Pregnant public property
Why is it when you’re pregnant or have had a baby people seem to think they can make extremely personal comments to you? I spent the last 3 months of my pregnancy fielding comments like
“are you sure there’s only one in there” or even one of my favourites “wow you are absolutely enormous”
which is enough to strike anxiety and doubt into even the most confident of women.
This week I was walking down the canal pushing my pram in the sun and a man walked past as I was drinking from a can of diet coke says to me “I hope that’s low calorie?” I didn’t really know what to say so carried on walking but actually by the time I got home it had really got to me! I’m really tired, feeling a bit lonely and bored on maternity leave and not exactly feeling my most confident anyway. This is the last thing I wanted to hear. Why is it ok to say something like that to anybody, let alone someone who has produced another human and is doing their best to keep 2 kiddies plus a husband alive?
It got me thinking, how are we supposed to embrace our new bodies when there are people in the world who judge complete strangers like this and feel the need to say cruel things?
Why is there an expectation from society that we will just ‘bounce back’ as though our bodies are elastic, why don’t we embrace that they may always be different because of what they have gone through? Why is different bad?
Why is there an expectation that I should be watching what I eat/drink when actually that sip of Diet Coke is the first thing to pass my lips all day because I’ve had to get a toddler out of the house and sort a 3 month old before going out and I’m always at the bottom of the list?
What is wrong in our culture?
So many cultures around the world respect and nurture new Mums. In China there is the 30 day long ‘sitting in’ period where Mothers aren’t allowed to leave the house, are looked after by relatives and are fed home made lactation inducing meals.
In Japan they have Ansei which is 3 weeks of rest, staying with parents and often the Mum will stay in bed with baby for most of the time. Japanese ladies have low rates of hysterectomies in later life, and the theory is that is related to Ansei as the uterus is given good time to properly recover.
In India the tradition is to stay home for 40-60 days with friends and family cooking meals and giving the mother daily massages.
In the UK you might even be sent home from hospital within 24 hours of having a caesarean section! It feels like we are expected to recover physically and mentally within days or the early weeks and get back to looking our best almost immediately.
If we look at parenting magazines, the covers are adorned with glamourous women with full faces of make up and perfectly coiffured hair, their smiling babies beautifully balanced on their size zero hip. This just perpetuates the myth that we can have it all, the reality is we probably can’t, nor in most cases do we want to.
Often in those early days/weeks/months of motherhood, a good day is when you have had a shower, or manage a full morning of wearing clean clothes! But of course while the media shows us how we ‘should’ look, how will we ever match up? Does this perpetuate the idea that we should all want our old bodies back immediately and that we should somehow prioritise how we are looking on the outside for the purpose of showing how well we are doing at motherhood?
Of course, if you are able to wash your hair, put your make up on and that makes you feel good then that is brilliant, but we certainly shouldn’t feel that is how we need to look to please other people.
This is why in my baby massage classes, I’m honest about the fact that Motherhood isn’t always Insta perfect and I’m passionate about them being an open forum to discuss the challenges as well as the amazing moments we experience whilst finding our way as Mothers. Its all about creating that little village.
For me, for most of the time anyway, I don’t generally worry too much about what people think about me and how I look but I do definitely feel some pressure to be losing the baby weight. Silly and flippant comments like the one made to me this week don’t help, but I don’t blame him specifically, I just wish our society could change how we think of, value and support new Mothers. Hopefully one day that will change.
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