times when you don't think you look good pregnant, it is nothing in comparison to how you look and feel afterwards!
You are seriously sleep deprived; catching a shower and washing your hair is something that comes way down the list; your pre-pregnancy clothes do not all fit (unless like celebrities, you have a team of people working on this - and BTW do you know some of them have C-sections early so that they don't grow the last few inches!!!) and even the ones that do fit in some places and not others (this was the MOST annoying part); your hair falls out a lot; you cannot keep up your daily exercise routine; you cannot keep up your daily cleansing and moisturising routine (I can't even remember mine!); your tummy wobbles; your thighs and bottom have got bigger; your boobs are either trying to stop making milk if you have decided on bottles, or are being sucked for between and hour and two hours a day; you often have sick and dribble on your clothes; and you have about 5mins a day to do something about all of this!
Please let me say right away that I LOVE being a mummy and am delighted and intrigued by my little girl. I love her more than words can say and feel I have found the purpose in my life.
HOWEVER...I sometimes like to feel a little better, and have tried a few things that I wanted to share.
If this sounds crazy, wait til you try it. Buy some nice cream (something that you can afford but that smells really good and is a little bit of a treat) and find a moment when your baby is asleep. Take a few minutes to massage your legs or arms, hands or feet, tummy or bottom. It is a fabulous feeling to just give yourself a gentle touch. Often our bodies become very functional as mothers and we think about them in terms of what they have to do in a day. Taking the time to touch yourself kindly and carefully can help you feel very differently about yourself and can help you to appreciate what your body has done and achieved rather than focusing on what it hasn't done...or won't do!
Make sure that you have decent and properly fitted underwear and this needn't look like an industrial piece of equipment. There are some fantastic designers and although it might cost more, I think it is worth spending a little bit on something that will feel great and do the job. Much of the information about stretch marks suggests that having well-fitting underwear can help and it also makes a difference in the long run - if your boobs are going to be bigger and heavier for a good few months it stands to reason that gravity will do it's best to drag them down...buy great underwear and wage war on gravity!
Dressing for a bigger bust
I am someone who has always had big boobs (and hated it) but thought that I might share some of the things that I have learnt along the way with others who may be experiencing this for the first time!
- Wear collars, even if the first button is low down.
- Invest in beautiful scarves and wear them draped around your sholders or wrapped once around your neck.
- Use layers.
- Avoid round necked items - especially low-cut ones.
- Don't buy tops that are not tapered as they will just hang off your breasts and make it look like you are still pregnant.
- Accentuate your waist (yes you do have one) with belts or ties.
- Don't be afraid of lycra or fitted items.
- Wear longer sleeves - somehow this draws the eye down.
- Avoid horizontal stripes.
- Avoid big dots.
I love Isabella Oliver and buy what I can afford on ebay and in the sales - it's beautiful and simple.
Do allow yourself to have a decnet haircut. Your hair will change in volume and texture after you give birth and my haridresser recommended a shorter cut which brought back the bounce and fullness quickly as the length was not pulling it down.
Talk to your haridresser and dicuss it with them. Prepare yourself for your hair to change and this might mean that it would be a lovely treat to have a new shampoo or conditioner to boost the volume and feed your hair. It might also be just the time to experiment with a little colour or have something done that you have fancied for a while...go on treat yourself!
Don't worry about it falling out and then growing back in little tufts - annoying yes, but there's nothing you can do about it.
Eat well...as often as you can.
Whether you are feeding your baby yourself or are using formula, you are still the main carer and providing everything else. Keeping your engines running is essential. I spent the first few months remembering lunch at about 3pm! Don't worry about the time, but when you do get a moment feed yourself well. Make sure that when you shop you think about what you would like to eat, and if there are little treats that you can afford - have them, you deserve it.
You might find that your tastes change a little - experiment and celebrate this. I didn't really like chocolate before, but I luuuuurve it now.
If you are breastfeeding make sure that you drink enough dairy. I can highly recommend lassi's, all beautiful and frothy and drunk with a straw!
An easy recipe is below:
- 4 large tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
- milk to cover the yoghurt in a tall beaker
- maple syrup to taste
Just add the milk to the yoghurt and then mix with an electric whisk until really frothy (it will double in size if you give it a little while) and then add the maple syrup until it tastes yummy!
Think yourself beautiful...
Early on when my daughter was born I went to a class for new mothers. We covered all topics over 8 weeks and got to know each other quite well. In the last class we were talking freely about ourselves and how we felt. One of the youngest women was talking about how she felt she was less attractive and how she hated her saggy tummy. She said that if she had known how her body would have changed she would not have felt so bad about it before, in fact she said she would have hoovered in a bikini!
I think we often give ourselves a hard time as women about the way we look and criticise ourselves and push ourselves to be different. When I listened to her saying what she said I wondered if I would say that about myself now, in 30 or 40 years time (if I am lucky enough to live that long). I guess we might always have more of what we want, but we are also all luckier/lighter/thinner etc than someone else and if we could only see ourselves with different eyes we might be a lot kinder to ourselves. I would love to see me through my partener's eyes...
I hope this helps you to think about what you might try or what might be just the thing for you...warm wishes and lots of love x