Like Chloe Madeley, I know it can be impossible to feel sexy as a new mum

Looking at Chloe Madeley’s toned, taut tummy, most people would say she had the perfect post-partum body. 

It honestly looked like she wasn’t post-partum at all which, given the picture was taken just three weeks after she gave birth, is pretty incredible.

Not only has her baby bump completely vanished, as the Instagram snap of her in crop top and knickers illustrates perfectly, but her legs and arms look amazing – her hair is swishy and there is no sign of an excess pound on her.

Yet, underneath the photo, which she posted just this week, she wrote some heartbreakingly honest words, saying she ‘can’t ever imagine feeling sexy again’.

I think every new mum knows exactly how she is feeling. I certainly do. I remember those early days of motherhood, when I had my first-born, Theo, and feeling like my body had become a totally alien place to me.

While it was amazing that it had grown and birthed a baby, it was no longer the place where I had once felt confident and self-assured.

Even now, nearly five years on, I still struggle to feel sexy in it.

Having had her daughter just six weeks ago, Chloe is still very much recovering from the physical process of giving birth, especially having had a c-section. 

She mentions the ‘bleeding and breast leakage’ and the fact that her ‘incision has finally stopped aching (who knew that’d take so long?)’.

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I also had a caesarean – actually two – and believe me, Chloe, it takes far longer than six weeks for the wound to stop hurting. I remember my handbag knocking into my scar months after giving birth and still wincing.

In those days, feeling sexy was the last thing on my mind, as I waddled about with maternity pads stuck firmly to my knickers, while my husband Tom had to inject my stomach every day. 

I focused instead on breastfeeding, a struggle I eventually had to give up on and ended up expressing for hours on end. 

It was a cause for celebration if I managed to fit in a shower before lunch, as I slowly worked out my baby’s routine.

But even when my body had begun to physically recover, I still wasn’t feeling my best. Unlike Chloe, my body didn’t snap back into its previous shape by any stretch of the imagination. It still hasn’t – and I still haven’t quite accepted it and its new curves.

I tried taking pictures of myself in my underwear, in an effort to motivate myself to lose the last half-stone of baby weight that stubbornly refused to drop off. But I struggled to find the time – and energy.  

So I stopped taking the pictures or even looking in a full-length mirror. I just didn’t want to see the new me. I could never have imagined sharing my pictures with anyone, let alone the 266,000 followers Chloe did.

And how I looked was just the start of it. Because, of course, feeling sexy is about more than just appearances – as Chloe’s picture proves.

Sexiness is a feeling, a state of mind – one I lost for years. 

While I adored cuddles with my baby, I’d feel ‘touched out’ by the end of the day, desperate for my body to be my own again once he’d gone to bed for the night. 

All I wanted was to enjoy my personal space for an hour or two before he woke up again, not invite my husband into it.

Plus, I was too exhausted to feel sexy. Once I was back at work, the constant juggle of pick-ups, drop-offs, train times and desperately keeping one anxious eye on the clock, trying to determine when it was acceptable to leave the office, meant the mental toll became as hard as the physical one.

And then, of course, I fell pregnant with Immy, starting the whole process again.

Now, Theo is four and Immy is two, and only now would I say I’m slowly regaining my sense of sexiness.

This year, I’ve ran every day and, although I haven’t lost any weight (seriously, it seems scientifically impossible), I look better for the regular exercise. And more importantly, I feel better for it. 

I feel better after getting out in the fresh air and for carving some time out of the day, just for myself. It’s really helped my mental health, setting myself a target and, every day, hitting it.

Recently, I went shopping for new matching underwear. Nothing too exotic, but as I got fitted for a bra for the first time in years and spent time examining the various styles, I felt a spark inside myself. A spark that said maybe, just maybe, I was back.

So please, Chloe, and all new mums, hang in there. You will feel sexy again. It just takes time.

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