I read recently, that new mums, now more than ever, are feeling the pressure to become “yummy mummy’s”. That is, to return to being as thin and beautiful as they were before they had their baby, as soon as possible after they’ve had their baby. No rest time. No time to spend being cared for. Just an immense pressure to be out and about within days of giving birth, having lunch with the girlfriends at the local café, while all the time wearing size 10 jeans and having perfectly coiffed hair. And it makes me…. well, there are so many words; angry, sad, annoyed, just to name a few.
Where is this pressure coming from? I’m pretty sure it’s not coming from the blokes. In fact, survey after survey shows that it’s not coming from them. The media has a fair amount of input, showing highly edited photos of celebrities leaving hospital with supermodel proportions. Do we as women really believe that hype? I guess, sadly, that many women do. (And if you want to read the real story behind some of these highly photoshopped images, read about it over at MamaMia).
But here’s the thing. Most of us put that pressure on ourselves. How many women have these thoughts? “Mandy over there was back playing netball 3 weeks after giving birth, so I need to be back after 3 weeks too!” or “I don’t really fell like going out to lunch today, I’d really like a nap. But if I don’t go they’ll think I’m not coping.” We worry incessantly about what everybody else thinks. Well, everybody except that little 8 pound bundle…
How about you ask the person who depends on you the most what they think? I’d like to bet that when you get up to feed them at midnight (and 2.21am and 4.37am and 6.02am) that they don’t look at you and think “Boy, Mum’s really let herself go”. I’m also pretty sure that when you are out for a gentle walk that they aren’t thinking “This is great, but I really wish she would leave me alone and have a vigorous game of netball”. My bet is that their only thought is “Hungry! Feed me! Warm. Yummy. Sleepy now. Mmmmm, cuddles. Safe. Happy. LOVE”
Nobody is forcing us to do this. We are doing this to ourselves and it’s time to stop.
It’s time to take some time out after having a baby. They will never need you again as much as they need you now. Take the time to spend time with your new baby. Your friends will still be there when you feel ready for that lunch out at the café – your real friends will get takeout from the café and bring it to you. And they won’t care if you’re still in your jammies at 10am because you’ve been up all night. Your real friends will do your dishes and hang out your washing while you catch up on some much needed sleep. They will listen out for the baby while you have a shower and freshen up.
I’m not saying that you should still be slothing around in your trackies, with unwashed hair and living on takeaway food when your babys is happily crawling up the passageway. But it doesn’t need to happen the instant you get home from hospital either. Gradually, your mind and body and your baby will tell you when you are ready to be “back to normal” (whatever that is). Just don’t expect it to happen overnight.