People should talk more about physical recovery after childbirth, not just weight gain, says TV host Ashley James.
The Essex-based DJ, 34, who went through pregnancy, birth and new motherhood during the pandemic, has spoken to FEMAIL about her own experiences with both physical and mental health after giving birth to son Alf River Andrews, who was born in January this year. born. .
The mom-of-one recently launched a clothing line with Tu — the 9 Months In, 9 Months Out Edit — to “support moms through their pregnancy and postpartum travel.”
And in an effort to help other moms out, Ashley, who often presents entertainment news on Good Morning Britain, has been open about some of her own health concerns after having a baby.
She told FEMAIL exclusively: ‘My body has grown and changed so much, not just in the 9 months of pregnancy, but also in the eight months and beyond postnatally.
TV host and DJ Ashley James, 34, has opened up about her journey with pregnancy and early motherhood
She gave birth to baby Alf River Andrews in January this year – just before the country went back to lockdown
While the star says she enjoyed the baby bubble of being at home with her new son, she’s also open about the physical and mental issues of pregnancy and motherhood.
Ashley James’ family has not been able to meet her son Alf River Andrews for several months after his birth because of the lockdown
“I think we assume or expect that our bodies will suddenly go back to what it was – but actually it takes time. Often the conversation revolves around the postnatal body around weight – but it’s actually so much more complex than that.
“I’ve struggled with incontinence and prolapses and all the other glamorous aspects of recovery from childbirth that no one really talks about — it’s hard to feel confident when you’re not sure your body is going to let you down.”
And it’s not just a physical change. According to Ashley, going through a pregnancy and becoming a new mother (especially during the pandemic) also had a psychological impact.
“I think in retrospect, now that I’m 8 months on, I realize how much a new mother in lockdown has affected my mental health,” she said.
“They say that when you become a mother, a new version of yourself is born – and I really felt like I was grieving the old version of myself as I learned to adapt to the new me.
“But at the same time, life had already changed so much in lockdown that the feeling of losing my old self had increased tenfold!”
Despite the struggle to adjust to motherhood, the DJ says she enjoyed the early days with baby Alf.
She said, ‘I didn’t know other than being a pregnant woman and mom — it’s the only experience I have. I really enjoyed it then, because I could spend more time at home.
‘Before the lockdown I was DJing several nights a week and traveling the world, and I was basically tired all the time at the start of my pregnancy, and was so grateful to be home and take a nap. do it when needed.
“I mean, it was hard when I was heavily pregnant and all the public toilets were closed, but it also meant” [her partner] Tommy [Andrews] didn’t work in the office, so he had to help me maneuver a lot more.”
She gave birth a few days after going back into lockdown last January, saying the timing was “definitely more anxious” as she headed toward her due date.
“I was so afraid Tommy wouldn’t be admitted to the hospital,” she said.
Ashley says having a baby has changed her body in multiple ways — and the collection she’s designed for Tu is aimed at giving pregnant women and new mothers more confidence
Wearing clothes that she feels comfortable and confident in is one of the fastest ways to improve her mood, according to Ashley
She enjoyed sharing photos and videos on her social media documenting my pregnancy journey and saying that the support of others helped her too
Ashley gave birth just before the country went into lockdown earlier this year. She says it’s ‘outrageous’ that anyone would be expected to go through labor without a birth partner
‘I actually think it’s outrageous that someone is expected to give birth without a birth partner.’
Going into lockdown with a brand new baby had both negatives and positives, Ashley said.
“It sure was nice to have that time to ourselves to bond with Alf, to heal and recover at home, and again — have Tommy work from home.
“But it was also hard that my family didn’t meet him for three months – they never actually met him as a newborn.
“We missed baby classes and baby swimming and that made the long days at home tough, but I also felt pretty lonely because I didn’t know anyone else who was going through what I was going through.”
She said her main source of help was the support of her online community (she has over 300,000 Instagram followers), saying: “I enjoyed sharing photos and videos on my social media to document my pregnancy journey.
“A recent study by Tu found that 86 percent of women want to share the unfiltered reality of motherhood, which is no surprise because I found when I openly and shared real experiences about the good and bad sides of both body image and motherhood.” – I got really positive feedback.
Dressing during pregnancy was something Ashley found difficult, but she found ways to help with the changes in her body before and after pregnancy
Her biggest tip was to put away all her old clothes that no longer fit and buy new items in the right size that she could feel good in.
“And it also made me realize that I wasn’t alone in my feelings. I think it’s because women can relate and you feel closer together as a community, like you’re going through the journey together.’
One thing she is still working on after giving birth is finding herself again after going through this big life change.
‘I’d say definitely don’t lose yourself, you’re just growing a new part of yourself and it takes time to figure it out, so be kind and patient with yourself,” she said.
“I feel like in life I put almost all the puzzle pieces together before I had a baby and then it’s like suddenly you get 100 extra pieces to fit in. It’s clear that not everything fits anymore, so it’s just figuring out what you want to keep, and what you like to let go of.’
For Ashley, a big part of growing and regaining her confidence was in how she dresses. She said: ‘It’s amazing to me how much putting on a nice outfit and putting on nice underwear can instantly change the way I feel about myself.
She also says it’s about perspective and sees stretch marks and other signs of a baby as ‘something to make you happy’
The new mom also recommends exercising – not to ‘punish’ your body, but to make yourself feel better
That’s what inspired me to make my “The Baby Edit” with Tu. It’s a collection of must-have items for mothers, from pregnancy to early motherhood, and of course items for their babies and newborns.”
Dressing during pregnancy was something she found difficult, but she found ways to help with the changes in her body before and after pregnancy.
“My biggest tip would be to get rid of all your old clothes,” she said. “You don’t have to stare at clothes that don’t fit every day, but you will feel great looking in your wardrobe and seeing clothes that fit you.
“Don’t see exercise as something you should do to punish yourself.
“Your body has been through something amazing, your baby has grown and there may be a few new lines (like stretch marks) or bumps or blemishes, but that’s something to be happy about because it shows what a great job your body is doing.” . did.
‘Move it to feel good! And if you’re struggling with physical changes like stretch marks or scars, just think of them as Mother Nature’s tattoo to celebrate your body having become a baby. I think that’s a nice way to think about it.’
Ashley James’ Tu edit is available at tuclothing.sainsburys.co.uk.