Body Image Issues: Pre and Post Baby

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Body image is a sensitive, serious and complex issue amongst woman today. I am definitely no expert so I will start off by saying that this post is about sharing my personal experiences (no one else's) along with some tips on what I am doing to try and overcome the body image issues that have haunted me for years.

I remember it perfectly, I was just eight years old. It was a sports day at school and I was wearing my white pleated netball skirt when a couple of girls came up to me during lunchtime and began teasing me about how my skirt sat on my hips differently and how I looked 'funny' compared to all the other girls. Physically, I was just an average child, not overweight or underweight by any means but I did (and still do) have very high hips. After that incident, I remember asking my Mum countless times if I could have a 'hip operation' so that I could just be 'normal' like the other girls. Did I mention that I was just eight years old? I was also the only girl to wear pants to my Grade 6 Graduation because I was too self conscious about how I looked in a dress and I became increasingly fearful of wearing a swimsuit in front of anyone. Just ask my Mum. She will tell you she only saw me in a swimsuit without a coverup (for the first time in over fifteen years!) a few years ago. And I am still one of those people who will shyly and discreetly slip off my kaftan and sneak into the pool while no one is watching.

Over the years that followed (high school and puberty, need I say more) I found myself yoyo dieting from about the age of fourteen and whilst I am very thankful I never went down the eating disorder path, I have always been very conscious of what I eat (even though there have definitely been stages throughout my life where my diet suggested otherwise). And my hangups with my body continued throughout my teens and early twenties.

And then came babies. Boy, oh boy, oh boy. My fellow Mummas, I'll stop there shall I? I've always been very sporty and very active so throughout both my pregnancies I kept up my regularl exercise and maintained a healthy, balanced diet. As a result, I was lucky enough to only put on 10.1 kgs with both my girls (yes, I put on the exact amount of weight, to the gram, with both!) so that coupled with breastfeeding, I was able to drop the baby weight quickly. But also due to breastfeeding both my girls (Allegra for twelve months and Anya for eight) let's just say I now refer to my boobs as empty milk sacs. Ugh. I know I'm definitely not alone on this one. And I'd be lying if I said I hadn't contemplated breast augmentation. Maybe one day.

Left: 40 weeks pregnant with Allegra. Right: 10 days after giving birth.
Left: 40 weeks pregnant with Anya. Right: 48 hours after giving birth. Yes, even I was like 'what the hell... where did my tummy go?!
About four months into my second pregnancy, almost over night, I developed hideous, bulging leg veins in my right leg. There was one enormous protruding one running all the way up my thigh and then a series of large ones running off the main one down behind my knee. To say I was devastated is an understatement. My legs had always been one part of my body that I was 'ok' with so to have this happen was so upsetting. Wasn't there already enough going on with my body, you know, with making a baby and all?! So, what was my solution to the problem? I covered up my legs. Yep, that's right, I then wore pants for almost a year and a half as treatment is not permitted whilst you are still breastfeeding. So with my high hips, saggy boobs and vein infested legs I did what I try to do best... be the best Mum I can be. I fed my beautiful 100th percentile baby for eight long refluxy months, wearing pants (even in the heat of summer) that were mostly covered in vomit. And the week after I finished feeding I booked myself in to have Sclerotherapy. It was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It was still another few months before the bruising of the treatment died down but the veins are now completely gone and all I am left with is the tiniest black mark which looks like a very small bruise. I still remember how liberated I felt the first time I bared my legs in public after such a long time (ok ok, a sneaky spray tan may have helped ease the brightness of my sun-deprived legs hee hee). Hence why I am now not shy to wear the odd mini here and there ;) If any one suffering from legs veins would like to hear more about the treatment before contacting a professional, please don't hesitate to email me, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

Left: Just so you know, this is very confronting for me. Up until now I have only ever shared the photo on the left with two, maybe three, people. It was taken just before my treatment and I still can't bring myself to share a photo of the largest vein that ran down my thigh. I still find it so upsetting BUT am delighted and grateful I achieved the results I did after treatment. Right: Taken during my first session at the gym wearing shorts after almost a year and a half. I copped some slack on my Instagram page when I posted this one but hopefully after seeing the before shot you can appreciate why I was so happy about being in shorts again!
Not so surprisingly, my body and shape has changed a lot since having children. One of the strangest things for me personally about my post baby bod is that the areas I never used to like or appreciate are now becoming strengths rather than weaknesses. I never really had a toned, defined tummy pre-children but I have found this last year or so I now have obliques! Well they were always there but you know what I mean... they are now defined! I'm just as baffled as you believe me. AND surprisingly, I think I am slowly (very slowly) embracing my least favourite part of my body, yep, my hips!


I still feel silly writing this because I know there are probably many people reading this thinking 'what has she got to complain about'... but that is my point exactly. It's often the people you least expect who suffer from being severely self conscious. What you see in the mirror can be very different to how others see you. Your least favourite body parts are often what other people like best about you or even what they wished for themselves.  He'll probably kill me for writing this but when Mr B, how shall I put this, first saw me with my kit off the first thing he commented on was my hips... and I mean that in a very good way ;) But sometimes it doesn't matter how many times you hear it, you can't change to way you think and feel about yourself... or can you?!

I am definitely still a work in progress and I still have my days where I really don't like what I see... but here are a few tips on how you can begin improving your body image issues and make friends with the mirror. It's nothing overly profound but sometimes we all just need a little reminder:

- Be gentle with yourself and focus on the parts of your body you do like. Make a conscious effort not to put yourself down around others and instead turn your focus to something positive you have done that day/week.

- Learn to appreciate what your body is capable of and how it serves you daily. Fellow Mummas, um hello, we grew a human being inside of our bellies. How amazing are we!

- Spend a bit of time learning about dressing to best compliment your assets... feeling comfortable and confident in clothes will also help with feeling comfortable and confident out of clothes (your partners will love this... nudge nudge wink wink).

- Avoid crash dieting and instead slowly start making healthy lifestyle changes that are realistic for you to reach your goals. Everything in moderation. And for what it's worth, I still don't believe in sugar free cupcakes ;)

- Meal planning is a great way to introduce healthier meal options into your household. There are always healthy AND tasty alternatives to some of your favourite not-so-healthy meals.

- Exercise regularly! This in itself will help boost self image, self esteem and energy levelsBut again, be realistic with your approach and don't exercise beyond your ability. Regular exercise has always been a big part of my lifestyle and is something Mr B and I feel very passionate about and couldn't live without.

- Stop making excuses! This is a hard one for many of us. It is easy to fall in to the 'oh I will make a change tomorrow' or 'it's too late for me' or 'I don't have the time' trap. Whether it be a mental change or a physical change, today is the day. There is always time. Make the time. YOU CAN DO IT!

- Surround yourself with supportive and inspiring people! A happy and healthy way of life is contagious :)

Thank-you for reading and for allowing me to get a little of that off my chest. It's not often easy to reveal your weaknesses especially when others may see you in a totally different light. This was a bit of a long one so I think I will save some healthy eating and exercise tips for another day. Until then, be the change you seek! xxx

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing Mrs Bouw ... I am going to take on each and every one of your tips. And just for the record, you always look a million dollars! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank-you my darling. I'm so pleased my words were able to inspire you, even if just a little. Much love xxx

      Delete
  2. Beautiful Sonja!! You're truly gorgeous inside and out. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Us Mumma's can be a bit tough on ourselves, especially after having beautiful babies! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank-you so much gorgeous! And you're right, we are tough on ourselves aren't we... even after achieving the greatest thing possible, giving life. I'm hoping that over time woman (including myself) will go easier on themselves and start focusing on all the amazing things they do daily! Much love xxx

      Delete
  3. Thanks for your post Mrs Bouw! I am a long time reader!
    I have 2 children - boy 4 and girl 1. I am finding after my second the weight is really hard to budge. But most of all I find it really hard to have any time to exercise! Can you shed some light how you time manage this with a busy working husband and 2 children?

    Samantha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi lovely Samantha, thanks so much for your comment, I'm so happy you have stuck with me for so long :) I've had a few comments on time management and exercise so I will aim to get a post up on this over the next week... stay tuned! xxx

      Delete
  4. Great post! Thanks for your honesty.
    How do you find the time to keep fit with Mr Bs work schedule?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank-you so much. I just had a similar question above... I will do my best to get a post up on time management and exercise in the next week... stay tuned ;) xxx

      Delete
  5. Mrs Bouw, I hope you no longer have a hip hang up. There is nothing strange about your hips AT ALL. Sad those girls made you feel that way. One bitch in the group just made it up to make you feel bad, probably because they were envious of you. Seriously, there is no hip weirdness!! :) I know what you mean though, about ten years ago I always thought I was chubby and had big thighs and arse and looking back at the pics I was very slim. Glad you feel better you got your legs done, must feel great! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi lovely. Oh I wish I could say my hang up has been laid to rest but I would be lying. Some days/weeks (especially if I have put on a few sneaky kilos) it still really bothers me as my hips is where the weight goes first... why can't it be evenly spread damn it ;) And I guess it is possible for a female to be a bitch at just eight years old hee hee And your last sentence reminded me of an eCard I saw a while ago which read 'I wish I was as fat as the first time I thought I was fat' haha. Thanks so much for your support xxx

      Delete
  6. Honey you are BEAUTIFUL and a wonderful, determined, caring mumma who puts your girls first. Every female has their little hang ups no matter what size they are but really - you I can't even notice your hips! I don't know what your talking about - looks like a perfect body to me!
    I love reading your blog - I look at it every day to see if there is a new post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Megan. Wow, thank-you so much for your very kind words, I don't know what to say. And I'm so pleased you enjoy reading my blog! Much love xxx

      Delete
  7. Thanks for this post. I love the bit about how pregnancy threw a curve ball at the one thing you actually felt pretty good about (legs) - I totally feel like that - have SO many hang-ups that when something goes a miss with a part you actually like, it's like - seriously, is nothing sacred? Great advice - many of these truths I'm trying to work harder on - especially since having a daughter. I find consistency the hardest - that and dressing big boobs with skinny legs...gah @thebrooking Andrea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi gorgeous! Oh I know, talk about a kick in the guts! I think sometime it's just nice to know you are not alone. And I feel for you re: big boobs and skinny legs... I have a few close friends in this situation and they too say it's very hard to find clothes to accommodate! I hope you too continue to overcome some of your hang ups! xxx

      Delete

Hi there :)

Thanks so much for stopping by to leave a comment... I always love hearing from you!

Son xo

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails