"Snapback" A Mother's Rebirth

Guest Post Written by Celma Ococ

Guest Post Written by Celma Ococ

When a mother gives birth to a baby, she is also reborn.

From the moment we become mothers our lives change forever, and the same goes for our bellies and the muscles inside of us.

One of the most challenging things about being a mother is not looking the same as you did before pregnancy.

After giving birth to my first child nature was super kind to me, I mean, I "snapped" back after four months. I snapped so back that I was the smallest I've ever been! Crazy right? Well, I did get told by my aunties that your muscles are tighter the first time around and therefore it's easier to get back into shape. Either way, I was grateful.

After my second pregnancy the struggle to snap back became very REAL, nothing was shifting. I gave myself more time than the first time around but nothing happened. I just looked pregnant again. From that moment I said goodbye to fitted tops and dresses and instead stuck with anything baggy. My confidence was running low, and I couldn’t understand why I wasn't happy with my body.

Two years later, I was still unhappy about my belly but wanted to keep working out so that I could have the six packs I've always dreamt about. That bubble was quickly popped when I became pregnant with my 3rd baby. Throughout my pregnancy, all I could think about is all the salads and soups I was going to have as soon as the baby was born. I was watching what I was eating on most days while thinking about weight loss postpartum.

My focus was all wrong; I didn't love my body; I was ashamed of it, the way it felt and the way it looked affected me deeply. I would hold my breath and still look bulgy. My low self-esteem affected my confidence to the point where I would hide to get changed even in my own house. If I'm completely honest, a lot of my pressure stemmed from other mothers flaunting their "perfect" snapbacks. It wasn't until I joined social media that I become more aware of my slow progress to snap back. I started to believe that I was lazy even though I was trying really hard. Clothes shopping was a nightmare I just avoided it as much as I could.

After many attempts to lose my mum pouch, I had no choice but to love myself. God was teaching me a lesson. I needed to be grateful for the body he gave me, the body that created three beautiful, healthy babies. I had forgotten that my mum pouch was the result of a miracle. Yes, it looks like an empty carrier bag or deflated balloon but this belly of mine has worked hard.

It didn't sink in that it took me 40 weeks to grow a big bump, 36 hours of contracting pain (long I know) so of course, it's going to take much longer for it to shrink. But one thing I have accepted is that I will never go completely back to that same body because that old body didn't have kids and this one does.

We can't go back to original settings and that’s ok.

It's ok to have a pouch or stretch marks; they are the symbol of our blessings and hard work.

I had three emergency caesareans, yet I expected my body to work twice as hard so that I could have a flatter belly. I was unappreciative because God protected my babies and me in that theatre room. God kept me alive, and well, I was alive to see, hold and feed my babies and yet I was concerned about "snapping back." Don't get me wrong I'm still not completely satisfied with my pouch, but I've changed my mindset. I'm no longer hard on myself; I have eliminated that pressure. I believe that at the right time I will lose my pouch, but for now, I am learning to embrace my body including the stretch marks.

As a mother of two beautiful girls, I have a responsibility to teach them how to love themselves, and it starts with being a positive role model. My confidence is what they will imitate, and therefore I have to portray self-love. In a world where body image is a problem let’s guide our daughters to love themselves before and after giving birth. Let’s also raise our sons to love themselves and embrace their wives/ partners bodies just the way they are.

"God created human beings. He created them godlike, reflecting God's nature." Genesis 1:27

Celma Ococ | DPW Guest Writer

Celma Ococ is a UK-based motherhood and mental health advocate and founder of a community initiative called Time 4 Mums. Learn more here.