Postpartum Bodies: You Are Not the Same, and that’s OKAY

pregnant lady before postpartum

Childbirth is no joke. I’m in the phase of life where many of my friends are new mothers so pregnancy, and its aftermath tend to be a common topic.

For many years I’ve trained pregnant and postpartum women. I know all the best movements to keep a woman strong and physically fit both during pregnancy and after. I’m very well versed on the physical limitations and what makes sense to do (and what doesn’t – ahem crunches, ab twists etc etc).

My point is, while I’ve been certified in prenatal and postnatal fitness for years, like many things in life until you go through it firsthand knowledge is limited.

I’ve been blessed to have two babies in the past three years. Going through pregnancy and recovery twice has naturally provided perspective.

You may have friends who’ve been there and kept it real with you. Or perhaps you were shocked that you didn’t leave the hospital looking like your pre-pregnant self.

How many US weekly covers have we seen glorifying celebrities for losing the baby weight?

Clearly, our culture applauds women who seemingly “bounce back” quickly, meanwhile have no first hand knowledge if they got there in a healthy manner or not.

I’m honestly so sick of the term bounce back. Back? Who wants to go backwards?

I don’t. Forward and onward please. Look, I don’t know anyone who wishes to continue looking pregnant after they pop a baby out.

But after you have children your former normal is NOT your new normal. Your priorities change, you probably sleep less, you have different worries, and you are less inclined to buy a white couch. So why would we expect our bodies to be exactly the same when little else in our lives is?

postpartum mother with baby

I think as women we’d all be better off if we acknowledge that.

1. You grew a human being. Things had to change to accommodate a living, breathing thing that you housed within an expanding belly for 10 months.

2.  Some of how we look post baby really is luck, and genetics.

I’ve worked with women who fall all over the board. Some struggle with losing weight even when they’re eating well and exercising. Others lose pounds easily, but may have stretch marks or some ab separation (often genetic), and feel their stomach doesn’t look as flat. The reality is exercising and nutrition will help! But expecting every ounce to be as it was is typically unrealistic.

I’ll keep it real.Back in my early 20s I worried about how I’d feel when I got pregnant and my body changed. Fitness is such a big part of my life that I didn’t know how I’d handle the lack of control that comes with pregnancy. It turns out, I loved that the most about being pregnant. Sporting a baby bump felt amazing to me, and I fully embraced my new shape. It just felt like an outward reflection of the healthy baby I already loved.

I will, however, acknowledge that the early first trimester hello-food-baby-pooch, and the immediate postpartum phases weren’t my favorite. Does anyone enjoy looking or feeling bloated though?

In part thanks to genetics and partly because I stayed pretty active during pregnancy my baby weight came off quickly. Was this a relief? Yes, sure – I’d be lying if I said I wanted to hold on to extra pounds.

BUT my body is not the exact same. At four months postpartum my hips are still a little wider, my abs aren’t as defined, my back strength has been compromised from diaper changes and breastfeeding – and I’m not going to beat a running personal record any time soon. And that is OKAY.

I don’t want to be the same. Because that would mean I didn’t have my babies. I came across this quote from Kerry Washington recently. She said, 
“I’ve been really focused on not being ‘back’ to anything, but being the best version of myself right now. My body is the site of a miracle now. I don’t want to be pre-miracle.”

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Beth Funari Sims

Beth is an Athletic and Personal Trainer who specializes in working with women and kids. A health and wellness junkie who loves helping others reach their personal goals. She’s into cooking, whipping up healthy cocktails, reading in bed, and spending time with her husband, and one-year-old daughter. Beth relocated to Cleveland from NYC a few years ago, and now loves calling CLE home. Stay connected to Beth on Instagram @FitnessBeth

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Yes. I feel like society has been so warped by the magazines into thinking it’s a good and realistic idea to get “back into shape” ASAP. Women should feel comfortable in their skin however the come, and applauded for all their body does during pregnancy and childbirth !

  • Oh my, Bethany, this post is acting like a much needed sermon for me. Since baby #2 arrived, almost three months ago I have spent time away from him twice. Neither time was refilling, once was for my six week postpartum check and the other time family watched him for two hours but very much didn’t follow my clear instructions, so some drama happened as a result, all of which was very bad for my postpartum anxiety and it ended with me no longer feeling like it’s worth it to leave my baby if I can’t be confident in what’s happening while I’m away. Dillon is still working up to watching both babies by himself. Travis is really attached to me so Dillon has a harder time with him. What you said about naps is spot on, it’s precious time, it’s when things need to get done. Even if that is just eating a good meal. Because yes, I can’t nap when the house is a wreck. But even napping with the babies isn’t a refilling of the cup. I’m so glad and inspired you and Hubs are making this a priority. I bet it also helps you be a better wife! Also, we get the same Starbucks drink!

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