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It’s fair to say that when you become a mum you spend the majority of the next, ooh, two years feeling pretty shit. Which means that if, like me, you have two kids in two years (YAY!) you’ll more than likely feel like a swamp monster for not just two, but four years.
The post-partum period really is a total delight. Your body has gone to pot (this is the v. intelligent medical term I favour), you forget what sleep feels like and all your old friends are merrily getting on with their lives like you haven’t just ejected a watermelon from your body. Plus, hormones are running riot through your body like you used to in nightclubs, pushing you to cry at literally ANYTHING you will find slightly sad or annoying.
People will tell you what a magical time this is. You will want to punch them in the face.
Like it or not, in the time after I’d given birth my confidence was linked with the way I felt about how I looked. In a world where nothing seemed to be in my control any more, including the size of my boobs and the wobble of my belly, the fact I could slick some lipstick on as armour against the world was a godsend.
It’s taken me four years (ish) but I’m finally feeling human after having my last baby. Here’s how I did it…
Look after your skin and wear makeup
I appreciate this is the most shallow piece of advice ever, but when your face has more craters than the moon and a full set of luggage has replaced your eye bags, this makes all the difference. Post-partum was the time I really discovered what skincare and make-up works for me, because I was so desperate to make myself look something approximating a human again.
My beauty uniform now consists of a proper routine now, followed by a minimum of light foundation (this is ace), mascara (BeneFit’s They’re Real, always) and a red lipstick to detract from the stuff the foundation can’t cover (Natural Collection‘s are SO easy to wear).
Think about your clothes
It’s SO hard to dress when you’ve just given birth. Your body is a weird irregular shape – big belly, big boobs, unfamiliar wobbly parts – and it’s so easy to just wear your maternity wear for a couple of twelve months after the baby’s arrival. I slipped into ‘new mum dressing’ like a teenager sliding into a DM: skinny (maternity) jeans, breton top (probably Boden or Joules) and Converse. Even now I can’t look a Breton stripe in the eye without harking back to my hazy baby days.
It’s worth taking time to think about the clothes that make you feel good, so that when you’re getting dressed in the morning your outfit gives you an extra oomph (on two hours sleep you’ll need it). Following other mums whose style you admire on Instagram is a good start – and it’s how I get most of my inspiration. I love Erica Davies, Does My Bum Look 40 and Chloe Loves to Shop.
Leave the house
Remaining at home when you have a new baby might feel like the most natural thing to do, but seeing other humans when you’re otherwise feeling isolated is very important. Even the littlest interactions – small talk at the coffee shop, checking-out at the supermarket – can help you feel like yourself again.
But don’t be pressured to go to all those church hall baby groups if you don’t want to. These just made me feel worse when I’d given birth: I felt like I didn’t measure up to the women who were all older and seemingly wiser than me. You’ll find your tribe eventually – I did.
Remember celebrities aren’t real
I could slap all those famous women who post their 6 week post-partum abs on Instagram (and I’m really not a slapper). It’s unfair, it’s unrealistic, it’s unattainable for those of us lacking in a trainer, nanny, dietitian and cook. What I want to see are more photos of mums with pig stye houses, a true representation of the amount of cakes one eats when a baby is born and the REAL bodies we’re left with after birth.
Do something just for you
This could be anything – exercise, a small fledgling business, going back to work full-time, starting a blog. It’s imperative you do something outside of baby that’s just for you, something that reminds you what makes you the unique and special person you are, outside of being a mum.
Here you are – from new-mum alien to human being in the shake of a whisker.