Heidi Hawkins, mother and voice-over actor

"There's been so much stuff in the media lately about mothers feeling like they need to cover up while they're breastfeeding in public because it makes other people feel uncomfortable. That makes me so angry. I'm literally sustaining the life of my child."


Pregnancy was the most intense experience of my life. I started gaining weight very quickly, and when I saw my body changing it was scary. There’s pressure on women to keep their figure even while pregnant, which is absolutely ridiculous. I would take a picture and post it on Facebook and people would say, “You’re really gaining weight in all the right places,” or someone would tell me, “You can eat anything you want because you’re pregnant and already fat.” That really bugged me.

When it came time to give birth, my modesty went out the window. The idea of looking hot or sexy or pretty became the least of my concerns. I was in labour for three days, and it ended in an emergency C-section. A lot of women are ashamed of C-section scars and want to cover them up, but I’m proud of mine. Had I not had the surgery, my son wouldn’t be here, so whenever I look at it, I think, “I did it. I survived that.” 

As a new mom, I’ve thought a lot about breastfeeding. There’s been so much stuff in the media lately about mothers feeling like they need to cover up while they’re breastfeeding in public because it makes other people feel uncomfortable. That makes me so angry. I’m literally sustaining the life of my child. I’m not trying to turn you on or upset you. I never cover up when I breastfeed, but there have definitely been times when I’ve gotten looks or when my husband has had to stand beside me. 

I wish, before I had a baby, I’d been more aware of how my body would change and how it was going to make me feel. All you hear about is “bouncing back.” In magazines you see a lot of retouched photos of people after they have kids, and it gives women a really unrealistic idea of what you’re going to look like after you give birth. 

My body is completely different. I don’t have time to work out or shave my legs. I don’t really have time to take care of myself, but I think I’m like 90 per cent of women who had babies in the last couple of years. I now have cellulite, a stretchy belly and lopsided breasts from breastfeeding, but I’m proud of it in a strange way.

I want women, mothers especially, to accept themselves and to know that our bodies are amazing. I want women to not worry what other people think. All that matters is we’re healthy enough to take care of ourselves and our children. What women have to go through in order to bring a child into this world is the hugest thing. We are strong and we can deal with a lot of pain and discomfort, and our strength is so important.


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See last year’s Body Issue here.

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