WHAT WE’RE WEARING
I have come a long way since I had Benjamin last March. And I’m not talking about my physical fitness, I’m talking about my perspective on fitness, my imperfections and my self-acceptance.
I remember just a few weeks after Benjamin was born I was getting back into photoshoots for my blog, and my mom mentioned that she remembered losing most of her pregnancy weight at about 4 months postpartum. I responded, “FOUR MONTHS?! I can’t wait that long. I have a blog I have to look good for or people will not pin my photos!”
Major eye roll going on over here as I type this.
Now that I’m almost 9 months postpartum, I cannot believe I said or even thought that. But the pressure to get back in shape after baby is real… if we let it be real.
My first couple months of mom life were tough. Not just in adjusting to the new sleep routine (or lack thereof) and learning how to be someone else’s sole source of food, but in learning to be patient while my body healed.
I’ll spare you the details of the entire recovery (most of you probably know from experience), but my ankles and feet were swollen for weeks and I felt like my hips were never going to shrink, let alone my stomach. I literally didn’t recognize myself and didn’t know how to identify with this “new” body I was in. Add to that the lack of exercise (doctors don’t clear you til week 6) and then when you’re ready to exercise you feel like your uterus is going to fall out when you run, your muscles are still in hibernation, and where oh where are you supposed to find the time to exercise on 4 interrupted hours of sleep a night with a baby who eats every 2 hours?
Whew, am I glad all that’s behind me.
Here’s the truth, patience is the cornerstone of postpartum recovery and fitness. Your body has just performed a miracle. The kind you’ll look back on at 9 months postpartum and wonder if it really happened or if you dreamed the whole thing. It is seriously amazing that we live to be with our babies after that kind of trauma. I hope you’re starting to see where this is going.
Our bodies are amazing!
My experience turned out to be pretty closely aligned with my mom’s. At about 4 months postpartum (+ 4 months of breastfeeding), my body started to look more like what I was used to. While I’ve never relied too much on the scale to tell me if I’m healthy or not, the weight was consistently coming down and my old clothes were fitting again, if not looser. I currently weigh less than I did in high school. And I’m not saying that to impress anyone (I really don’t even care myself). I say it to make the point that your body will change after pregnancy.
The reason I don’t care about the weight is because the number doesn’t feel like I always thought it would. Yes, I’m admitting I’ve made goals in the past to weigh a certain amount and the wake up call is that weight only tells part of the story (and muscle really does weigh more than fat)! I lost all of my muscle tone and strength and even though I weigh less , I still have areas for improvement in terms of reaching my fitness goals. And I’m okay with it.
It’s really just been one incredible journey of learning what I’m capable of.
Even the months following month 4, I continued to see changes. My stomach is mostly back to normal now, but I still have yet to try a set of ab workouts (going to try this 30-day ab challenge from my friend Sara over at LovebyLynn.com) because I know my muscles were pretty stretched out while Benjamin was growing inside. In a nutshell, these are the things that helped me through the waiting game (no pun intended… “weighting” lolz)…
- Going on regular walks with Benjamin. During the summer, I used a stroller, but now that he’s bigger, I like to bundle him up and go out with this amazing Baby Bjorn carrier. Seriously, forget all those fancy wraps and slings. This thing has no learning curve and is easy and comfortable for both Mom (or Dad) and Baby. You can even wear it around the house.
- Breastfeeding as long as possible. I didn’t believe the stories at first about breastfeeding helping you lose the baby weight, but it worked for me and I’m pretty sure this was a huge contributor to my bounce back. I’ll be sharing more of my breastfeeding experience next week, but you can also check out my blog post with tips for surviving breastfeeding.
- Eating a diet of healthy, natural, REAL foods. This may surprise you, but I think I’ve been to the gym less than 5 times since I had Benjamin. LESS THAN 5! I guess all the walks outside count for something, but I am that classic example of not having time to fit it in. I’ll figure it out eventually, but I can’t express to you enough how important eating healthy was for my postpartum body. About a month after having Benjamin, I started juicing fruits and vegetables and even did a 5-day juice cleanse. It’s not as crazy as it sounds if you educate yourself first. Check out my blog post about 3 documentaries that will change the way you think about food! Then come back and let me know if you plan to try juicing. I really, really love it.
- Introducing sleep training earlier than later. Yep, I’ve got a blog post on that, too. You need sleep as much as your growing baby does! It’s not just for your mind, your body needs it to recover from the labor of your new routine. Mom life is literally the hardest job I’ve ever had. And of course, the most fulfilling. But it’s easier to remember all the special moments when I get as much sleep as I can. So do yourself a favor and make sleep a priority.
- Using every available tool to make mom life easier. I’m now thinking I should do a roundup post of every product and resource I’ve used so far as a new mom. They seem to be endless. From nursing tips and tricks and sleep training support systems to snot suckers and YouTube songs (that work every time), motherhood requires you to be resourceful. One adjustment I didn’t see coming until the first time I was home alone with Benjamin and had to go to the bathroom was that I had to bring him with me EVERYWHERE. Like, what? I didn’t even think of that. That’s when I started using a baby bouncer and I’d literally buckle him in and take him all around the house in it. He’d sit in it when I’d pump, when I’d eat breakfast, sometimes when I’d take a quick shower or change my clothes. This thing is amazing because it’s light enough to take with you to other people’s houses if you need to, and babies looove them. I also love the beautiful colors this Baby Bjorn bouncer comes in with their new Woods Collection. Anyway, more to come on all the tools! But the more you know, the easier the adjustment and hopefully the less stressed you’ll be (which is good for your body and your recovery).
I know that’s a lot to digest, but I assume it’s a topic almost every new mom worries about at some point after having her beautiful baby.
Enjoy every moment with your little ones, but be sure to take care of yourself, be kind to yourself and appreciate this challenging yet incomparable journey you’re on.
Now, I want to hear from you! What has helped you bounce back after having a baby?
Special thanks to Baby Bjorn for partnering on this post. Select products provided c/o Baby Bjorn. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Photos by The High Pines.