During and after pregnancy: The body aftermath When I found out I was pregnant I bought myself a few bottles of the Palmers cocoa butter to lather up with, but I started to get sick of the smell. Once they were "finished I moved on to any moisturiser that was on offer. After a few internet searches, I concluded that they all did the same thing and it didn’t matter what you used because none of them were actually scientifically proven to prevent stretch marks.I didn’t get any stretch marks until the seven-month mark, by which point I was almost certain that I’d dodged a bullet. I distinctly remember the day I first saw them. I was admiring my ever-growing bump in the mirror and as I turned to the side, there they were. Red and angry. They were just at the top of my hips, which seemed to have gotten pretty damn wide.I probably over reacted but I’ve always been self-conscious of my weight, ever since I was a child actually. So, I did what any overly hormonal pregnant woman would do and blasted out some music while I took a hot shower and had a good old cry to myself. The moment was tragically ruined when my manager rang me asking me to go in early (I obviously didn’t pick up at the time though) and as the sound of my generic ringtone filled the bathroom through my Bluetooth speaker I realised I was just being stupid…Anyway, the stretch marks kept multiplying and soon I couldn’t tell if they were new or if they’d already been there and I stopped worrying about them and more about labour. I gained a lot of weight in my pregnancy too, about two stone. It piled on my stomach, hips and thighs where I also got stretch marks, but from the weight gain rather than pregnancy. I must admit that despite feeling sorry for myself I had used pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever the hell I liked. That included a lot of super noodles, Dr Pepper and takeaways- especially when I’d been on a late shift at work!In hindsight, I now realise that it was the wrong thing to do and if I ever have another baby I’d stick to a healthy diet to save me the stress of the added weight after.I think one of the toughest things to accept about pregnancy is the way your body changes and the effects it has on you physically as well as mentally. One thing that helped me to get through it was talking openly about it. I felt bad moaning to my friends and family- especially my partner, but their reassurance really helped.They remind you that you must give yourself time and that what you’re going through is perfectly normal. I tried to stick to a general rule that every 'me I had a negative thought about myself I had to think what would my best friend say if she heard me say that. It sounds silly but it really helped me get through some blue periods.Afer my caesarean, the surgeon said I was lucky to have such a flat stomach and I remember laying on the hospital bed just pressing on my numb tummy. It felt flat and watery like a water bed. I felt as if I’d been deflated and I was so relieved to have my body back and to feel in control of it again.I wish I’d felt the same elation when I got home and looked in the mirror for the "first time!I was miserable but I kept telling myself that I’d just had a baby and I accepted that I needed to heal. After all, what my body had just done was amazing!
After the "first few weeks I realised that I needed to view my body in a positive way if I really wanted to make a change, so I decided to think of it as an exciting project! I would envision how I wanted to look and how I’d feel when I’d lost the baby weight. I motivated myself with old pictures of my body and started to plan how I was going to make the change! It really helped to keep me on track.It wasn’t until I went to a friend’s house when she recommended Slimming World to me, so when Hayden turned 5 weeks old I joined, weighing 12.9 stone. I now weigh 10.3 stone and my target weight is 9.7. (I’ll do a separate post on slimming world and how it works if it’s of interest.)I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and I’m thrilled with how I look, but I started early after having Hayden and that was my own choice. I know a lot of people who start later and you just need to do it when you feel ready, regardless of what anyone says or thinks (including you!). Stay focussed and you’ll achieve your goal, have a day off if you need it- heck, have a glass of wine! No one fully appreciates or understand what you go through day in, day out with a baby (as much as we love them), it’s bloody hard!So, give yourself a break and be proud of yourself, be proud of every mark and every wobbly bit and have faith in yourself knowing that one day- when you feel ready, you’ll get to where you want to be.
-Nikita, The Caffeinated Mummy xxP