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Thursday 16 August 2018

Niamh Greene: Ignore the Heidi Klum's of this world and let mums embrace their tracksuits

Heidi Klum
Heidi Klum

Having a baby can be a shock to your system. You're thrilled, naturally. But you're also exhausted, emotional and more than a little terrified.

You wonder if you'll ever sleep again. You worry that you're losing touch with the real world or boring people to death with cute baby pictures. Meanwhile, you're living in your tracksuit bottoms.

Then you see a celebrity mother on the cover of a glossy magazine. She doesn't have enormous bags under her eyes or a jelly belly.

No, her skin is glowing and her tummy is taut. She claims she hasn't done anything to lose the baby weight - it just magically fell off when she wasn't looking.

It doesn't matter that you suspect she secretly has a crack team of round-the-clock nannies to look after junior when she works out with her personal trainer, or a chef to whip up low-calorie meals while she naps - you still feel like a big, fat failure for not looking like that too.

If that's you, take heart because you're certainly not alone.

A new study by parenting website wauwaa.com polled 1,500 women who'd had a baby the previous year and discovered that 40pc of them felt pressure to lose weight quickly after giving birth, precisely because of those celebrity mum pictures.

It also found that most of the regular mums surveyed hadn't the time or the energy to put a weight-loss scheme in place - they were too busy struggling to keep their heads above water. That's the thing about having a baby - it turns your world upside down.

For the first while at least, you're generally just trying to make it through the day in one piece. You don't have time to worry about what you look like.

According to the survey, 69pc of new mums felt like nothing more than a feeding machine during the first few months, and 63pc said they let themselves go, failing to take care of their hair, make-up or clothes. That can't come as a surprise to anyone, surely?

I know when my children were tiny, I couldn't have cared less what I looked like.

I was still in my maternity jeans months after each birth.

If I left the house with my hair brushed, wearing something that didn't have baby sick down the front, then I was doing well.

That just wouldn't happen with a celebrity mum because behind closed doors she has people making sure she looks impeccably groomed before she steps outside.

I do think that being a mum in the public eye must bring its own pressure, though.

I felt strangely sorry for Kim Kardashian when she had baby North, for example.

She hid away for weeks afterwards, probably because she knew she'd be criticised for not losing her baby weight fast enough, just like she was criticised for allegedly putting on too much when she was pregnant.

How disgraceful that some people think it's OK to judge a woman's puffy ankles or even the size and shape of her baby bump.

CATWALK

Putting on weight when you're pregnant is normal. Strutting down the catwalk in a skimpy bikini six weeks after delivery - like supermodel Heidi Klum did - isn't.

Fair dues to Heidi, if you've got it, flaunt it. But most of us aren't built that way and we don't need to feel bad about it.

Motherhood comes with enough guilt, so the last thing we need to do is invent more to torture ourselves with. Really, the old-fashioned advice is still the best. It takes nine months to put on baby weight so it will take at least nine months to get it off.

Instead of worrying about it, try to enjoy the roller-coaster ride that is new parenthood, forget about the skinny jeans and give yourself a break.

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