Thirty one weeks today.
Thirty one whole weeks since this little madam arrived.
Thirty one whole weeks of love.
I know I’m late to the party, but I read an article in a gossip magazine this week (I know, I know, it’s a guilty pleasure) about Kate Middleton looking fabulous hours after she’d given birth.
The poor girl has been praised by the majority but has also been criticised by a fair few, for looking so amazing and putting us ‘normal mums to shame.’ Personally, I am in awe of the woman – if photos emerged of me hours post birth, I doubt anybody would recognise me with my swollen face, bloodshot eye and matted hair. Well, at least I hope they wouldn’t anyway. No amount of hair stylists and make up artists could fix that, so kudos to Kate for standing up there looking amazing.
The article got me thinking about the unbelievable amount of pressure she must of felt, and that was placed on her. And not just her (albeit she has to do it in a disgustingly public kinda way) but all of us new mothers.
In the weeks leading up to my daughter’s birth, I found myself booking in appointments to get waxed, have my hair dyed, my eyebrows done, eyelash extensions – hell, I even considered a spray tan – because god forbid there were any photos of me straight after birth looking ‘hideous.’ (Or like my natural self in other words) Obviously, I didn’t make any of these appointments because little miss came so early, but in this case, I’m so bloody grateful. Anytime that i look at those photos, all I can see is how happy I am. Eyes heavy with exhaustion and full of emotion – but mainly just full of love for this little bundle in my arms. I wasn’t looking to see if my eyebrows were perfect or what my hair was doing. I just look at it and all the feelings of that first night come flooding back to me.
I know I’m not the only woman to feel pressure like that in regards to their birth photos. And in all honesty, i wish it wasnt the case, but the pressures have increased ten-fold since the birth. Gone are the days when I have the time (or money) to put that much thought and effort into my appearance, yet, i still very much feel that pressure to look good every single day. To do my hair (anyone know any other styles apart from the mum bun?!) put on a bit of make up, more so to avoid scaring any babies at the classes, and to actually wear some nice clothes that
A) fit properly, and
B) dont have any spew/poo/bodily fluid splattered across them.
You only have to have a quick scroll through Instagram to see a good number of mums looking fabulous with their glossy, straightened hair and full face of make up. How do you do it?! It takes me until midday some days to wipe off the mascara from the previous day!
A bigger pressure a lot of us face is regaining our pre-pregnancy body. I defy anyone who can say to me that their body or weight hasnt worried or stressed them at some point in this journey. Some are luckier than others – I love that some women can come out two weeks post birth, looking exactly like they did pre-pregnancy. They literally ‘ping-back’ to their pre-pregnancy shape without much effort at all.
But note the emphasis on ‘SOME’. Because it’s definitely not the norm, yet, it’s treated like it is. And us new mums feel the pressure from very early on to get back to looking our best. I’ve been guilty of hating my post-pregnancy body at times, and I often look in the mirror at clothes that no longer fit, or don’t fit in the way that they used to and feel down. I guess it didn’t help that milkshakes were my pregnancy craving and that I continued to demolish a pack of biscuits waaaayy too far on in my motherhood journey to be acceptable, but hey. It was bloody good at the time!
Ive focused a lot on superficial pressures faced by us mums but on a more serious note, I doubt there’s a single part of raising a child that we won’t feel some form of pressure for – the pressure to breastfeed, the pressure to have your breastfed baby take a bottle of expressed milk, the pressure to have your baby sleep through the night and to have the ability to self settle. The pressure to NOT give a dummy/feed to sleep/co-sleep. The pressure to home cook and feed your baby 27 different vegetables and iron/protein/healthy fat sources a day. The pressure for your baby to meet every single milestone in the allocated ‘normal’ time (bonus points for making them earlier!)
The list is absolutely endless (and I’m only 7months into this journey…..)
Although society has a lot to answer for in terms of the pressure we feel, I know that personally, a lot of the pressure comes from myself. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and like to be in control of things. Both traits that DO NOT go well with having a baby. I have started to ease up on myself a bit – some days just don’t go to plan, and that’s ok. Monday might involve a good workout, eating really well, a happy baby who has napped well & regularly throughout the day. Then Tuesday might end with a large glass of wine and a share size bag of crisps to myself, after bedding an overtired, grizzly baby an hour past her normal bedtime. That’s motherhood, right?
Although in some respects social media worsens the pressure, I find in my case, it definitely helps. I follow a lot of mums and read a lot of blogs involving the brutal, real parts of motherhood. The honesty behind the photos and the picture perfect moments. We’re all in this together and thankfully there’s some pretty amazing support out there if you’re having a really crappy time or if the pressure is just getting too much.
So yes, Kate looked absolutely bloody brilliant after having given birth. She looked immaculate, her hair was shiny and the heels went perfectly. But I feel so much luckier knowing that instead of having a team of stylists trying to get me looking ‘media ready,’ all I needed to focus on was recovering and getting to know my beautiful little baby girl.