My Body Is Amazing! (PS Yours Is Too)

So here is a post about my post-pregnancy body.  It does not include weight loss tips or an exercise plan.  I know traditionally we’re all supposed to hate our bodies after we give birth, but actually, after my successful VBAC in February, I LOVE my body.  I think it is the most awesome miraculous thing in the world!  It doesn’t look like the pictures you see in magazines of how we are supposed to look, but I don’t give a crap about all of that nonsense.  My  body has grown and fed two tiny human beings! That is a million times better than being able to wear a bikini.

Giving birth has made me feel like the cleverest person in the world.  I am amazed by what my body can do and has done.  I feel stronger than I ever have done before.  I feel like I can do anything now, it’s an addictive feeling.  I want to challenge myself.  I can’t wait to get my running shoes on again – it’s been a while!  I’m considering signing up for a 10K run to get that buzz of completing a challenge and physical achievement again.

And now I feel like my body is a temple, what I put into it is more important than ever.  I’ve been dabbling with the Paleo diet for about a year and a half now, but basically by cutting back on processed food including grains (because how much processing does an ear of wheat have to go through in order to make spaghetti?) and eating more whole foods instead, I have so much more energy (all the better to cope with the disrupted nights!), better digestion, no more bloating, better skin, more even moods, and generally just feel so much better. Don’t get me wrong I’m not perfect, sometimes we still have sandwiches for lunch or pasta for dinner, and it’s hard to resist the lure of the biscuit tin when you’ve been awake all night.  But I’ve definitely found that eating better makes me feel better.

My point is, my body is amazing and is capable of amazing things.  Yours is amazing too.  Look after it and keep it that way!  And forget about the idiots who want to help you get back your pre-pregnancy body; they are probably just trying to sell you something.

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Motherhood is not Martyrdom

In parenting magazines and blogs you will often find references to the difficulty of finding ‘me time’ once you are a mum and how guilty mothers feel for taking any time for themselves. It’s like a competition with mothers competing to tell each other how many cups of tea they haven’t drunk or how many days since they’ve had a shower. Motherhood is the hardest job in the world and if you take a break or go to the toilet with the door shut, then you’re cheating.

Well today I am calling for this to come to an end. Yes, being a mum is hard work (I am generalising but statistically speaking dads still get more leisure time than mums, although of course there will be exceptions). Some days you will be simultaneously bored out of your mind and rushed of your feet. There will be days when you don’t have time to brush your teeth. And obviously you can’t spend all weekend in your PJs eating takeaway pizza and watching box sets. But mums are human beings too, you have needs, it is not a crime to look after yourself.

Make sure you take time every day to look after yourself. If you don’t take good care of yourself, how can you take care of your family? I have a 3 year old and a 3 month old and I manage to shower pretty much every day. We also have a cleaner for a couple of hours a week so that I get a chance to sit down in the evenings (to be honest, if we didn’t have a cleaner, I would still sit down in the evenings and just have a dirty house). I read, I blog (occasionally), I take 5 minutes to just drink a cup of tea and do nothing. I think of it like the oxygen masks on a plane: you have to put your own on before you can put your children’s masks on.

If all you focus on is parenting you will run yourself into the ground and be tired and irritable, and no good to anybody least of all your children. You need to make sure you fill up your own cup with things that make you feel good, whether that’s a cup of tea and a trashy novel, some yoga stretches, going to the gym or soaking in a bubble bath. It’s also modelling to your children healthy habits for their future mental health – relaxation is important and often gets overlooked in our hectic lifestyles.

Review: The Baby’s Coming by Virginia Howes

This book tells the inspiring story of Virginia Howes and how she came to be an independent midwife, which she has been doing for 14 years. It’s not a typical career path though: young mum, kissogram, midwife! It’s written in a lovely, friendly, down-to-earth style, and you feel as though you are sitting down and having a nice cup of tea and a chat with Virginia as she tells her stories.

Virginia’s book gives a good insight into hospital birth and working on a maternity ward, from describing her own birth experiences (I assumed she must have had all lovely positive home births which is not the case) and while she was training. I know things have improved since then but I do feel that a lot of what is considered normal practice in hospitals is done for the convenience of the hospital staff, and not necessarily to the benefit of the mother and baby. There is also an element of luck involved as to what type of midwife you get when you arrive – one that wants to be in control of the situation or one who is happy to take a woman-centred approach.

However the absolute best thing about this book is the birth stories. If you’ve ever had a baby, are expecting one or would like to have one, this book is full of lovely stories that will bring a tear to your eye. Some are heartwarming, some funny, some dramatic and some very sad. They are all well worth reading. If you’re a midwife or thinking of becoming one you should definitely read this book and think hard about the type of midwife you want to be.

This book also makes me a bit sad that not all women have access to this kind of care during pregnancy and birth. Having had Virginia as my independent midwife during my second pregnancy, I know from first-hand experience that it makes such a difference to have continuity of care and have someone that you know and trust, and who knows you, your history and your wishes, at the birth. It was lovely to be treated like a person rather than a disaster waiting to happen. Sadly this type of care might not be available much longer as Independent Midwifery will become illegal due to EU Legislation which means independent midwifes have to have insurance – yet no insurance is currently available for them to buy!

I read this book in under a week – no mean feat with a 3 year old and a newborn baby in the house! I found it unputdownable, and I’ve already lent it to one of my friends who is expecting. It was really interesting to learn about Virginia’s life and what led her to become a midwife. I’d just like to know if my birth story might feature in one of Virginia’s future books!