Are you missing being pregnant after giving birth? It surprised me when I did, writes Emma Parkin.
You sometimes hear women say that they loved being pregnant, while others admit that they battled through every trimester. But do you ever hear anyone say that they missed being pregnant? It might seem like a crazy concept to most new mothers, yet it’s a topic that’s rarely discussed.
A couple of weeks after giving birth to my daughter, I was strolling through my local supermarket and on that particular day the aisles seemed to be filled with pregnant women proudly rubbing their growing bumps. And although I was proudly pushing my gorgeous baby girl in her pram, I felt a strange twinge of envy and longing at the sight of all these pregnant bumps. It was an odd and unexpected sensation! Was I really missing being pregnant after giving birth?
Mourning my belly
I was fortunate to have a complication free pregnancy with just the usual niggles. So when the time came to give birth, I was looking forward to not only meeting my baby, but also being able to see my toes again and bend over without my bump getting in the way.
So what did I actually miss about pregnancy? I suppose I had really enjoyed casually rubbing my bump and feeling those reassuring little kicks and hiccups. And then there’s that sense of anticipation for nine months – the build up to the big day.
This feeling faded away after a couple of days. It’s a really difficult emotion to describe; you are overjoyed to have given birth to your baby, but you also miss being pregnant at the same time. Mother of two and clinical psychologist Dr Katherine O’Hanlon offers up her opinion on why some women might feel like this.
“I think there are a number of factors at play, and that it varies hugely from person to person. I think for many women, being pregnant is an exciting time, when they spend a lot of time imagining what their baby will be like, and enjoying the sensation of the movement they feel as it reassures them that everything is okay.”
“The reality of the early weeks with a new baby are often a LOT harder than people thought they would be, and are often fraught with worry about whether the baby is okay, and I think this leads many to miss their bump as this represents an easier time when they were imagining all the nice bits, without the sleep deprivation and stress that accompanies a newborn.”
Another issue that I think contributes to this feeling is that of weight and body image. Unfortunately, there is such emphasis on body and appearance these days, I think for some women the pressure to regain their pre-pregnancy body, fitness and level of grooming is intense. For some, I think pregnancy allows a reprieve from this constant pressure, as eating well (and more!) and putting on weight is essential, and intensive exercise is contraindicated.
Again, once the baby arrives and things are not how they would want them to be body-wise, I think this can lead women to miss their bump/pregnancy as it’s as if in some way they believe their ‘excuse’ is gone and they put pressure on themselves to get back to pre-pregnancy size/fitness levels.
Bonding with bump
I also think that for many women, being pregnant is a time when they can really let go of their body insecurities and feel comfortable in their own skins, and focus on nurturing baby they are growing. Stroking their bump and tuning into the baby’s movement is a way of bonding with their baby, which most mothers really enjoy.
However, the return to ‘normal’ can be accompanied by a lot of stress and self-criticism (about how they look, how they are doing as a mum, how they feel) which unsurprisingly leaves some longing for their bump back as again for many this was a very special, enjoyable time which they miss. Trying to lose baby weight too quickly, or putting themselves under pressure to do so, is not good for physical or emotional health and in some cases can contribute to feelings of low mood or anxiety postnatally.
For some women, however, the total opposite is true and pregnancy is a difficult, stressful time which they are delighted to see the back of, regardless of how hard they find it having a newborn around!
For more information from Dr. O’Hanlon, visit www.katherineohanlon.com
More like this:
First night out
Welcome to parenthood
When did you get YOU back