Why it's great that celebs including Katy Perry and Amy Schumer are posting pics of their leaky, bumpy post-birth glory

MY baby and I nearly died when I gave birth to him. The labour was traumatic with blood transfusions and lots of complications.

Mentally I wasn’t great afterwards but I tried to just get on with it and be at home straight away. I ended up collapsing four times within the first two weeks.

It was pretty scary. The first time it happened, I didn’t realise what was going on. I was getting ready then suddenly I was on the floor.

Once I banged my head on a set of drawers in my bedroom so I went back to hospital and had to be monitored.

As I’d lost so much blood in labour, I was severely anaemic.

I was 19 and a Page 3 model and because I was a teenage mum who got her kit off for a living, there was a fair bit of scrutiny on me.

I felt like people were looking at me to fail.  I wanted to prove I could do it all so I burnt the candle at both ends. I probably ended up too slim — not because I dieted but because I didn’t stop to give myself a second.

But after giving birth it takes a while to feel like yourself and adjust to your new body.

So it was refreshing to see Katy Perry sharing an honest photo of her body five days after ­giving birth.

The 35-year-old singer, who announced the arrival of her and Orlando Bloom’s daughter Daisy Dove last week, stood in front of her bathroom mirror in a nursing bra and large grey knickers.

Because guess what? When any mum comes out of hospital — regardless of how rich and famous she is — she will have leaky boobs and be wearing massive underwear.

Back when I had Finnbar, who is now 14, the only pictures you saw of celebrities post-birth were in magazines — a contrived, creative photoshoot where everyone had to look lovely.

But now, on social media especially, the conversations around motherhood are becoming more open and honest.

Katy Perry isn’t the first famous face to get real. Reality TV’s Millie Mackintosh and Lucy Mecklenburgh, actress Gemma Atkinson and models Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence have shared their own postpartum pics too.

It’s as if everyone has decided to finally admit the bump doesn’t disappear as soon as the baby is born.

Maybe Kate Middleton wearing a blue dress that showed her bump on the steps of London’s St Mary’s Hospital in 2013 after giving birth to Prince George was a turning point.

It was a far cry from Princess Diana who covered up her post-birth bumps in a smock dress. Thankfully, we have come a long way since then.

In 2009, Heidi Klum returned to the Victoria’s Secret runway five weeks postpartum and ­a few weeks later Gisele Bundchen appeared on the cover of Vogue, claiming she had regained her figure “instantly” after giving birth.

A few years later, in 2012, I did a photoshoot five DAYS after I’d given birth to my daughter, Delilah.

We were in Manchester as my husband, cyclist Mark Cavendish, was training at the Velodrome for the Olympics and we were staying on an airbed in a friend’s spare room. 

I had a horrific day and night before the shoot. When I arrived, there were all these different options for me to wear.

It was a “mum and baby” shoot celebrating Delilah’s arrival yet none of it was about being open and honest about how I felt. It was about the big bouncy blow-dry and a nice blouse and make-up — a polished version of me.

I thought I looked like a car crash.

When I look at the pictures I don’t think “oh that’s a nice moment with my baby”, I just remember trying to scrape myself off the floor to do the photoshoot and pretend to feel a certain way. 

I now realise that by showing motherhood, warts and all, you realise everyone’s bodies are different, as are their pregnancies — all four of mine have been.

I’m really lucky and have managed to get my body back not long after I’ve given birth.

I’m tall, 5ft 9½in, have a naturally small frame and some luck with genes. But I’ve also been so sick during all of my pregnancies that I struggled to put much weight on.

That hasn’t stopped people telling me what they think.

Society makes women so competitive against each other, especially tough when you’ve just had a baby and are feeling so vulnerable.

Six weeks after I’d given birth, to most people I probably looked a normal size but I still felt far from comfortable with my size.

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People get very angry so I’ve shied away from making online posts when I’ve just had a baby because people say “you should be putting other things first” or “you have so much money so can afford a nutritionist or nanny”.

If it’s the first baby or the tenth, you still worry about what is normal.
Seeing women share the realistic, relatable side of motherhood can only give a huge boost to the mental health and wellbeing of other new mums — they can see that whatever they are going through is totally normal.

It’s also important for men and boys growing up to see it too. 

A female body is pretty impressive, so we need to show that this is what it looks like and that no one should expect that everything just goes back to normal immediately.

The body has been through a trauma and it takes a lot of effort to put everything back together again.

It’s taken nine months to get it like that, why would you expect it to ping back right away? 

When I had Finnbar I presumed my body would snap back. But my tummy felt like jelly. No one told me it would. It was disgusting and bizarre.

I felt self-conscious about it. But my babies have lived there — it makes sense.

Even now I don’t love my tummy — it feels different. The skin has stretched four times to have the babies. It hasn’t got the elasticity it used to have. 

It’s common for the two muscles in the middle of the stomach to separate during pregnancy to make way for your growing womb, and normally takes about eight weeks for them to return to normal. 

I have stretch marks on my thighs and on my bum and a dent on my tummy.

But as I’ve got older I worry less about these things. I’ve realised how amazing it is what your body can do and it’s good that we’re documenting it and normalising it, particularly when porn is so prevalent.

We’re fed an aesthetic that’s not real. The more conversations there are about everyone being different, the more barriers will be broken down. 

I have always looked like a sweaty mess when I give birth but if having your hair and make-up done before having a baby makes you feel better, do it. Do what works for you.

At the end of the day, we’re all going to be coming out in massive surgical knickers with a sanitary towel, because giving birth is savage.

We’ll all be there, scared to go to the toilet the first time after having a baby.

Whether you’re Katy Perry or an ordinary person, breaking down those walls about motherhood helps make someone feel less isolated.

I never showed a chink in my armour because I felt I couldn’t. I never wanted to be anything other than very strong and confident. 

Now I realise strength can come from showing a vulnerability rather than having to put up a strong front.

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