They say comparison is the thief of joy, and yet it is something we are all guilty of from time to time. Whether it’s comparing another baby’s milestones to ours or another mother’s postpartum figure to our own, the only thing we generally get from it is negativity.
Particularly so when it comes to our bodies. After months of being told we are blooming, radiant and glowing in pregnancy, many of us are left feeling as though we are left in a body that is no longer our own once our babies are born.
We may have stretch marks or scars that weren’t there before, be struggling to come to terms with loose stomach muscles, a weakened pelvic floor and even have issues including incontinence. So it can be hard to see fellow mums who appear to have “bounced back” soon after giving birth, whose pregnancy pounds have melted away and are back in their pre-baby jeans within weeks while we’re still rocking maternity wear way past the fourth trimester.
However, we can’t compare our bodies to theirs, and even more importantly, we can’t berate these women for looking and feeling good in early motherhood. For the most part their post-baby bodies are likely down to genetics and sheer luck, and they shouldn’t feel that they need to hide away for fear of making anyone else feel bad either.
It’s a topic that has recently been raised by celebrity mums Vogue Williams, Emily Ratajkowski and Laura Whitmore, all of whom have had babies in the past 12 months and all of whom look amazing.
Laura, who recently welcomed a baby girl with husband Iain Stirling, even went so far as to ask people not to compare their postpartum journey to hers, and to allow her to celebrate the fact she feels the best she ever has since giving birth, in a world determined to tell her how terrible she’ll feel as a new mum.
“Little tip for speaking to new mums… everyone has a different experience so please don’t put your opinion or expectation on them. I’ve been told I won’t be able to leave the house and should feel shit. But I actually feel the best I’ve felt ever and the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. And maybe feel a bit guilty for feeling good as I’ve been told I shouldn’t,” Laura wrote on Instagram.
Explaining that she had a positive birth, has had no issues so far and a supportive partner, Laura added: “But you should never compare yourself to anyone as your journey is specific to you. Stop comparing bodies and situations. My body is not here for your comparison so please don’t judge it.
“Support other women, it doesn’t knock you – in fact, it empowers you.”
Meanwhile, Vogue Williams recently confessed she had worried about posting photos of herself online after the birth of her daughter Gigi, due to comments on her naturally slim and athletic figure.
Vogue told The Sun’s Fabulous magazine: “There is so much pressure put on women about this and I didn’t want to add to that when, instead of worrying about losing the baby weight, we should be worrying about where our pelvic floor is at and how our mental health is doing.”
Emily Ratajkowski also sparked debate online when she shared a photo of her flat stomach weeks after giving birth. She was accused of showing off and trying to make others feel bad, although her photo was posted with no caption and we don’t even know for sure if it was taken recently.
Of course, it’s only natural to envy the way others look, especially when it comes to gorgeous models like Emily. But comparing ourselves to them or even criticising others for their appearance isn’t going to make anyone feel good.
As Laura rightly said, your journey is specific to you, so focus on what makes you feel good about yourself and celebrate all that you have achieved bringing new life into the world. Unfollow people or pages who make you feel inferior or down, and look to those who uplift, inspire and motivate you. In time our postpartum bodies will heal and change, and hopefully you can wear those new curves and marks as badges of honour. They mean you’re a mother, and you’re doing an amazing job.