Monday, 16 October 2017

The Myth Of Bouncing Back After Birth



"Ooh you do look tired my lovely..." The checkout assistant at Tesco told me as she handed me my carrier bag, bursting with nappies, wipes and various teething remedies..."Don't worry, you'll soon bounce back!"

If I'd heard that expression once since my first baby was born 3 months earlier, I'd heard it a million times.

I was exhausted. Tearful most of the time. Struggling to keep on top of the housework and keep all of the health visitor appointments. Riddled with guilt whenever I even thought about asking anybody for help.


But yet all I heard, from family, from the health visitor, from Drs...was that I'd soon "bounce back".


So I kept waiting for that to happen. And I muddled through as best I could.

The same went for my appearance…I suffer with a thyroid condition that is sent haywire during and after pregnancy, and this meant that each time I gave birth I was put on steroid medication to recover…which came with a huge weight gain.

While everybody around me seemed to be losing their baby weight at a steady pace, and every new-mummy magazine I read focused on how to achieve that goal…I felt like a failure. I was getting bigger instead of smaller. 

That first baby of mine is almost 5 now, and I've had 2 more babies since...it took me until my 3rd to finally realise that "bouncing back" probably wasn't going to happen. At least not in the way people seemed to expect it to.

I was a size 16 when I gave birth to my first born, and a size 20 by the time I’d given birth to my third…yet somehow I felt less concerned this time than I did before. Because I’d come to realise that my body was doing its very best…it may not look exactly how I wanted it to or how everybody else thought it should, but it gave me three beautiful children and it coped with those births as well as it could.

The difference was that third time around, I stopped expecting to bounce back...I learnt that my way of adapting to motherhood might be a bit different to other peoples.
That maybe 6 months in I would find myself wearing my pyjamas 90% of the time. That maybe the level of clean in our home might not be quite as high as usual. That maybe we'd have a couple more takeaway nights each month than usual.

But that it was all fine.

Because motherhood isn't easy, and it takes time to adapt. Bringing a new human being into your home, especially one who is completely dependent on you, is challenging in many ways. You do what you can to make it work...and sometimes that might not be the prettiest of pictures.

When I learned to stop worrying so much about whether or not my baby was hitting all of the milestones exactly when the apps said he was supposed to, I relaxed and enjoyed watching his progress more...confident that he'd get there in his own time.

When I learned to stop fretting about getting all of my housework done, I finally managed to relax and enjoy the comfort of our own home...knowing that things would be done when the chance arose, and that 5 minutes relaxation was far more important to my mental health than a perfectly scrubbed floor.

When I learnt to stop trying to force my body to look how I thought it should and accepted the stress and the changes it had been through, and became grateful for all it had done…my perspective changed.

When I finally stopped trying to have it all, do it all and be it all....and stopped trying to bounce back...I found myself enjoying my life and my children a whole lot more.

New research from Bepanthen has shown that almost half of all new mothers have admitted to feeling lonely, or abandoned in the weeks after child birth with many feeling that they are struggling under the pressure to “bounce back”.

In response to this, Bepanthen has launched a new online platform www.10thmonth.co.uk which is a site dedicated to supporting new months in the first month after birth.
The tenth month is a time when attention switches from the mother to the baby, meaning that the mum can often be overlooked. Bepanthen want to shine a light on the “forgotten” mum.

The site is packed with useful articles, tips and advice on the physical and emotional changes new mums will be going through to help.

To find out more, please visit www.10thmonth.co.uk


*With thanks to Bepanthen for collaborating with us on this post

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4 comments

  1. Motherhood is challenging and I think the more we share the challenges openly as in your post the better we will all be. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.

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  2. I never bounced back after the births of any of my children. With the first two births quite traumatic I was in no way up to ensuring I was exercising, dieting etc. just to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans.

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  3. I think we forget that we need time to recover too. So important to take it easy on ourselves and just enjoy those special first weeks x

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  4. We put so much pressure on ourselves don't we and we shouldn't! That's why looking after ourselves is just as important. As you say, it clearly takes us a bit of time to do that and realise the importance of it. Great post xx

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