I refused to title this post ‘My Postpartum Body’ or ‘Body After Baby.” Phrasing it that way really irritates me. Pregnancy is such a beautiful and miraculous experience, but for some reason, women oftentimes forget about everything their body did for them over the course of nine months and instead focus on reaching postpartum or ‘body after baby’ milestones. Personally, I refuse to subject myself to that kind of mindset. My body is still my body.
Before I share my journey and experience, I want to state that it’s just that. MY journey and experience. I’m not going to share pictures of myself or anything like that because 1. are you kidding me (shudder!)!? and 2. as I quickly learned, it’s not just about what your body looks like after nine months. There’s so much more to this whole thing.
With that, here we go…
Let’s start with pregnancy. It’s insane…in so many different ways…most of which are wonderful. I remember being in awe of my growing belly and thanking my lucky stars for the opportunity to create life. It was and always will be the best thing I ever did. However, it comes with some side effects. Those weren’t always so fun, especially the swollen legs, feet, and ankles. But I got through it, and my body didn’t fail me. Instead it enabled me with my long walks to and from work, my early morning workout sessions, etc. Never have I been so thankful for the body I have!
Then came the actual delivery. If you read my post about Kaiden’s birth story, you know it didn’t go according to plan. But I do attribute (at least partially) the positive ending to the hours of exercise and movement I racked up over the course of the nine months. It really does make a difference!
Then came a five night hospital stay because of all the complications. Because of all the fluids they had to give me + the antibiotics, my body was SWOLLEN. I mean, I looked in the mirror on day two, and immediately called out to my sister because what I saw freaked me out! Everything from my waist down was inflated. Vishnu said my legs felt like plastic, and even my mom was freaked out (although she kept telling me I looked great). It took 2-3 weeks for the swelling to go away completely. I never thought the day would come.
Since that time, my body has continued to change. It’s slowly normalizing (whatever that means!). I will say though…I don’t think it will ever go back to the way it looked pre-Kaiden, especially in the belly area. And you know what, I’m 100% okay with that. I mean, I housed my child inside of me. That was his home for nine months. It’s totally ok if that special part of me looks a little different. And truth be told, I’ve never had a super flat belly, so how can I realistically expect to have one now.
With all of that being said, I am trying to be mindful of what I eat and reminding myself to move whenever possible. Not because I want my body ‘back,’ but because I want to feel my absolute best for me and my family. They really need me! Ha!
Before I share a little more on my habits and the tools I’m using to help me along the way, there are a few things all mamas should be aware of before starting on their own journeys. It goes without saying, but any and all decisions should be discussed with your doctor. He/she really does know best!
If you’re breastfeeding or pumping, you want to ensure you’re taking in an adequate amount of calories. This is not the time to start a restrictive diet (there’s never a good time for that but that’s a different topic for a different day). Your body needs fuel to keep up with all the milk your producing, so if anything, eat more! I’ve read more than one account of mamas restricting calories and losing their supply.
The same mantra goes for exercise. If you want to keep your supply up, don’t aggressively exercise. And more than anything, go with what your doctor says with regards to movement. If you’re told to wait eight weeks (like me), wait eight weeks. Instead of thinking about missed gym time, enjoy your baby. It’s worth it!
And my final observation pertains to the number on the scale. The number has never meant less to me than it does now. Pregnancy has showed me that the number on the scale and what you see in the mirror don’t always correlate. You can weigh what you did pre-baby and still not look the same, and on the flip side, you can weigh a little more and look better than expected. My advice to all new moms is to remember that the scale is one small slice of a very larger pie. Personally, I’m using my pants to measure progress. Thankfully, most of my pants/jeans fit now but not as comfortably as they did before, so my goal is to get to the point where I truly feel like myself in my pants. Ha! And to be completely honest, I’m using my clothes because I don’t want to spend money on new pants/jeans. Basically, I’m cheap!
Ok so here’s my postpartum food and fitness non-plan plan… 🙂
Overall, my mantra is to take it one day at a time. Life with a baby requires you to make plans and adjust as you go. My vision of how I think our day will unfold rarely matches what actually happens. And that’s ok. Hey, if this type-A maniac can learn to roll with it, anyone can!
When it comes food, the D word is a major no no. As boring as it may sound, my philosophy is to keep it simple, fresh, and delicious. The sugar monster inside of me wants all the goodies I can find, but I’m trying to lower my sugar intake as much as possible (re: not eliminate it because what’s the fun in that!). I’ve also increased my water intake because the more water the better, especially for breast milk production. I haven’t jumped back on the alcohol train just yet, aside from one beer and one glass of wine. I’d like to keep it infrequent going forward…at least for now! As far as eating out is concerned, I try to make the best choice I can in the moment. We eat pretty healthy at home, so I don’t mind ‘splurging’ if you will every now and then. Again, what’s the fun in always picking the healthy option!
I have a post in the works about meal prepping to avoid eating (crap) on the go. Lots of thoughts on that now that time is a rare commodity! Coming soon.
I have even less of a plan when it comes to exercise. Ha! My philosophy is to move as much as possible whenever possible. Sometimes that looks like designated gym time, sometimes that looks like a Barre3 online workout at home, and sometimes that looks like a long walk with my boys. If possible, I’m trying to exercise intentionally 4-5 times a week for 30-40 minutes. Key word is trying. But really, it’s all about building up daily activity at this point in time. One thing that’s super helpful with regards to working out is having a supportive partner. Vishnu encourages me to do what I need to do for my self-care. Have I mentioned that I love him because I do!
So that’s where I am at almost three months out! Can you believe it? Three months!
Hoping to fit in a 40 minute Barre3 workout tonight…or a nap. We’ll see how I feel. Agility at it’s best!