Having a baby is such a journey.
Let’s do a brief timeline, shall we?
TWW (two week wait)
Get your BFP (big fat positive).
Survive the dreaded nausea phase.
Give me #allthefood.
How did I gain 4 pounds in a weekend?
I have to pee. I have to pee. I have to pee.
Please stop kicking my ribs and/or bladder.
The month of entirely too many doctor’s visits.
Must clean the entire house now!
Is this a contraction?
Um, yeah, so this better be actual labor.
… I’ll conveniently skip all the things said during transition…
Then – BAM – you’ve arrived in Babyville and everyone tells you the annoying cliche that your life will never be the same.
Of course, all the well-meaning “just you wait” pieces of advice don’t do you much good until you’re IN IT. And believe me, you’re IN IT with full force, whether you’re ready or not (oh, the uncharted territory of caring for a newborn…).
As seasoned moms know, in the early days/weeks/months (what day is it?), all of your energy goes to baby and there’s simply not much time to think about yourself.
And when you do get a 2 minute break to actually gather your mom brain thoughts into a cohesive sentence, you’re probably going to want to head to the kitchen to nosh on something because it’s been how long since you last ate?
Yep, that about sums it up.
After the dust settles and you have a chance to actually look at yourself in the mirror, it can be a humbling experience.
In Part 2 of the Post Baby Body Love series, Sarah Drake bravely shares her postpartum experience and feelings about her post baby body. (Did you miss Part 1? View it here.)
Post Baby Body Love (Part 2)
Recall the first time you looked at your body in the mirror after having a baby. What were your thoughts?
The first time that I looked at my body after having a baby was about 1 day after I had my son when I took a shower. On the one hand I was shocked at the floppy belly, but on the other hand I had anticipated my “belly” would take some time to go back to normal as my uterus shrunk back to it’s pre-baby size. I actually felt really wonderful for the first 6-8 weeks; my body was adjusting back to normal, or so I thought. For me, I was so insecure and, frankly, depressed about my body about 3 months postpartum when I still had 20 pounds (of the 36 I gained) to lose. I was eating well and felt I should have been able to shed some body fat, but it was not coming off like I wanted it to or anticipated it would.
Is there anything you miss about your body before baby? (Or anything you would change about your current body if you could?)
I definitely have lost muscle mass, which I would love to get back! Truthfully, it’s been hard for me to find the energy and motivation to spend my non-working hours any other way but with my son. I also am much more critical of myself, which I would love to shake any day now!
What do you wish you had been told about postpartum recovery/bodily changes?
I wish someone would have told me how long it could potentially take to return to fitting in my pre-baby clothes and for my body to return to normal functioning. It took a long time, close to a year and a half, for everything to get back to “normal.” I wish most health professionals didn’t tell me that, considering my pre-baby health, I would be back to my pre-baby weight by 3 months postpartum when it really took me 10 months to reach that milestone. I also did not get my period back until nearly 17 months postpartum (I was still breastfeeding until the last month or so), which seemed to also influence my weight and body composition a little, as I lost about 3-5 pounds once I got my period back.
If you feel/felt pressure to return to your “pre-baby body” or “bounce back”, where does that pressure come from (best guesses)?
The pressure is all on me, though it’s less to do with appearance and more to do with just wanting to feel somewhat like my pre-baby self. I remember thinking my whole life revolved around all things but me, and that if I could just wear those jeans and like how I looked in a photo I would be happier. My husband and friends and family were nothing but amazing in their support, and I am ultimately happy that I allowed things to happen in due time.
How have you come to accept (possibly celebrate or adore) your post-baby body?
I have accepted it, though there are still times where I know I could do more to address things I am unhappy with, namely the muscle mass attrition I have experienced. As I mentioned, I am way more critical of the things I am not doing that I was previously, rather than celebrating my health and the things I have prioritized doing.
Is there anything else you want to share about your journey to embracing your post-baby body?
I did a Whole30 at 6 months postpartum. It did significantly impact my breastmilk supply, which was stressful. In hindsight, I would wait until 8 months next time most likely (I’m now 19 months postpartum). The part I really want to share, though, is that it made a huge difference in resetting my eating habits (which admittedly got a little confused after I gave birth), jump-starting my metabolism, and helping me to lose some stubborn weight after I had plateaued and still had 20 pounds to lose. I would highly recommend a Whole30, or a slightly modified version with maybe a bit more carbohydrates, for a good reset.
I want to sincerely thank Sarah for sharing her feelings and contributing to this series on post baby body love.
As she points out, healing from pregnancy and birth as well as weight loss can take a long time. That’s entirely normal.
“I wish someone would have told me how long it could potentially take to return to fitting in my pre-baby clothes and for my body to return to normal functioning. It took a long time, close to a year and a half, for everything to get back to “normal.”
In other words, go easy on yourself during this intense season of life. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not losing weight at the same rate as another mama. Focus on the ways you can take care of—and nourish—yourself, rather than focus on the scale. Self care and self love is the only way through.
Did this resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
- How did you navigate the postpartum body expectations from yourself or others?
- How have your feelings changed over time?
PS – If you’d like a chance to be featured in the Post Baby Body Love series, answer these questions. I realize this is a sensitive subject, so you can choose to share anonymously. xoxo
PPS – I wish more mothers were encouraged to embrace post-baby body love. I think part of it comes with having realistic and reasonable expectations for healing (such as how long it takes for your pelvic floor to heal, how long it takes to lose the weight, etc.).
I decided to cover these topics and much more about the 4th trimester in detail in my book, Real Food for Pregnancy. A lot of people told me to put this information in a separate book, but I know the reality is that you need this information, ideally anyways, before you have your baby. You can grab the first chapter for free via the box below; my gift to you!