Never forget: YOU MADE A HUMAN. Of course you don’t look exactly the same as you did when you were 15, it would be weird if you did. Plus you wore that awful shimmery eyeshadow then too, remember? But everyone feels insecure about their bodies after popping a baby out – and it doesn’t help when we’re bombarded with images of celebrities in bikinis while the umbilical cord’s practically still attached. So, what can we do to make it easier?
The insecurity: your mum tum
Ah, the dreaded mum tum. There’s no avoiding it. OK, so some new mums “ping back” pretty quickly – particularly if you were well fit to start with – but for most of us, it’s a bit of a battle. First up, give yourself a break. You’re in the middle of a huge transition, and this isn’t the time for crash diets or boot camps. But, if you think that getting active will make you feel better and you’ve been given the post-natal all-clear, there are loads of opportunities for new mums to do this with babies in tow – buggy walks, mum and baby yoga and pilates, dance classes where you can flail around with your baby in a sling… and they’re all a great chance to get out and meet people too. If you’re more of a solo exerciser, consider investing in a running buggy (there are always tons available secondhand, and they’re often in pretty slick condition since they don’t get used very often… babies have a funny way of interfering with exercise routines…) and set yourself free! And even if the mum tum is stubborn to shift, those mysterious endorphins will make you feel better about everything.
The insecurity: you don’t know what to wear
It doesn’t get talked about that much, but lots of new mums go through a huge style crisis. The old you probably had a certain look, a look that might well feel unsuitable now you’re a mum – whether it’s because the pencil skirts and heels you used to rock in the office on a daily basis simply aren’t practical when you’re rifling through a changing bag for a missing dummy, or because you suddenly feel “too old” to be wear head to toe TopShop (which, by the way, is nonsense – you look fahbulous). Plus, you’ve been in maternity gear for the past few months, so you can’t even remember what kind of clothes you actually like anymore. We’d recommend heading to a clothes swap (or even organising one yourself if you’re so inclined) to get new gear – or just new ideas – without spending money. Or, if you really want a whole new look, beg for shopping vouchers for your birthday or Christmas and then throw them at a personal shopper. Yeah, it sounds like something your mum might do but YOU’RE A MUM NOW TOO.
The insecurity: you don’t recognise your boobs anymore
A lot of people think it’s breastfeeding that defaces your boobs, but actually most of the damage is done in pregnancy – sorry about that. It’s a sad fact of life that boobs go south as we get older, and, unless you bite the bullet and get surgery, there’s very little you can do about it. Getting fitted – properly – for a new bra will help, as will – bear with us, this might sound a bit weird – looking online at photos of “real” boobs since the variety is far more diverse than we see in mainstream media. Also, pay attention to your partner – chances are they still think your boobs are proper lush.
The insecurity: your, y’know, bits
Even the smoothest of births can make you feel funny about your fanny for months or even years afterwards. And even mums who’ve had c-sections still suffer with their pelvic floors since, once again, it’s pregnancy that does a lot of the damage. We all know we’re supposed to do pelvic floor exercises, but actually remembering is another matter, especially when we’re so blimmin’ busy all the time. There are, naturally, reminder apps for this though, so get one! Also, just give it time and don’t put yourself under pressure to get back on the horse – you know, the one who got you into this mess in the first place – before you’re ready.
The insecurity: your war wounds
Whether it’s a c-section scar or stretch marks where there used to be smooth, taut skin, you might feel super-conscious of your body, even if the mum tum has deflated (lucky you). As ever, YOU BIRTHED A HUMAN, but also, if you happen to be at the beach (again, lucky you!) look around you: apart from the 19 year olds frolicking around feigning an interest in volleyball, the majority of women have evidence of babies about their bodies. You’ll get your confidence back soon enough and barely notice the “damage” – but until then, high-waisted bikinis flatter everyone and will cover up the bits you’re most conscious of.
The insecurity: all of the above
If your self-esteem has really hit rock bottom, and you hate what you see in the mirror, you should talk to someone. If your partner doesn’t get it, your mum mates will – chances are they’re going through a lot of the same feelings too, even if it’s not as intensely as you. But consider talking to your doctor too; feeling super low about your appearance can be a big part of depression and anxiety. The more you talk about it and tackle it, the sooner you’ll be feeling like your old self again.