Body positive and pregnancy. The postpartum race to recovery.

From the moment I discovered I had fallen pregnant right through to the end of pregnancy, I battled with many insecurities. The inevitable weight gain, the swollen feet and wrists, the bloating and the terrible acne. The lot.

I was not one of those women who suited being pregnant – disappointing enough, I never had that whole ‘pregnancy glow’. I was more drained than ever, my skin was dull and covered in acne and my body was slowing down. I lacked sleep and it showed, I couldn’t get more than four solid hours at a time.

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I don’t think there were many days during pregnancy where I felt good.

I chose to document my growing bump through photographs. This distracted myself from the chnages my body was making, especially the weight gain – something I daunted, and allowed myself to learn to embrace the time and not to feel so low about my self image. I was growing a life inside, what is more precious than that?

The images I have taken throughout my pregnancy will remain close to me forever, it soon became a little hobbie. The weekly ‘bumpdate’. Toward the end of the third trimester, growing close to my due date, I finally began to love my bump and appreciate my body for all of the work it was doing. The body really is amazing and a little TLC really pays off.

I had days where I was very upset looking at my reflection, my body didn’t seem like it belonged to me anymore. I was more just a machine made to carry a life and I had no control over my ever changing body nor the weight gain. Looking back, it was silly and I only wish I treated myself a bit better during my pregnancy, I should have ate that doughnut, I should have enjoyed take away. Rather, I chose to survive on a diet that was mainly fruit and fiber based with plenty of yogurt for calcium and a lot of raw vegetables and vitamins.

I would cook meals for Euan and sit at the dinner table for our evening meal with a bowl of fruit and yogurt – the same meal I would eat for breakfast and lunch almost every day. I didn’t like to eat out as that meant stepping away from my comfort zone. If I was feeling real adventurous, I would have a sandwich, providing it was marked “Low Cal”. Not quite the solid  healthy diet required for growing a life.

I feel shameful and I do wonder, had my eating habits and concerns over my weight not been so drastic, would my baby have stopped growing at week 34 and have been classed in the fifth percentile, smaller than average and forced to arrive early over fears of her growth? I will never know for sure, but I feel guilty that I didn’t allow the life inside to thrive to her full potential due to my own selfish ego.

I am currently exclusively breastfeeding and my daughter is thriving, she feeds well and within five days she was back up to her birth weight! The midwife claimed that this was amazing. High five, go me!

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It brings me great pleasure to know that am providing my baby with the nourishment she requires and grows from. The sleepless nights, are all made worthwhile, knowing that they are paying off and  that I am solemnly providing for my daughter Something which I am both delighted and proud of. I have no fears or concerns over her health and I am sure that I have a healthy baby who is most definitely loved.

 

Now that I am no longer pregnant, my beautiful baby girl is in the world, happy and healthy, I can begin to work on my body image again and get back to a place that I am happy with at a pace I can safely manage and maintain. Since the birth of Eleanor, my skin has almost fully cleared up – something which I am delighted with as this had bothered me a lot. So much so that I would spend some time looking at my reflection and crying. It is silly, I know.

I now have to be a role model for my baby girl and have to ensure that she picks up healthy eating habits and a good self esteem. I would hate for her to think that she is simply not good enough or meeting unrealistic expectations in any way, shape or form.

I am certain my baby is well, her feeding is coming along great and she is growing and changing by the day. I can’t wait to grow with her. I think that having my baby, has made me realize that it is not about looking good. Sure, it is great to feel good about yourself but I shouldn’t have to set unrealistic goals or undertake a crash diet to meet the needs of my ego or the expectations and pressures that new mum’s face when losing baby weight.

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I am going to take my weight loss by the day. Slowly but surely and some day I will reach a goal that I am happy with. I am in no rush to jump back into shape, I have a baby to care for and that means I must care for myself now too. I cannot be selfish anymore, I must become a healthy role model. It will take some time, I won’t be happy overnight but I will get there and I will teach my daughter to love herself, to be strong and wise and to have a good self esteem.

 

(39 weeks + 3 vs 5 days post partum –  I got this)

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