getting over your bump
Labour & birth

Missing being pregnant after giving birth

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.

Missing being pregnant after giving birth

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.

Missing being pregnant after giving birth

“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.”

Body issues

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.

getting over your bump

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

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.

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Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….