Monday, 2 April 2012

Post-Pregnancy Body Pressures

I've wanted to write this for months and months, but it seems especially apt now that I'm pregnant. Anyway, since it seems to be spiralling ever more out of control, I wanted to say something about the pressure on women to lose their baby weight and to bounce straight back to their pre-pregnancy bodies.

Every single day (and, believe me, that is no word of a lie) I am bombarded with endless newspaper stories along the lines of: "Miranda Kerr Takes to Catwalk Just Weeks After Birth," "How Victoria Beckham Got Her Body Back in TWO WEEKS!," "Heidi Klum's Sexy Bikini Snaps - Just Days After Birth!"

Or, worse still, there's the headlines for the more 'normal' of the pregnant celebs - "Jessica Simpson Shows Off her HUGE Baby Bump."

The Daily Mail website is, as ever, the worst culprit and, to me, it heaps pressure on us mere mortals. I'm not saying that Miranda Kerr doesn't look fabulous because she clearly does, but seeing these snaps of models in their bikinis,without even a stretch mark (or, often, a baby in tow) to show for their pregnancy, makes us believe that we can - and should - achieve this.

Jessica Simpson's blossoming bump, for which she's been vilified by the press. Pic courtesy of Lil Sugar

Miranda Kerr, just weeks after giving birth. Pic courtesy of Glamour Vanity.
On just one afternoon, I counted THREE stories on the DM's site about celebs whose bodies had bounced back within days after pregnancy. I also sat there, saddened, as I read vile comments about the size of Jessica Simpson's bump. I kid you not, these were some of the things I read: "Warning: herd of elephants approaching!" "It will be interesting to see if she ever gets back to a decent weight. Is her fridge the size of a shipping container?!"

How can people be so hateful? At a time when a woman should be relaxing and thinking of her baby, why is she being judged for eating chocolate or (how very dare she!) putting on a bit of weight which, let's face it, is probably completely normal AND healthy to put on?

Aren't us women already under enough pressure as it is? To have the long, glossy locks? To have the peachy bum, the washboard stomach and the endless legs? Why should we also be expected to look like Victoria's Secret models just days after birth?

I find it endlessly depressing and endlessly sad that there is such a huge pressure on women to look a certain way throughout pregnancy and beyond. Yet even though I know how awful it is, I still fall victim to this ridiculous pressure - and I know many others who do too.

Each and every morning, I exercise without fail. I feel guilty on the days on which I don't exercise, and I resent every single bit of sugar I pop into my mouth.

While I'm desperate to have a big, visible bump, I still stare at the size of my hips with a glower. I check my bingo wings to see if I've put on weight, and I endlessly body brush my legs to rid them of cellulite. In fact, I've ALREADY started looking up post-pregnancy workout DVDs and diet plans, even though I'm only four months pregnant. That's not prepared, that's sad.

Of course, I'm not alone. One of my friends told me that her sister has just two weeks to go before birth, yet she still goes to the gym every single day, spending hour upon hour on the treadmill. She is so terrified of gaining weight that she refuses to leave until she is dripping with sweat and can scarcely walk.

When did it become like this? When did it become the 'norm' to slip straight back into our skinny jeans? When did it become ideal to exercise like an Olympic athlete right up until birth? And when did we start thinking this was OK?

Pregnancy should be a time us women relax and enjoy. It should be the one time where we happily ditch the diet and the marathon exercise regime and simply chill out - after all, it's going to be the last time for many, many years where we can kick back!

Obviously I'm not suggesting that we all go an gorge ourselves on litre upon litre of ice cream, and a touch of exercise is brilliant for us all. But we don't have nannies to look after our babies while we go for two hour runs. We don't have personal trainers yelling at us like drill sergeants to lose that belly flab. And, if all else fails, we don't have a plastic surgeon on speed dial only too ready to give us a tummy tuck...

I am not a Victoria's Secret model, and nor do I want to be (I actually mean that). I have pregnancy spots, my hair is dry and frazzled, and I AM going to gain weight. And I'll be damned if I'm going to sacrifice precious time with my baby when he/she is here so that I can go off marathon training!

So, this week, I'm making it my mission to relax and enjoy myself. After all, it's not just about me - it's about what is best for baby. And who says that baby won't enjoy the odd bar of chocolate here and there?!

Sam x