Body Acceptance after Pregnancy

Watching my body stretch and change as I grew a human being was truly one of the most remarkable experiences in the world. For the longest time, whenever Joey and I would talk about starting a family, I always had this notion that it would be nearly impossible for my body to get so big! We always laughed and wondered how me being pregnant would even work, I was sure I’d be bedridden for 9 months! I couldn’t imagine how my petite frame would carry the weight of another being, and to be fair- I wasn’t totally wrong, that last month was rough on this body of mine!

I’m so proud of what my body went through and even now, looking back I cannot believe the magic that pregnancy is. It’s amazing that our bodies just naturally do whatever it takes to support and grow a human being. Like WOW.

During that last month, as I anxiously awaited giving birth, I spent a lot of time reflecting on my pregnancy and the gratitude I had for my body. Don’t get me wrong, I also had some “thank goodness this shit is almost over” moments too- especially when I thought back on my first trimester, aka the trimester of death. I flipped through photos of my body as it grew and started to wonder what my body was going to look like after giving birth.

Throughout the 9 months of pregnancy, you get to gradually see yourself change and obviously everyone knows what a pregnancy looks like so even pre-bump pregnant me knew what was coming and what to expect. I don’t think anyone really prepares you for what to expect after you give birth. And not until the end of my pregnancy did I even think for a second about what the aftermath was going to be like.

Fast forward to about 4-5 hours post delivery and I decided to look and see what remained of my used to be huge baby bump. I laughed. I couldn’t help it. I’m not sure how to explain it other than saying my stomach looked like a helium balloon that you’ve had for a few months but it’s still trying to hang on for dear life and even though its partially deflated, it’s still somewhat hovering in the air just barely. My stomach was flat, yes, but deflated. My skin hung loosely and if it weren’t for the 20 lbs of ice in my underwear holding it up, I felt like it might just hit the ground.

It was a very strange thing for me to see. I just didn’t know what to expect so yea, I laughed and then moved on. When you’re still reeling in excitement of seeing and constantly staring at your newborn baby, the joy of being done with labor, mixed with the very real post delivery pain- you’re not really worried about what you look like. And nor should you- bask in the complete chaos and mess that is your new life as a mom!

I gained 32 lbs throughout my pregnancy and I weighed myself at home 3 days after giving birth and had already lost 20 lbs- damn Avery and her little home (placenta) were heavy! I am now 10 weeks postpartum and have 4 lbs to go to get to my pre-baby weight. Let me say this as LOUDLY as possible: I AM IN NO WAY TRYING/FORCING MYSELF TO LOSE THE BABY WEIGHT. I birthed a human being for God’s sake! I think I’m allowed to relax a bit and not push my body to do anything too crazy for the time being. I am exclusively breastfeeding and when they say that burns calories, they aren’t kidding. I didn’t do much of anything, outside of short 20 minute neighborhood walks until I saw by OBGYN for my 6 week postpartum check and had already lost nearly all the baby weight.

After my 6 week apt, I was cleared to start working out again and I started running (very slowly) again at 7 weeks postpartum. Running is helping my mental health and is not something I’m doing to “lose the weight.” I actually really hate that phrase and the notion that immediately after you have a baby, women are supposed to bounce back and look like they did pre-baby. Pre-baby me is gone thank you very much and I’m pretty okay with that so comparing my body now to my body then just isn’t something I’m doing, nor do I think anyone else should (and I say that as someone who some would say, did “bounce back” after giving birth).

I remember in the months leading up to my due date, the “pregnant conversations” (as I call them) from strangers shifted to the subject of weight and people would ask me how much weight I gained and would compliment me by saying “Oh, you’ll lose the weight right away” or “Losing the baby weight won’t be an issue for you, I’m sure.” And while I know they meant well I would kind of just shrug off the statement. I didn’t want to act like that was an okay statement to make- because I think things like that add to the idea that a woman has to lose the weight or she’s some sort of failure. It sets up this idea that oh, if I don’t lose the weight, is the world going to think less of me? And it automatically assumes that the first thing anyone is going to notice about you is whether or not you’ve lost the weight (which if we’re all being honest, totally is , however unfair that might be).

Having been there, and again, being someone lucky enough to not have struggled much with my weight post pregnancy, I would have much rather taken a compliment about how well-rested I look (even if it’s a lie), how good a job I’m doing as a new mother (even if someone has no idea), or how happy we all look as a family rather than a single “you look amazing, how’d you lose the weight so fast” compliments that enter my DM’s.

Physical activity is definitely important and has been a huge help in helping me feel more me. I stopped running 11 weeks into my pregnancy so getting back to running has brought me a lot of joy. Although right now, I’m definitely very SORE after each run. Because I’m easing into things, I’m alternating my running days with walking days in between and have been doing light weights and core training to help everything come back together. Just taking things slow and not putting any sort of pressure on myself.

I do think working out is important postpartum, as long as you’ve healed and are physically ready to do so. It has helped my mental state and helped me feel like I’m doing something for me throughout the day. As a new mom, your days revolve around your new baby so having something (even just one thing) that you want to do solely for yourself is, IMO, a necessity!

And if working out doesn’t sound good to you, then screw it! You don’t need something thats going to make you feel guilty or less productive if you choose not to do it. Going for a run might be my form of self love, but maybe yours is taking a long shower while your partner watches the baby at the end of the day, or reading a book while baby naps instead of doing the laundry or dishes (even if it’s only for one day out of the week), or maybe throw on a face mask while you multitask and fold laundry (I’ve definitely done that multiple times!) Whatever it is, find something that will bring you the joy of doing something solely and selfishly FOR YOU.

And in conclusion, here’s my bottom line- you’ve given birth to a human being who is going to need you nearly every second of every day for quite some time. What an amazing thing to realize! You will never be more needed than you are now. SO as I’ve reminded myself over the past couple months, I’ll leave here for you: enjoy your days and soak all the newborn cuddles up, don’t put pressure on yourself to lose ANY of the weight- you’ll have plenty of time (i.e. the rest of your life) to worry about weight if you really want too, and just be okay that your most productive day might be sitting on the couch feeding your baby the whole day.

The person you were prior to giving birth doesn’t exist anymore, you’ve become someone much, much cooler than she was. Any comparison to pre-baby me and post-baby me really doesn’t exist to me because they’re two different people. Pre-baby me had all hours of the day to do whatever she wanted and still didn’t get nearly enough done. Post-baby me keeps a living human being alive at all hours of the day, finds time to go for a run, fold laundry, do dishes, read a book (occasionally a chapter here and there), throw on a face mask, write a blog post, and every once in a while brushes her teeth before noon.

Post-baby me is on another level and I’m proud to have arrived here.

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