She trained throughout both her pregnancies and put on 20kgs each time (weight gain she credits largely to Tim Tams). “I really didn’t enjoy the experience,” she said. “I hear about women who love being pregnant, they glow and say they feel wonderful – that wasn’t me. At all.”
Name: Jen Dugard
Children: Marley 8, and India 6.
Today Jen is focused on helping women to have a healthier mental, emotional and physical approach to their bodies through her business Body Beyond Baby.
I think we have this vision of our tummies just going straight back into place after the baby is out – and then it doesn’t.
I felt big and uncomfortable for quite a long time. I remember trying to go for a run for the first time after having my son and my chest bouncing up and down was so painful. As someone who has pretty much always been into movement, feeling restricted in this way was at times quite frustrating.
I’m very lucky that I don’t have lots of stretch marks – although I do have a not so attractive varicose vein.
It runs up the back of my leg. It bothered me for a while but now I just think “f%8k it!” – I won’t get it fixed just yet. I love to exercise and the time I would have to take off from exercise versus living with it isn’t worth it for me at this point in time – maybe in a few years!
My tummy will never be the same.
My skin is more wrinkled than it used to be, and no matter how hard I train and eat well, it will now always have that crepe paper look when I bend over. Some days it bothers and frustrates me but more and more, the older I get, the more comfortable I am in my skin with war wounds and all. I’m not 18 or 25 anymore and I’m finally becoming okay with that.
I suffered post natal depression after my second baby
But I think through every step of my post baby journey, both physically and emotionally, and especially through the hard times, I’ve always had this feeling deep inside that this isn’t it. That the tough times won’t last. That my body will again change just like it did to grow my babies. And, if I treat it the best way I can through healthy eating, regular exercise and movement, I would find a place of peace.
I’m learning not to beat myself up so much.
I remember a moment a few months after having Marley, when I was trying on some pre-baby singlets for a night out. I remembered that I had beaten myself up about ‘not looking right’ or ‘not being good enough’ in them before I had Marley. Now they were skin tight – boobs bursting out and all! That was a key moment to me to remember that if and when I ever got back into those clothes, or others, to love my body and to stop beating myself up.
Just because I am not still carrying weight and I don’t have visible stretch marks, it doesn’t mean I’m ‘perfect’.
Fit – yes, Perfect – absolutely not. I may have lost the baby weight and worked my way back up to a good fitness level but if I tune into specific body issues then yes, I would be consumed by them. Do I let them control me now? No. And being now almost closer to 40 I am really proud to be an example of a woman who is invested in her body for her job, for herself and as an example to my children and the women I work with.
I’m careful about the way my photos are edited.
Recently a photographer friend of mine asked me to do a photoshoot and one of the most important conversations was where we drew the line in post-production touch ups and editing. We agreed to smooth out a little skin tone here and there but not to make any changes at all in terms of skin tucks, rolls and imperfections. This was a big stepping stone for me knowing that other women would see the images, and I truly wanted to stand in a space of celebrating our bodies rather than editing according to whatever society has told us is beautiful or should be shown.
I try to instil in my clients the idea that we are all on our own journey.
That we each have a different background, each pregnancy is different, each birth is different and each postnatal experience is different. Comparing ourselves to others serves no purpose and only adds pressure to what we think we should be living up to.
I believe that, if approached in the right way, being pregnant can teach a woman to love her body.
A lot of women have unhealthy eating habits in their teens, twenties and thirties (depending on when they have their babies) – they over exercise and under eat. I believe that being pregnant is one of the most socially acceptable ways for a woman to put on weight. Then, if she is educated and aware she can lose the weight gradually, re-set her metabolism, and re-build her body from the inside out safely and effectively to set her up for a life where she is no longer body-obsessed but body-proud. Where she starts to love the way her body looks in the mirror and the things it enables her to do on a daily basis. And to top it off, she sets a great example for her children.
I get my clients to focus on what they want to experience in life and the level of fitness they want to get to – rather than how they want to look.
The reality of it is that very few of us are super models or training for the Olympics. We like to enjoy life, and food, and we want to look and feel healthy, and be able to move. I’ll talk to my clients about how they want to live day to day – what they enjoy and what is most important to them. Taking a moment to remember this and to again release the unrealistic images or pressure we create for ourselves can be a hugely valuable shift.
I wish that all the pre-baby women would love their bodies much more than they do, but even more so I truly hope that every woman that has a baby can find the self love for herself both inside and out that she deserves.
The Carousel would like to thank Ilona Marchetta for her article.