"I am a mother. I am tired, broken and sore. I have lumps, bumps, marks and jiggly bits." Those are the words of New Zealand nutritionist Julie Bhosale, whose blog brought a much-needed reality check to postpartum body expectations
In our culture, so much focus is placed on getting your pre-baby bod back as quickly and effortlessly as possible, as though those epic nine months never wreaked havoc on our physiques.
"For most of us, [through pregnancy] our bodies change, and change a lot. It is scary, it is hard, it can be down right disgusting and upsetting but it is real and normal," wrote Bhosale in her blog post My Real Postpartum Body.
As part of the #takebackpostpartum movement, Bhosale also revealed images of her body up to 14 weeks after giving birth, in order to give fellow moms-to-be a postpartum body reality check.
What's most telling is the image of her at 37 weeks pregnant next to one taken 24 hours after giving birth.
The baby was out, and yet the bump remained basically unchanged.
Her stomach hadn't magically deflated like some hot air balloon, and still felt - as Bhosale described it - like having "a watermelon (or two) inside you."
Even two weeks on, though her stomach had started to shrink, Bhosale's body was still beset by a host of postpartum "happenings."
If only a blog like Bhosale's had been around when I was pregnant... I was so immersed in preparing for the baby and for the actual birth, I gave little to no thought about how pregnancy and labour would affect my body in the weeks and months to follow.
Contrary to what we're led to believe, 'bouncing back' after childbirth isn't simply about squeezing back into a pair of favourite jeans.
When my baby was born, I rode a superwoman high. In the haze of pride about what my body had achieved, I was left totally unprepared for a recovery process that took a full year.
"You may not look like the next Victoria's Secret Underwear model," wrote Bhosale, "but focus on how you feel. Nourish and love from the inside out and do not forget: You are beautiful, you are amazing, you are a mother."