A mama less ordinary: The reality of the Insta-mum

In a series of columns for Grazia, Fashion Director and writer Jade Chilton documents her new life as a mama, minus the mumsy. This week, she delves into the life beyond the social-media squares
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A mama less ordinary: The reality of the Insta-mum

Today, life as we know it seems to have taken a dual path. There is the happy, idealised version of ourselves on social media, and then there’s the reality: the lows, the unfiltered and the banal day-to-day activities that we choose not to share. As I headed obliviously into motherhood I made a mental note to recognise life beyond Instagram, an important decision that could save the sanity of both myself and all new mothers.

As we all know, Instagram is a morphed version of reality. That new mum with a two-month-old baby and abs like Bella Hadid most likely manipulated her taut tummy and, in normal circumstances, we would spot that a mile off.

However, a mum battling through her fourth trimester and a body surging with postpartum hormones may find herself wondering why her own paunch still looks like it’s housing a foetus. It’s not just self-doubt and comparison, it’s said that one in five women experience postnatal depression and social media is fuelling that anxiety and increasing depression in new mums. A quick 10-minute scroll can leave you feeling inadequate for the rest of the day and could be detrimental to your mental health.

One freshly baked mama friend with a three-week-old baby messaged me from the UK one day exclaiming, “Life looks so glamorous and easy over in Dubai with a baby.” While she was struggling with the three-week cluster-feed attack (if you know, you know) she was transfixed with my feed (the other kind) where it featured a bikini-clad Greta living her best life on a sun lounger during a staycation. I was quick to put her straight. I too went through the cluster-feed nightmare and I didn't leave the apartment for four weeks post-birth, coming up for air from time to time and taking short walks to the supermarket. I lived in tracksuit bottoms, washed my hair once a week and didn't bother with make-up.

I also steered clear of Instagram. It was fashion month when I gave birth and the last thing I needed or wanted was to fill my head with my peers having a fabulous time in Milan while I was averaging two hours sleep per day – Editor friends, don’t even think about moaning about back-to-back fashion shows until you’ve given birth and woken up every hour for a hungry baby.

Another mummy friend was similarly documenting her life, posting pictures of herself partying with friends just two weeks after having her baby. What it didn’t show was that same mum admitting she might have overdone it and that she was suffering heavy bleeding, a symptom of cutting short your recovery time after a C-section.

In reality, spending time with Greta on the sun lounger was a mere snapshot before I raced her back into the hotel room and sucked fresh mucus out of her pea-sized nostril with a snot-sucker gadget. Yes, you read that correctly.

I tell you now, when it comes to all this newborn malarky, I’ve been there and got the T-shirt, complete with explosive poo splattered on the front. I’ve cleaned up baby urine off of my new Sisal rug, I’ve cried when we ran out of nappies, I’ve drowned in dirty sleep suits and I’ve woken up so exhausted I wished I could have a day off from being mum. I’ve chosen not to share the ‘low’ moments on those all-revealing squares, because I respect that not all my followers want to read about blocked breast ducts, but I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say don’t believe all that you see. For me, life is perfect as a new mum, but remember in my seemingly blissful post-partum bubble I am still enduring the sleepless nights, black circles under my eyes and a baby that refuses to sleep when I want her to. And chances are that the woman with the abs - she is too.

Photos: Jade's own