During my first lovely very-bump-sticking-out-there-pregnancy I was under the impression that although I would put on weight, I would pretty much go back to normal straight after. I didn't really know anyone who was already a parent and so post-pregnancy I expected my body would be the only thing that wouldn't have changed so drastically.
But of course it changed as drastically as life did. I had an emergency c-section with Fizz and being a size 14 (overweight for my height) I was left with an overhang. It took me quite a long time to get over how my body had changed. It depressed me to look at and I just hated the thought of not being able to get rid of it without surgery.
It was a conscious decision after a very honest discussion with my husband that I needed to change the way I thought about my body. I started running three times a week and working out with a trainer once every few weeks to keep me on track, so by the time I fell pregnant again I felt a lot better about my body. In fact I think in many ways my second pregnancy saved me from falling into body self-loathing.
At 24 weeks I went into hospital with my first bleed, every other week or so I was admitted for further bleeds and my son was born 4 weeks early (although he briefly attempted to be 5 weeks early). When he was in my not-so-rounded tummy he taught me so much.
His bump never really pinged out - although if you look at the photos they tell a different story. I was honest enough to post a bump shot with my trousers lowered under the overhang to show everyone that this is what my body really looked like during my second pregnancy.
You know what? I was proud. I was proud to show off a bump that was mine, that had grown one baby and was trying to keep another safely tucked up. After every discharge I felt relief that my body was doing the right thing and keeping my boy in until he was ready. It felt miraculous in a way.
And this is why I now refuse to feel ashamed of my postnatal body. It's not perfect, it may not spring back, but it's given me two healthy babies and hopefully a third. For that, this overhang/baby hammock needs to applauded. By me, and by you.
This post was written for BabyCentre UK by Chelle McCann. Chelle is 12 weeks pregnant with her third child. To read more blog posts by Chelle and see more pictures of her and her family visit BabyCentre. To read more from all the parenting bloggers at BabyCentre visit the site.Suggest a correction