International Women’s Day is coming up this Sunday so we’re going to take a slight departure from the usual focus of our weekly column this week. Instead of talking about how we parent, let’s talk about how we look after ourselves as mothers. Many will remember in 2018 after the birth of Kate Middleton’s baby arrived and she appeared on the steps of the hospital a mere 7 hours after giving birth (with blow dried hair and in heels!). As with many celebrity births the narrative around motherhood turned yet again to ‘having it all’. Gone are the days of having a baby and staying at home to recuperate and bond with your bundle, in your well-stretched maternity leggings. Social media and in particular Instagram – the enemy of self-confidence – have reset the rules. Now you must glow during pregnancy, deliver with a doula and some gentle chanting and be back in your pre-pregnancy jeans before you dare to post a picture of yourself and the baby. It is exhausting!
Niggles and worries are an integral part of pregnancy. Will the baby be ok? What will labour be like? Will I know the difference between baby blues and post-natal depression? Whoever thought ‘will I look ok for visitors’ would become one of those worries? When you deliver a baby, your body does something truly amazing. It is the kind of something that makes a triathlon look like a warm-up exercise. Celebrate that strength and endurance. Instead of trying to beat yourself into pre-pregnancy clothes, celebrate your body for what it has done and who it has just given you.
That awful label ‘yummy mummy’ is equal parts insulting and damaging. For those of us who don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to look picture perfect while feeding a baby and surviving on a torturous amount of sleep, it’s just another stick to beat ourselves with. ‘Slummy mummy’ is even worse, the connotation being that if you aren’t preened and coiffed within an inch of your life, you are surrendering to some Waynetta Slob version of your former self. Every birth and every new parent experience is different. There are no rules or benchmarks as to how you should look. The shell shock of your new routine might make showers less of a daily occurrence for a while and that’s ok. Some mascara and a sweep of lipstick may make you feel better about yourself and that’s ok too. It’s whatever works for you, not what you feel you have to do or how you have to look.
A word of advice for the Dads reading this; there has never been a better time to tell your partner how beautiful she is. You were present at the birth and you saw exactly what she did. A regular reminder of how great she is doing costs you nothing and can mean everything.