After giving birth to her first child, Julie Bhosale felt bombarded by unrealistic images showing other new mothers bouncing back into shape on social media. “I really struggled,” she confesses. “Postnatal depression was knocking on the door.”
So when it came to becoming a mum for a second time, the Auckland nutritionist decided to break down those ideals by sharing pictures of her baby body online – lumps, bumps and all.
Almost overnight, Julie became an online sensation. More than 200,000 people viewed her blog, the New Mum’s Nutritionist, in the first 24 hours. Within a few weeks of posting, the entry was being shared by celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Zooey Deschanel, as well as featuring in publications such as the Daily Mail and the Huffington Post.
Now her site has had over two million views, Julie – mother to sons Arjun, two, and Sahan, eight months – has stopped counting how many people have seen her mummy tummy, but she says it’s well beyond her wildest dreams.
“It was nerve-racking, putting myself out there to be judged like that, but I thought if I could save one woman feeling so down about themselves, then that would be worth it. For me, it was more about the words that went with the photos. I wanted to tell new mums that they’re amazing, beautiful and incredibly strong.”
Julie even came up with her own word to describe the early stages of motherhood – “brutiful”. She explains, “It’s brutal and beautiful. Everyone talks about the beautiful things, but not much is said about the hard parts and, man, are there some hard parts!”
Julie, 30, has worked in the wellbeing and fitness industry for 14 years, with a special interest in women’s health.
“I’ve always been really healthy, driven and positive,” she tells, “and I’m educated in this area, so I thought I was mentally prepared for all the changes. But as I’ve found, nothing can prepare you for them.” Julie wasn’t prepared for her story to “break the internet”, she laughs. “Now it’s got this whole life of its own, which is absolutely crazy – and it hasn’t stopped. All these different posts have thousands and thousands of likes. I can’t keep up! It’s insane.”
Julie hasn’t had much time to bask in her newfound online fame, though, as she juggles motherhood, managing her website and blog, seeing clients and teaching, with heading up the education department at Fit College and writing her doctoral thesis. “You could say I have quite a lot on my plate right now,” she laughs, “but what mum doesn’t?!”
Julie went back to work soon after the birth of her sons, who both go to daycare, and credits that with keeping her sane.
“I love my children and I would do anything for them, but I don’t love being a mum 24/7,” she says. “That is the raw truth. My work gives me a sense of self and a sense of achievement. I’m a better mum when I’m doing other things. We’re all different and I take my hat off to mums who decide to stay home with their babies full-time, but it’s not for me.”
Julie’s hubby Vijay, 26, who works in the police force, couldn’t be prouder of his wife of four years. He beams, “It’s so awesome to see Julie stand up for something she’s passionate about. She put herself out there to be judged and that’s not easy.”
Julie hopes she’s setting an example for her boys, so they will grow up to be sympathetic if their future partners want to be working mums. “I’m so lucky to have a supportive husband,” she says. “I want to have a career and to finish my PhD so I can make a difference to others. I want to be the best mum I can be to my two boys and be a wife too.”
The feedback she receives daily from her popular posts is proof Julie is well on her way to making a difference in the world. “I’d thought that if only one woman saw it and felt better about herself, then that would be worth it,” Julie reflects. “So the fact that it’s made such a big impact is awesome.”