J Is For: Jelly Belly

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Jelly mummy belly, the mum tum, the kangaroo pouch – whatever you call it, a lot of us mums have one after we have our baby. Some women may appear to snap back and have a lovely flat stomach very soon after birth. We may be jealous of that, but to them I’m sure that it still doesn’t seem the same as it was before. We are all different and our bodies are our own; but they all change after child birth.

As first-time mums, we are probably all aware that our body will change but I don’t think we are always fully aware how much it will change, and that, no matter how hard we work, it may never be the same as it was before. With all the glossy magazines out there telling us ‘5 easy steps to get back your body’ and showing us these celebrities that appear to be back to peak condition days after birth, we have a false idea of how we should look and how simple it is to get there after. And when we don’t get there because we’re too tired to exercise, we’re running on empty and eating too much junk food, we have no time to focus on ourselves or it just isn’t physically possible, we feel like failures.

I had just turned 20 when I had my first baby. I was overweight before I became pregnant but after birth, I was actually a little lighter. This encouraged me to join Slimming World and get the slim body I had always wanted. I wasn’t going to be seen in a bikini anytime soon, I had stretch marks all over my stomach, but I wanted some confidence in my body and I thought that’s how I would get it. I managed to lose 2 and a half stone and get down to a 10-12 dress size for the first time in my adult life. Was I feeling healthier and more energised? Hell yes! Did I feel more confident in my body? Out of my clothes, no. My belly was flatter, but it was wobblier and squishier than it ever had been, my stretch marks were more defined by the lack of fat flattening them out, making my belly crinkled and saggy and I had a pouch of empty loose skin just under my belly button. I was devastated, so I hit the gym. But, no matter what I did, nothing changed the appearance of my belly.

Then came baby number 2. It took me 3 years to feel any need to focus on my weight; I didn’t see the point before then, I was never going to be happy with what I saw. But my weight was creeping up and I had to stop and pay attention.

I’ve lost another 2 stone and am only half a stone heavier than before my second pregnancy, but something has clicked in my head. This is the body I have, this is the only one I will ever have and I’ve got to learn to live with it and stop letting it hold me back. You see these articles saying you should love your belly no matter what because it gave you your children and, while that is true – it was an amazing home for 9 months – it doesn’t make us all want to jump for joy at the permanent changes that pregnancy has made to OUR bodies. We are under so much pressure from society to either look a certain way or embrace all of our flaws for the world to see, but what if we just want to accept it and move on? What if we don’t look as we want to and we don’t like it and we never will, but can’t change it? Isn’t that OK too? We should all be able to love the skin we are in because it’s all we have. Accentuate the things we do like, look for the beauty within, try not to dwell on the things we can’t change and find some positives even in the bits we hate.

I don’t love my jelly belly. Some days I look in the mirror and hate it and wear something baggy and put on a face of make up and some good jeans and try to make myself feel better about the bits I do like.  Other days, I look at it and think, ‘you know what, it’s ok’ and I put on the tight fitted top and show off my curves. I will always feel a bit self conscious and you won’t catch me in a bikini by the pool, but I will rock a good shaping one piece! My jelly belly is part of me and I will never love it, but that’s OK because I won’t it hold me back, deflate me or define who I am!

You don’t need a 6 pack to rock what you have and let your beautiful personality shine!!!

Screw you jelly belly!!!!

This post is part of our A-Z of Parenting series where we take a look at the whole alphabet of things that can go right – or wrong – with parenting. A new letter is added every couple of days. Check out what’s happened so far here.
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Harley is a single mum of two aged 3 and 6. Born and raised in London, she is now doing the same with her children. Harley has come to terms with not being able to be a perfect parent after carrying years of mum guilt for various reasons and now is just enjoying her little terrors to the full.

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