As a child, I thought I knew exactly what a "post-baby body" looked like.
My mum had a lot of loose skin after having my sister and, two years later, having me. She had stretch marks all around her belly button and an overhang of skin that didn't "snap back" after her bump had gone. She never hid her body from me or my sister and she never seemed ashamed of it or tried to cover it up. She didn't hide it from my dad either and he wasn't fazed by it ("Well she had two babies of course she wasn't going to look the same," he told me). It just didn't concern her. That was her body now. That was her post-baby body.
I asked my mum how she felt about her body after having a baby: "It was the last thing on my mind", she told me. "I was too focused on my babies to care about having stretch marks". My mum struggled to fall pregnant with my older sister and had to go through fertility treatment, so the fact her body had produced two little humans was enough for her. The stretch marks, the loose skin, none of that mattered because she had her babies.
Fast forward several years and I realised that a "post-baby body" didn't always look the same. I saw celebs on social media or papped on the MailOnline who had "snapped back to their pre-baby body within three weeks" and it even got me (a non-parent) thinking: 'How the hell do they look like that already? Will my body look like that after I give birth if I have kids? Have they had to work out every day to get that body? Have they used some special serum to not get stretch marks?'
The thing is, my mum wasn't as easily exposed to all of that because social media and the internet weren't around when she had babies. While we might see pictures of celebrities three weeks post-birth at the click of a button, it wasn't that accessible for her.
She was never ashamed of her post-baby body, because she had less of an opportunity to constantly compare it to someone else's. When she did it was probably her mum friends anyway, so she saw a variety of shapes and sizes as being the 'norm'. She didn't have that one ideal of perfection that so many mums seem to have these days. She was content.
Now I'm not a parent and I don't have a post-baby body, but I do see the number of parenting stories that get printed on a daily basis that have the underlying assumption it's a good thing to snap back into your pre-baby body just months after you've birthed a baby. And it doesn't take a genius to work out that the reason so many mums lack confidence about their bodies is because they don't look like the mum they've seen in the media wearing a bikini with a three-month-old on her hip. They feel like they have to hide behind their clothes and are alone in the fact that they don't like what's underneath.
But here's the really simple fact: All mums' bodies are different. And that's okay. In fact, it's more than okay. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a "post-baby body" and it's absurd that even we as a society have started to use this phrase with the assumption it's "different" or "worse" than the body you had before you gave birth.
Society and the media are making mums feel as if they're failing if they're not back in those pre-baby jeans and don't have their perfectly sculpted stomach back within six weeks of giving birth. And that's probably why so many women end up hating their bodies, because they're constantly reminded that they don't look the way they used to.
But it doesn't stop there: While there are mums who feel shamed for putting on weight, there are also mums who are criticised for being "too skinny". The more women talk about their bodies after having a baby and the more they realise there isn't one "norm", the less likely they will feel alone in their insecurities.
(And can we just go back to the fact that their bodies - the ones that may have stretch marks or may have changed shape since pre-mum days - are flipping amazing. They created, grew and birthed babies.)
At HuffPost UK Parents, we share realistic portrayals of mums and their bodies to show there isn't one type of beauty when it comes to how they look. We make the discourse and the way we talk about a "mumbod" positive. We make all mums feel welcome.
And so that's why we want mums to speak up. We want to give a platform to women to show others that their bodies are amazing. We want to remind others that everyone's bumps, bodies, bellies and boobs are different, and that's completely okay.
That's exactly what our new section Mumbod is about: a place to embrace mums' bodies, from pregnancy to post-baby and all the other changes your body goes through. We're kicking off with a week full of features, blogs and videos on Mumbod, including a blog from Stacey Solomon on how she feels about her body after having her two boys.
Mums, your bodies are amazing. Own them.
HuffPost UK Parents is running a week-long focus on 'Mumbod' to empower mums and mums-to-be to feel confident about their bodies pre- and post-baby. As we launch a section on the site that focuses on all aspects of mums' bodies and highlights the amazing things their bodies are capable of. We'd also love to hear your stories. To blog for Mumbod, email email@example.com. To keep up to date with features, blogs and videos on the topic, follow the hashtag #MyMumbod.