Google “Post Baby Tummy” – What do you see?
I see “will your flat stomach come back after pregnancy?” “Why has it changed and how to tone it?” alongside an array of photos of Tummy Rub’s and Waist cinchers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a wearer of some of the super amazing Spanx underwear and slathering on Bio oil in the hope that perhaps one of my stretch marks will magically disappear into stretch mark heaven, but how does it make me feel when immediately I am subjected to these images. That there is only one solution. To cover it up, cinch it in or slather it up with oils and creams. I start to think that perhaps I should be hiding my tummy? Should I be trying to lose it? When lets face it, I am going to be stuck with this post baby tummy. But do you know what, that’s actually ok.
But I wonder how many other women are faced with the same negative emotions and lack of confidence due to media expectations. Certainly not like the images you are looking at right now. Unfortunately the sheer volume of idealized images in the media creates a massive gap between what we believe is normal and what actually is normal.
Is this a problem? Yes! The reason that we feel conscious about the way we look is because of society’s expectations. We are expected to lose our baby weight within 9 months but not only that to return to our pre baby shapes. Think about the long term implications of this. A mother who feels dissatisfied with her body feels selfless, worthless. This mother is so distraught about herself that she hides herself in baggy clothes, she avoids socializing with new people and subsequently she hides from the world.
My company, Before Meets After, has started a local campaign to show mums what ‘normal’ mums tums look like. Mums from all over have sent us photos of their tummies that you can see here, often with encouraging messages such as, “I wouldn’t change this for the world.” One amazing mum referred to her stretch marks as her “Tiger Stripes.” It has been truly inspiring.
The vast majority of the images we have received have been shared on the condition that their names are not disclosed. I have no need to question this because the simple reason is we don’t feel confident enough to share our war wounds. Anonymously yes but you know what – That’s ok too.
I understand that for some women, even sharing their tummies with the world is just too difficult. I used to be one of these women. This is the reason why I created my business – To help empower women to feel more confident about themselves. Why? I struggled for years with my own body issues and confidence. To the point where I would spend hours trying on dozens of outfits. I expected the clothes in my wardrobe to give me confidence, just like that. What a high expectation to have of a wardrobe!
I started to look past the clothes and understand the psychology of my wardrobe. I shopped to make myself feel better and when this did not work, the feelings repeated themselves. I had a visit from an Image Consultant who helped me understand what shapes suited my body and what colours made me look amazing. But it was more than that. For me, after clearing out my wardrobe, it was like somebody had given me permission to get rid of everything in my wardrobe, in my life, that made me sad. I realize that I had started to accept change in my life. Alongside the advice I received to truly understand my style and my shape, my confidence began to grow.
Being a Mum is also recognizing that we are individuals and not just mums. Being a Mum is most of the most rewarding and biggest changes to our lives. It is about change. Our skin has been stretched so far past our toes that we forgot we even have any!
So how can I help you?
Ultimately I have come to accept my body because I know how to work with it, not against it.
I am not here to convince you to show off your imperfect perfect body, but only say that if we were a little more willing to talk about it, there would be more mums who would be proud of their Real Mum Tums.
There is no magic formula. Lave the magic to Disney and follow my Top 10 Tips to feeling more confident about yourself:
- Invest in good jeans – Wear Jeans that have side zips and sit on your waist. Not only will they look better but they will make you feel more comfortable and confident.
- Wear some of your favourites – Just because you are a Mum does not mean that you need to raid your partners wardrobe for baggy pants (Although these come in handy in the first 6 weeks of having a baby!) – Better to spend £50 on a new pair of jeans that fit you for your shape now rather than put up with a pair that just don’t fit right.
- Box up your pre baby clothes – Somewhere where you won’t see them for a fair while! There is nothing worse than opening your wardrobe to clothes that don’t fit you. You think they will inspire you to get back into your pre baby jeans – They won’t. Trust me
- Do some exercise – Strengthening your core will not only help you with your body confidence but also your mind. Think of all of those good endorphins! If nothing else, it gets you time to yourself!
- Try accessorising an outfit – Some simple jewellery can transform an outfit and slim the body – Making you feel great and an inexpensive way of adding style to your clothes without having to buy a whole new wardrobe. Check out this handy Neckline hint sheet:
- Get Measured – Your bra size changes a lot after having a baby – Get yourself down to a good bra department, get measured and wear with pride. There’s nothing like a nice new matching set of underwear to make your boobs like pert and well cupped!
- Plan ahead – Get your outfit out the night before – Just like your mum probably used to do for you when you were at school! Good planning will stop you from frantically trying to find something to wear.
- Use Dry Shampoo – If you have never heard about this, stop reading this and immediately get yourself down to Boots! It will honestly change your life when you don’t have time to wash you hair. It also smells good making you feel good!
- Talk to other mums – Our confidence workshops are a great platform to do this and sometimes it is easier to talk to mums you don’t know.
- Seek Help – Recognise that if your body confidence issues go deeper or perhaps you are suffering with PND– Seek help. Speak to your Health Visitors. There are some extremely good Life Coaches, NLP Practitioners and Counsellors that really can help make a difference.
It is not what others think about your body that matters – Its yours. Your body, your confidence, your life. Remember that it is ok to have bad days. You are not alone.
Our confidence workshops aim to talk about these issues and offer some helpful tips to improve your confidence with your own body.
If you would like to learn more about our ‘Confidence Workshops’ please contact me on Catherine@beforemeetsafter.co.uk or check out my website for more information www.beforemeetsafter.co.uk. You can also sign up to our newsletter here:
If you would like to join in on our “Mums Tums Confidence Campaign” please contact me with your story and pictures. We would love to hear from you.
Thank you to all the amazing mums who have contributed towards our campaign. x