Birth trauma and body image

Over the years I have had differing feelings about my body. It’s gone through so much- from childhood, to puberty, to fat, to thin, to just right, to pregnant, to post-natal… I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it to be honest and I think that can be said for a lot of other women too. We’re shown pictures of glamorous, thin models all the time on television and in magazines and we are mostly led to believe that’s how we should look too. As you get older, and wiser to photo-shop, you start to realise that there is more to life than the size of your jeans.

After I had my daughter I had one such realisation when I stepped on the scales at six weeks post-natal. It wasn’t pretty, but the baby lying in the pram gazing up at me certainly was. Oh, I lost the weight and life went on, so what does it really matter? I kind of thought I was over all the negative body image stuff now that I had someone else other than myself to worry about.

These days it’s a different type of body image I’m talking about. I will hold my hands up and say that I am not entirely happy with my figure at the moment- I’ve just had my third child and I’m not getting any younger after all. But that’s not what this post is about. This isn’t going to be about how I have let myself down by not sticking religiously to a healthy eating plan the whole way through my pregnancy. This isn’t going to be about the kinds of feelings I have towards my body now that my baby is here and my body needs to re-adjust itself once more. This is a little deeper than that. This is about how I really feel about my body.

Since I had my son ripped from my belly I’ve kind of felt that my body let me down. I’ve kind of felt that my body wasn’t quite up to the job- not once, but twice! Why wasn’t my body able to deliver a baby the way it was supposedly designed to do so? Why had my body let me down so badly when I needed it the most?

These are the thoughts that took over the usual I hate the way I look thoughts after my son was born.

Body image isn’t just about how you look, its also about how you perceive your actual body and it’s usefulness. A body that can’t give birth properly? That’s just useless. A body that can’t give birth properly and also looks bad? Oh, where do I start?

My son’s traumatic birth did me no favours in so many ways. Not only was I struggling with the usual post-natal hang ups, but  I had the added frustration that it just didn’t work the way it was supposed to either. But since having the baby and finally getting my positive birth experience… I think my body image is changing at last.

My body is amazing.

My body grew three children for nine and a bit months. That’s 36 months of growing, nurturing, protecting and giving.

My body never had raised blood pressure, swollen ankles or heartburn.

My body kept three babies alive, feeding them when they needed me.

My body protects three children with arms that hug and a heart that cares.

My body may not be the size I want it to be right now, but it has more important things to do first. And I think, most days, I’m ok with that.

My son’s birth did me no favours and yet it gave me so much- it opened my eyes to the things that truly matter to me. It helped me to become the person I am today and the mother I was supposed to be all along.

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