Mallory Welch of Maive & Bo on body confidence issues affecting today’s mums
Pregnancy should be a celebratory time, right? Well, for me, the initial excitement of seeing two lines on a pregnancy test wore off quickly as I watched my body seemingly take over and become something I simply couldn’t understand let alone embrace. But low and behold, the start of my business and new career direction would never had occurred had I not been through and dealt with this life-changing experience.
As another woman walks into my shop, on the verge of tears and at a complete loss of how to accept her new figure I’m thrown back to my own pregnancy experiences. Particularly my first.
Along with the expected morning sickness, tiredness, headaches (which are not unusual for any expecting mother), the most shocking change was what was happening to my body.
Look, I obviously know that pregnancy does come with the side affect of growing a human baby in your mid-section but what I didn’t expect was the full-body spread that occurred. I’m talking face, upper arms, thighs, hips, waist (what waist?) and that’s not to mention my dramatic rise in bra cup-sizes… and this was only the first trimester!
How could it be that someone as fit and healthy as me did not look like the maternity models online. Slim figures with a nice neat basketball-sized bump in their midsection – little did I expect at the time these models were not pregnant but in all likelihood had actually shoved a basketball up their dress for the shoot.
When I did try to buy maternity clothes, I quickly realised how expensive they were and out of kilter with my usual wardrobe. They felt matronly, old… and so did I. The experience left me feeling utterly miserable, in no way interested in embracing my body and my self-confidence was taking a hit.
The further into my pregnancy I got, the more I found myself avoiding mirrors, stepping away from cameras. I started to cancel more social occasions and meetings at work. I have very little evidence of my pregnancies (apart from my two kids now 4 and 6) because I simply avoided photos at all costs.
‘In only a few short months, I’d become a shadow of my former self. I was so utterly consumed with embarrassment of my overall appearance.’ According to Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA), one in ten women suffer from a depressive illness during pregnancy and you simply need to look around your current group of friends or on social media so hear the self-degrading comments pregnant women slam themselves with on a daily basis.
Towards the end of my second pregnancy, I’d had enough. Lord we all went through this body confidence thing in our teens, it was time to move on. I was angry and then I started to think more practically about the situation. My body is going to do what it needs to do to create this baby but how can I, and other expecting mums, feel better about ourselves in the process?
So I started drawing clothes. Studying the lines that complemented a pregnant woman’s figure such as a tie under the bust to show off the narrowest part of her torso, soft sleeves that covered her upper arms and feminine soft flowing fabrics to reflect this womanly time of her life. It wasn’t full blown solution or body transplant, but it was a good first step to helping her feel a little more like herself.
‘And so-in my business began, my ambition fuelled by each DM I received from customers thanking me for helping them feel beautiful again.’ For our generation with a significant emphasis on looking and dressing a particular way, pregnancy can be a right shock. I know I haven’t solved all of life’s problems by starting this business and certainly not the deeper decision within ourselves to allow ourselves to accept and embrace our figures. But through my business and my own interactions with new and expecting mums I will always, always be passionate about finding ways for women to accept themselves during and after pregnancy in any way that I can.
Mallory Welch is a doting mum to two kids (4) and (6). She is also the Director of Brisbane-based Maternity Brand Maive & Bo. Maive & Bo are proud supporters of PANDA and have committed to only using pregnant models for their product and brand images, reflecting a more realistic view of her maternity clothing.
Find out more about Maive & Bo here