The Marks Of Life

I’ve had this song going round in my head for days.

In case you missed it, it’s blogger Sophie McCartney’s take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ from a Mum’s perspective; gagging at the smell of baby poo and vomit, dealing with toddler tantrums, wondering where that strange smell is coming from, dealing with fussy toddlers at mealtimes, thanking God for CBeebies. It’s all there.

It was funny the first time, and the second, and the third… And now whenever ‘Shape Of You’ comes on the radio I no longer hear Ed’s original lyrics. Even if I do sing under my breath because I don’t really want the kids singing ‘Smell of Poo’ at the top of their lungs at every opportunity; scatological humour being their very favourite, of course, they’re kids…

Except one refrain keeps jarring with me; “What have you done to my body?”, sung as she wriggles and struggles trying to fit into a pair of jeans.

I can’t blame or credit my kids for my body – it looks pretty much the same as it did before they came along; saggy bits, wobbly bits, stretch marks, flat feet; it all predates them! No blame on their little heads!

Which got me wondering… do some skinny mums resent their kids for what pregnancy has done to their figures? Even if it’s just a tiny tiny bit, buried deep in the subconscious, that’s terribly sad.

Personally, I feel it would be far better to resent society and the beauty industry for suggesting that women should conform to some unrealistic ‘spring back into shape’ notion immediately after childbirth – but it’s hard to argue with the subconscious!? I know the mum in the video is playing for laughs, but as the saying goes ‘ many a true word spoken in jest’.

I’d never considered how the flipside of pressuring new mums to get back into shape, actually subtly implies that the children are to blame; the magazines don’t tend to call it ‘pregnancy weight, but ‘baby weight’, after all and language is a very subtle but powerful manipulator.

I don’t buy magazines, nor seek this sort of thing out online, so I don’t see this on a regular basis, but now I’ve been thinking about it, I’m glad this sort of content doesn’t appeal to me. Certainly, having a quick look before writing this showed just how much judgemental content there is out there for new mums in terms of body image.

When I’d just had my babies, I was blissfully ignorant of any such pressures! In hindsight, being fat and opting out of mainstream media actually seems like a really positive life choice! I just got on with being a new mum, trying to fathom my path through the sleep-deprived, bodily-fluid-covered, chocolate-digestive-fuelled world that is early parenthood; enjoying it and being exhausted by it in roughly equal parts.

At a time of the greatest upheaval and steepest learning curve in their lives, women should be able to just be with and enjoy their babies! But seriously, could this actually affect how women bond with their babies – wasting valuable time and effort trying to get back into the pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, and potentially feeling a sense of failure if they don’t achieve that lauded goal at a time when our hormones are naturally all over the place surely can’t be ideal?

I know I moan at times of the treatment of bigger mums. But actually, in this case I’m glad that my early days as a mum weren’t infected with this kind of poison. I felt no such pressure. Plenty of other pressures around keeping a tiny human alive, but none of this nonsense, and for that I am eternally glad.

For me, pregnancy and childbirth was (and should be!) a time of absolute wonder and amazement at what my not-so-little body was capable of. Well, wonder, amazement and general queasiness, but hey, that means the hormones are all working as they should, right?

Right from the first realisation that carrying a child had suddenly awakened my ‘spidey-senses’ and I was now able to detect the nauseating whiff of a tuna sandwich from half a kilometer away, to feeling the babies wriggling around inside me, to discovering that the dairy had sprung into production surprisingly early (about 20 weeks early!), through to having two awesome, pop-a-pea-out-of-a-pod births, and then feeding them well into toddlerhood, my amazing body did all of that, and I’m bloody proud of it. Wobbly bits and all.

In the Willy Russell play/film Shirley Valentine, the inveterate charmer, Costas talks about Shirley’s stretch marks:

Don’t, don’t be too stupid to try to hide these lines. They, they are lovely, because they are part of you, and you are lovely, so don’t, don’t hide, be proud. Sure. These marks show that, that you are alive, that you survive. Don’t try to hide these lines. They are the marks of life.

Shirley replies – to the audience; “Aren’t men full of shit?”, but do you know, I’m with Costas one hundred percent. Shirley reads too many magazines…

We Are All Worthy

I don’t know anything much about the company producing this video, so please don’t take this as any sort of recommendation, but I do appreciate the sentiments contained within it.

Lots of us have things that we’ve wanted to do, or that we’re passionate about, or that would make us happy, that we don’t do because we’ve told ourselves we couldn’t.

It’s this sort of thinking that holds us back. Not anyone else setting limits on us (and let’s be honest, there’s plenty of that) but us limiting ourselves. Sometimes we are our own biggest critics. 

Cut yourself some slack. You’re worthy too.

P. S.  I’ve been meaning to take up yoga again for a while, so thanks Dana for the reminder.

BBC News – Delay pregnancy after obesity surgery, women warned

Interesting news for anyone considering weight loss surgery before trying get pregnant.

Even though you’ll have lost the weight, you still won’t escape the ‘high risk’ bracket, and will likely receive much of the same treatment that you would if you were still big. Furthermore it seems that a number of things could go wrong, a significantly increased risk of miscarriage being one of them, if you get pregnant within 18 months of the surgery (31% of pregnancies occurring within 18 months of surgery, as opposed to 18% of pregnancies occurring 18months+ after surgery).

BBC News – Delay pregnancy after obesity surgery, women warned.

Comes from this study:

Pregnancy outcome following bariatric surgery (12.1 KiB)

Which looks at different research, some of which compared pregnancies after different types of weight loss surgeries against each other, some against those of obese patients who haven’t undergone surgery, and some against ‘healthy weight’ women.

The text (and sub-text) is quite interesting:

“Case–control studies demonstrate increased fertility following bariatric surgery, although these studies lack complete data and statistical significance due to small sample sizes.”

It would be interesting to see whether this is due to the positive effect of weight loss on Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome in particular, which is known to affect fertility the heavier you are, or whether in general it improved fertility for larger women.

“Post-LAGB [Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding] pregnancies are not without complications. Band slippage and migration can result in severe vomiting. Band leakage is reported in 24% of cases.”

Sounds tempting.

“Mild nutritional deficiencies are frequent after bariatric surgery”.


“Significant malabsorption in the mother can affect the energy content of breast milk and may affect the postnatal growth of the baby”.

The solution given for this is to supplement breast milk with formula. But mixed feeding with both bottle and breast is a significant indicator for stopping breastfeeding sooner.

“Aside from nutritional deficiencies, case reports have documented risks of intestinal hernia (most commonly reported), intestinal obstruction, perforation and death in pregnant women post-RYGB [Roux-en-Y gastric bypass].”

Hmm. Again, tempting.

If you are considering gastric surgery because you were concerned about having a caesarean or induced labour:

“Overall, bariatric surgery does not appear to reduce the risk of CD [caesarean delivery].”


“Another study showed higher labour induction rates as compared with non-obese comparison groups.”

There may also be reasons not to consider certain types of bariatric surgery if planning to get pregnant. One study reported:

“higher congenital malformation rates following BPD [Biliopancreatic diversion].” and


“Miscarriage rates following BPD [Biliopancreatic diversion] may be higher.”


“There is no strong evidence that adverse neonatal outcome rates are higher following  LAGB and gastric bypass procedures as compared with obese groups”.

So reading between the lines, there is evidence that outcomes for babies aren’t as good following surgery, just not strong evidence?

But my personal favourite is:

“maternal and fetal outcomes are acceptable with LAGB and gastric bypass”.

Acceptable? What does that mean?

On the positive side:

“Most studies report a reduced incidence of GDM [gestational diabetes mellitus] in
patients following bariatric surgery.”


“Studies comparing pre- and postbariatric surgery pregnancies consistently show that the incidence of PIH [pregnancy induced hypertension or high blood pressure] and pre-eclampsia is lower following surgically induced weight loss than the risks in obese women.”

The study concludes:

“In light of current evidence available, pregnancy after bariatric surgery is safer, with fewer complications, than pregnancy in morbidly obese women”.

Hmm. I’m struggling to be convinced. 21% of post-surgery pregnancies reported problems according to one study. Though I can’t find a comparable statistic for obese women who have not had weight loss surgery, that doesn’t seem like great odds. Presumably the reduction in serious complications like pre-eclampsia are significant enough for the authors to reach this conclusion.

As always, it’s for you to make up your own mind, but at least here’s some information for you to get started.

We don’t all eat takeaway every night!

“I used to eat ten packets of crisps a day and have a takeaway for dinner every night. I just couldn’t be bothered cooking so we either went out for dinner or ordered in.”

I swear this sort of thing is why bigger women get treated so badly in maternity services.

Are we all like this? Um, no. So please don’t assume we are.