It Doesn’t Just Ping Back!
One early morning (as a working parent, getting my social media fix in the cold light of 4am has become the norm) I was flicking through Instagram, when I stopped scrolling. I went back to a post that had caught my tired eyes: a picture of a celebrity (the gorgeous Georgia Jones, to be exact) two weeks postpartum. Yet, this image hadn’t fallen victim to any of Instagram’s delightful filters – only my own quiet disbelief: here, in Georgia’s Instagram post, was a true reflection of a postpartum tummy. It was not an impossibly flat stomach with ZERO stretch marks that I had become accustomed to seeing, but one that could have been easily mistaken for a pregnant stomach. I was so relieved to see it. I saw Georgia later in an interview with Lorraine Kelly defending her Instagram postpartum post: “It doesn’t just ping back!”, Georgia admitted. “You’re not kidding…” I thought. (See Georgia’s interview on Lorainne here.)
Shock Horror! The Reality of the ‘Mummy Tummy’
When I was pregnant, I was practically sedentary because of my size. Swamped with the feeling of carrying a tiny human inside me, I was also swamped with pictures of celebrities who had recently had children. I’d read their experiences: a seemingly straight-forward birth, a remarkably unmarked body post-birth, and each of them blessed with an astonishing freedom to spend ‘quality time’ on themselves. The postpartum stomach I was used to seeing was a tummy that no longer looked like it was about to burst at any second. Clearly, I thought, banishing the ‘mummy tummy’ was achievable straight away – this must be exactly how it happens.
But here was Georgia Jones, proud of her stomach as it still bulged, sharing it with the whole world. I recalled the birth of my child, and remember how I looked down at my own body postpartum. I was in shock; this was not how it was meant to be! My body was a train wreck, a horror to behold. After nine months, how could I still look pregnant? This was not the ideal I had been fed by the media. Yet, looking at my own swollen stomach, I had a reality check: I did not have childcare, I did not go to the gym every morning, I had not been eating healthy salads or drinking nutritious smoothies ‘on-the-go’. I did not have the time; I did not have the energy.
Too Much Information? Sharing the Perfectly Normal Postpartum Experience
My postpartum body was a product of a difficult labour and constant adjustments to caring for a newborn baby. My body received no love and attention from me: my child did. My body had been a home for my baby, and was now a source of their nourishment (even if it was a product of very little sleep!) Of course, I had not just ‘pinged’ back to normal; this was now my normal, and I was proud that I was still adjusting. I realised that my ‘new’ body should be celebrated: it was the vehicle for the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I accepted that I could make changes when I felt okay to do so, changes that were not determined by any magazine or my preconceived expectations. So, here’s to my perfect Instagram post (partum body) – and yours too!
Written by Jill, Nemo Swimming