Nothing says ‘I just gave birth’ like paper knickers.
Paper knickers, a tender, swollen belly, boobs that resemble a cow’s udder, it’s glam.
Thing is, when it’s your first time to the birthing rodeo, you know nothing of the above.
The ‘still looks pregnant’ belly, fluid leakage and ‘is my vagina going to fall out when I sneeze?’ experience can take you by suprise, even after nine months of preparation.
It’s not the kind of things you often see on the ‘gram. Labour? Yep. That first, blissful cuddle or suckle? We can’t get enough. But the actual reality of the immediate postpartum period? Not so insta worthy.
That’s why we loved this post by self described “first time crunchy mama” Nat Jorge-Martin from the instagram account natthenaturalmum
Nat took to instagram to share the incredibly raw, unfiltered image of her cradling her tiny daughter Delilah in the days after birth. Why? To demystify the postpartum period and the rapid changes that occur to our bodies during that period.
‘This is real. This is childbirth’
“Why would I post this picture?” Nat begins. “You can see all the cellulite on my fat legs. My stomach looks huge, like I am still pregnant… You can see the pad in my unflattering hospital panties. I have no makeup on and my hair hasn’t been brushed in days. Why would I post this picture? Because this is postpartum. This is REAL. THIS IS CHILDBIRTH.
“I asked my husband to take this photo because it was the first time I stood up in days and the first time I held my baby all by myself, without wires connecting me to a bed. This moment was so beautiful, I got to sway side to side while holding the life I sustained for 9 months,” she says, of the photo cradling her baby girl shortly after giving birth.
“I didn’t care that my robe was open and you could see my chunky legs or the ugly hospital panties. All I cared about was that I was a mother now; and that I was head over heels in love with this little human.”
YAS GIRL! #PREACH as the kids say.
The ‘bounce back’
Everyone will have a difference experience of birth and birth recovery. Some women DO bounce right back and leave the hospital looking no different to how they did before they smuggled in a basketball under their shirt. For others, it takes time. And for all of us, there’s the swelling, leaking and discomfort.
As Nat so accurately points out; “You will not bounce back once that baby comes out of you. You will not “lose the baby weight” super quickly. Your ankles will still be swollen and your belly will still be round. And there’s NOTHING wrong with that. You just brought a baby into the world. Whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section, a child emerged from your body and that’s a HUGE deal!
‘You just made a human’
The beautiful post opened up a dialogue with her followers who shared their own experiences, post birth.
“Absolutely beautiful, I am headed in for my c section Wednesday morning to have my baby boy. I am so excited for the outcome but so scared for what it takes to get there. I love seeing real stories and real mommas who have been through this and came out strong and ok! You look beautiful and you just made a human!”
“You brave soul. It takes a lot to share your vulnerability. Such a powerful message for others!”
“Love this photo it’s so candid and beautiful, what an amazing time it is when we meet our babies.”
“Thank you for this. My son is 15 months old and although I have been overweight my whole life, I surprised myself on how unhappy I was with my postpartum body. I am now on a great journey to not just loose the baby weight, but the lifetime weight and this picture has reminded me that no matter what happens my body IS beautiful. It grew a human being and I will celebrate it no matter what it looks like or what others think.”
‘This is what I look like now’
Nat concludes that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the world of the postpartum body. “I’m still not happy with my body and I still have days where I look in the mirror and whisper “ugh, this is what I look like now” under my breath,” she says.
“But I am immensely grateful for what it has done. It grew a life out of a few cells. It labored for 26 hours and it was opened on a table to bring that life into this world.”
Amen to that!