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 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?
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’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.”