When a baby is born, each day is a milestone: their first smile, first tooth, first steps. And now TV star Millie Mackintosh has created another — the ‘nine months in, nine months out’ benchmark. After she posed with her daughter Sienna on Instagram, other first-time mums also began posting snaps of themselves nine months pregnant next to a picture of their nine-month-old baby. Here, four of them speak to TANITH CAREY about their hang-ups and pride about their new bodies…
Molly Ruane, 24, runs a care home business in Sittingbourne, Kent. She and partner Dan, 24, a decorator, are parents to daughter Mia
I ballooned, but I’m proud to be a mum
Molly Ruane, 24, runs a care home business in Sittingbourne, Kent. She and partner Dan, 24, a decorator, are parents to daughter Mia. She says:
I still look back fondly on a picture of myself in a bikini in
Mia was such a wanted baby because when I was 20 I was told it would be difficult for me to have children. It seemed my eggs were not maturing, so not being released each month.
I was prescribed medication to adjust my hormone levels, but the first three times I conceived I had very early miscarriages. After months of scans and blood tests, my pregnancy with Mia developed well and I was delighted.
But it was a shock when, five months in, my face, belly and legs ballooned. My body felt as if it suddenly belonged to my baby, not me.
By the end of my pregnancy, I’d gone from 9 st to 14 st. My bump was so big, Dan had to help me out of the bath.
Molly Ruane, pictured left, nine months into her pregnancy and pictured right, nine months out of it, with baby Mia
The difference in the way I dress is just one of the ways my sense of self has changed. Before I gave birth, I didn’t care if Dan came in when I was changing; now I lock the bathroom door so I can have privacy.
He tells me: ‘You’ve got a new body. Just embrace it. You look beautiful.’
My confidence is slowly starting to return, even if some days there’s still a self-critical voice telling me I’m overweight.
Despite these feelings, the pictures of Millie helped me feel proud of what I’d achieved as a new mum. When I was having my picture taken for this shoot, I also felt it didn’t matter how I looked as long as I had Mia in my arms.
Music manager Claire Reilly, 34, lives in East Preston, West Sussex, with her partner Ashley, 35, a printer. They are parents to son Rupert
A size 8… but I’ve lost my perky bum!
Music manager Claire Reilly, 34, lives in East Preston, West Sussex, with her partner Ashley, 35, a printer. They are parents to son Rupert. She says:
I had the sort of bump that was so out in front you couldn’t tell from behind if I was carrying a baby. I didn’t put on a lot of extra weight, just Rupert and the placenta.
During birth, it’s amazing how your dignity goes out the window and several people see you naked. But it’s natural, no one’s judging, they’ve seen it all before. I lost all my inhibitions completely.
In the week after Rupert was born, I was amazed by how quickly my bump went down. But my tummy is now sort of soft and flabby and I can wobble it, because the skin’s been so stretched.
I’ve always fluctuated between 8 and 8½st. I’m back at that weight as I have a fast metabolism, but this time my body is different. I can still fit into my old size 8 clothes but not as comfortably.
My jeans used to slide on, but now the button will just about do up, and after an hour I’m keen to get them off. Another thing that has changed is my bum. A few months after the birth, my mum said: ‘Where’s your perky bottom gone? My boyfriend agreed it’s not as peachy as it once was.
Claire Reilly, pictured left, nine months into her pregnancy and pictured right, nine months out of it, with baby Rupert
For most of Rupert’s life, we’ve been in lockdown not seeing anyone, so I didn’t really care how I looked, but now he has turned nine months, it feels like a turning point. He’s less dependent on me and I am thinking about my body as separate from my child’s again. But I am full of respect for my body and what it’s been through. I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks shortly before we conceived Rupert.
It was painful and difficult, because I was alone when it happened, but the way my body took over the process, both then and during the birth, made me connect to it more and the power it had to create life.
I also know from friends how hard it can be to get pregnant or keep a baby, so I am not going to moan about my body — I see it as something capable of performing a miracle.
Katie Tang, 33, runs a restaurant with her husband Bon, 33, in Cambridge. They have a son called Kobe
My stretch marks are tiger stripes
Katie Tang, 33, runs a restaurant with her husband Bon, 33, in Cambridge. They have a son called Kobe. She says:
Bon and I have always been into exercise. In fact, I first told him I was pregnant in the gym.
We used to work out together with friends at lunchtime — I did my pregnancy test in the gym toilet. I came out, gave him a nod and joined him on the next step machine. We wanted to keep it a secret, as it was still early days. At the end of the day we gave each other a celebration hug.
Over the years, my relationship with my body has been up and down. I like my legs, but I always felt my tummy was a problem — I love sugary things. I’m quite short, at 5ft 2in, and have a big chest, so I made an effort to keep to a size 8.
When I was pregnant, it was a lovely change to see my tummy sticking out as a sign I was growing a baby.
Kobe’s birth was quick and natural, and I only needed a few stitches.
It was only when Bon could bottle-feed Kobe at about two-and-a-half months that I really looked at myself in the mirror.
I noticed how many stretch marks I had under my belly.
But I wasn’t upset. I remember another mum online describe them as tiger stripes, so I am proud of my stretch marks, too.
Katie Tang, pictured left, nine months into her pregnancy and pictured right, nine months out of it, with baby Kobe
My body has become a bit more square, possibly from my ribs and abs opening to accommodate my bump. I now also have muscles in my arms from lifting Kobe so much. I want to get fit again to be a healthy mum.
Even over the past year, there’s been a shift in the way new mums think of themselves. On social media, I follow those who are honest about their bodies rather than the ones always posting postpartum fitness routines.
I thought Millie’s picture was wonderful. I loved seeing how she’s gone from big bump to an amazing little human being in her arms in under a year. Now Kobe is becoming so much fun and interactive, that’s how I feel. Some stretch marks are a small price to pay.
Lottie Waters, 32, is an art teacher from Crewe, Cheshire. She and her husband James, 31, a bar manager, are parents to Oliver
The extra pounds don’t bother me
Lottie Waters, 32, is an art teacher from Crewe, Cheshire. She and her husband James, 31, a bar manager, are parents to Oliver. She says:
In the six months before my wedding in August 2019, I went running four times a week and lost 2½st. I was thrilled to get my princess-style wedding dress taken down to size 10.
James and I have been together for ten years and always planned to start a family right away, but even so it was a shock to find out I was pregnant a month after the wedding.
I was delighted, but it did cross my mind how much my body would change after I’d worked so hard.
As my bump grew, I found it liberating not to have to worry about counting calories. By the end of my pregnancy, my bump was so enormous, people were asking me how many babies I had in there.
The first few weeks after the birth, I was so amazed I’d had a baby, I hardly even looked at myself. My tummy was still very big though and my feet and ankles swelled up so much I could hardly squeeze into flip-flops. Gradually the bump went down, but it feels like my waist and ribcage has expanded a few inches to make room for Oliver, and I don’t think those will go back to the way they were.
Lottie Waters, pictured left, nine months into her pregnancy and pictured right, nine months out of it, with baby Oliver
Before I was pregnant, I never carried weight on my stomach. Now I have a pillowy Mum-tum. My whole body feels softer and rounder. Over Zoom calls, older relatives have asked: ‘Have you lost the baby weight yet?’ I tell them not to be so cheeky! Being pregnant doesn’t make my body public property.
I’ve even put the scales away because I’m not even going to look at them. I’m now around a size 12/14 and would like to go back to a size 10, but there are times when I look at my wedding dress and can’t imagine ever getting back into it.
When I go back to work in a few weeks, I’ll be wearing loose and flowing dresses rather than the old shift dresses I used to wear.
I’m just so proud that I’ve produced such a gorgeous little boy that — for now — a few extra pounds really don’t bother me.
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