I've lost count of the number I've times in recent weeks that I've read posts by mums on social media about why I should love my mummy tummy.
Here's the thing. I don't love mine. I don't even think we're *supposed* to love them, and such talk can put pressure on those of us who don't exactly adore our post-baby bodies.
It's a bold, empowering, admirable thing to make your peace with your body post-baby. Proclaiming to love your mum tum is one in the eye for the endless objectification and body-shaming that the world subjects us to. And that's great – good body image is obviously never a bad thing.
If you *don't* feel brilliant about your belly after giving birth, it can feel as though you're in some way letting down the sisterhood. (Yeah, yeah, I get that no-one can 'make' me feel anything and that I am ultimately responsible for my own feelings. Not really true, though.)
Because every time I see a mum proudly clutching her postpartum spare tyre or declaring that she loves her stretch marks because they're battle scars that display the amazing accomplishments of her body, I feel a tiny bit despairing.
I'm not saying you shouldn't love your mum tum and if you want to make that statement loud and proud on social media then good for you – I really mean that.
But spare a thought for those of us who, for whatever reasons, are never going to feel that way about ourselves. It could be due to an eating disorder, a stillbirth, an emergency caesarean or a traumatic delivery – the details barely matter but my point is that it's also ok *not* to love your post-baby body.
It's ok to feel quietly mortified when you notice that your mum tum makes contact with a part of the mattress that the rest of you doesn't when you lie on your side in bed at night. It's ok that you're a little bit sad that there are some clothes you'll never wear again because they cling too tightly to the lumpy bits that you never had to worry about before. And it's ok to frankly feel a tad dismayed that your body looks like it's been to hell and back and will never quite be the same again.
That said, I love Rebekah Vardy's recent post-pregnancy shoot which she used to speak out against the pressure put on mums to spring back into shape, and urged new mums to remember that perfection isn't real and imperfection is beautiful.
She's right, but that doesn't mean I have to love the "wrinkly skin, stretch marks and deflated once perky boobs" that motherhood has left me with - yes, I can learn to live with them and be grateful for a body that could conceive and bear a child.
But you don't have to 'love' what you see in the mirror in order to accept it. On the spectrum of how you feel about your baby after giving birth, there isn't just 'self-loathing' and 'loving my mum tum' – there are a million other possible ways to feel. You can feel a little grumpy about it – that doesn't make you a monster or the vainest mum to walk the earth.
Obviously I'm not saying self-loathing is ok – if you feel really repulsed by your reflection then please, seek help in coming to terms with what you see. But don't hide way feeling like you're a freak because you don't much fancy Instagramming your extra inches or sharing your stretch marks all over Facebook, either.
In the end, we all deal with our post-baby bodies in our own way, but there shouldn't be pressure on us to love them – that's as much a heavy burden for some as the pressure to 'get your body back' after giving birth that started this mum tum loving in the first place.
So please, world, stop telling me to love my mum tum. I'm reserving all my loving for the little lives whose creation completely upended me – body, mind and soul. That doesn't mean I cherish them any less than the mum who adores her post-baby imperfections.
Do I have to 'love' that irritating wrinkle that has appeared between the bridge of my nose and my eyebrow, too? Of course not. Now I'm not about to put a paper bag over my head because of it, but it is ok to tolerate things about your appearance without feeling like you also have to be proud of them. I'm proud of my babies. The saggy belly they vacated is just the price I paid to get them – and it was so, so worth it.