Olivia Bowen: I lost my body confidence as a mum – it made me spiteful
As Olivia Bowen’s son Abel approaches his first birthday, the first-time mum has opened up on her post-baby battle with body image, which left her feeling as though she’d “lost every part” of her former self.
The 29-year-old Love Island favourite welcomed her little boy with 2016 co-star hubby Alex, 31, in June last year following a traumatic 30-hour-long labour, which included a catalogue of complications, including when Abel temporarily stopped breathing.
And though her son made a full recovery and is now a happy and healthy 11-month-old tot, Olivia says it’s taken a long time to start feeling confident in her own body again, having been advised to rest for months following her exhausting experience.
“It was just a big change,” she tells OK! . “It was more me losing myself on the inside than dealing with how I looked on the outside. For me, fitness and working out are so important and I couldn’t do any of that. In turn, it made me really spiteful towards my body because I wasn’t able to move how I used to.”
Olivia continues, “I was definitely hormonal and up and down, but I think I was just coming to terms with everything and just struggling with the way that I looked. I had very sad days where I would cry all the time, and I had very happy days.
“But that’s all part and parcel of the fourth trimester, which people seem to forget. It’s part of being postpartum. It’s really hard.”
Despite making plans for a Caesarean, the reality star’s birth experience was not quite what she expected.
When doctors realised Abel’s heart rate had dropped, Olivia had to undergo an epidural and an episiotomy [surgical incision], before forceps were used.
Olivia tells us, “I don’t think I ever appreciated how painful it would be.”
Only being able to conduct minimal physical exercise for almost a year after her labour initially left fitness fanatic and competitive horse rider Olivia grieving for her former figure, but she says she finally feels as though she’s regaining her mojo.
“I had so many stitches so I did really struggle,” she confesses. “I couldn’t ride my horse because I was so weak because of my abdominal muscles separating and not using my muscles. I couldn’t do anything that I loved.
“But now I’m back doing my hobbies and I’m riding, I feel so elated. I started personal training twice a week, running twice a week, I was just all over it. My body got fitter. For me, I look better – maybe not for other people, but I don’t care how other people see me.”
Olivia adds, “Since I’ve had a baby, I do question myself and I do struggle with the way that my figure has changed and I do have to force myself to feel confident at times. I used to worry about my body before I even had a baby and now I am like, ‘Oh my God, how was I moaning then?’ Women are never happy, are they?”
Despite her body confidence being almost fully restored, one thing Olivia admits is still holding her back is seeing how her breasts have changed since she became a mother.
“One of my favourite things about myself was my boobs,” she admits. “But after breastfeeding, they naturally just lose their volume. I mean, my boobs have fed a baby so they’re never going to be the same size and the skin has just become more elastic. My boobs doubled in size when I was feeding Abel. They went up to a 32DD before I had him and I am three sizes smaller now.”
And the star admits she’s even considered going under the knife in an attempt to feel her sexy self again.
“I would never say never. I think if someone does something for themselves, to make themselves happy, or make themselves confident, that’s great. I just don’t know how I feel. Alex doesn’t care and I’m not particularly bothered,” Olivia discloses. “I can’t even think about booking myself in for any procedure – you can’t lift anything for a while, and it would break my heart if I couldn’t pick Abel up.”
But, she teases, “I couldn’t say 100% because who knows, if I have another baby they’re gonna drop even further!”
For now, Olivia insists she’s grateful for her partnership with boob tape company Perky Pear
to give her the support she needs.
Speaking of their Lift And Shape Tape options, she gushes, “They’re so different and I do feel they have given me that boost of confidence. You do have to find ways of building yourself up and that was why Perky Pear was such a natural thing for me to do. I felt uncomfortable wearing certain things that I wanted to wear but these are a godsend!”
For more on Perky Pear, visit perkypear.com
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