Having babies has given birth to a self-esteem revolution for Kiwi mums who are embracing the curves that gave them their children and putting aside the body-worries in favour of looking after their health.
Sofia Dickson, McKenzie Devonshire and Giovanne Presland are three of those mums. They bare their bods and open up about their journeys.
"I'll be honest, I was initially in shock by how much my body changed after having a baby," admits Sofia Dickson, who was so slim pre-kids that she was often called "Twiggy" by her friends. "But then one day something clicked," she recalls. "I started seeing my body as amazing and beautiful."
In fact, fast-forward to today and the mum of two preschoolers admits that she has the body of her dreams, a curvy size 14.
"I finally have these curves and boobs," Sofia exclaims. "I love my new body more than I ever did when I was very slim."
The stay-at-home mum admits that she loved every aspect of becoming a mother, from pregnancy to childbirth and breastfeeding.
"I have a newfound respect for my body as it allowed me to do all those things," she enthuses. "What my body did is next-level incredible."
In fact, if anyone even thinks about criticising her curvier body or asks her if she misses being a size eight, Sofia, 25, is quick to call them out. "I always say that my body is beautiful," she explains. "I really do feel more confident now than ever before."
But the Aucklander confesses it's with great irony that she feels so passionate about her mum bod as she actually spent most of her life not wanting children. It was only two years after striking up a relationship at age 18 with her then 21-year-old husband-to-be Dominic that she made a complete U-turn.
"I was dead against ever having children and he knew from the start that it wasn't for me," she shares. "But one day I just changed my mind and then we were full throttle.
"We were engaged a month later and two months after that we were expecting our first," laughs Sofia. "Now I can't imagine not being a mum!"
Before having a baby McKenzie Devonshire couldn't remember a time when she didn't watch what she ate, often counting the calories of every morsel that passed her lips. "I was obsessed with having a flat stomach," she admits.
But that started to change when McKenzie, 22, fell pregnant by surprise during her first year of university when she was studying social work. She had only been dating her now partner Josh Capel for a few months when she found out she was expecting.
"It was kind of nice to look down at my stomach and see something that I'd been insecure about my whole life now becoming a little bump," she tells. "My pregnancy transformed something negative into something positive."
And when McKenzie welcomed daughter Kaia into the world in 2018, she was amazed by how her body pushed through childbirth without pain relief. "I had a home birth and it was an incredible experience," she beams.
"It totally empowered me to trust my body and realise it can actually do anything."
And the full-time mum says she's in awe that she's managed to continue breastfeeding for 22 months. "She has grown so much, from a baby to a vibrant toddler, and my body has nourished so much of that," McKenzie smiles.
The Aucklander says her approach to her body since having a baby has completely changed, now focusing on eating a plant-based diet and enjoying yoga and running.
"I want to eat to nourish my body rather than to make it look a certain way," explains McKenzie. "I want to be as healthy as I possibly can be for me and for Kaia."
The journey to motherhood has hardly been smooth for Giovanne Presland, who has faced four heartbreaking miscarriages and also lost her first daughter Aalyah soon after birth due to complications. But Giovanne believes each experience has taught her how strong her body is.
"I've had four children, and three living, and my body has gone through a hell of a lot during that time," Giovanne, 30, explains. "But what's really amazed me is how quickly the body, and even the mind, can heal. I truly believe that each pregnancy and birth has defined me."
Mum to Lori, 11, Malakai, two, and seven-month-old Samaria, and stepmum to Waikamania, 14, Waimirirangi, 13, and Keakealani, 10, Giovanne says motherhood always felt like her calling. And she's now proud of the mum bod that goes with it, saying, "I've had a baby and this is what that looks like."
And now, instead of focusing on losing weight, the Whangarei woman admits she has to stay strong to keep up with the six kids she and her partner Johnny Seve have between them.
"I eat healthy and focus on gut health," tells the business manager. "I feel stronger than I've ever felt."
Giovanne credits her newfound self-confidence to being a mum.
"Having children has helped me discover and accept who I am. I'll never take that for granted."
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