Learning To Accept My Body Postpartum
Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Women know that after having a baby her body will change. It's different for everyone and you can't know how it will be for you until you've gone through pregnancy and beyond. Before having my first baby I was a self proclaimed gym rat. I worked out 5+ times a week. Being fit and healthy was a top priority for me. When Lucas and I decided to have a baby I remember worrying about what my body would look like afterward. Would I gain a ton of weight and find it really hard to lose said weight? Would I bounce back and into my pre-baby jeans right away? Something in between? Who could say! The thought was scary but as for most women, I didn't let it deter me from wanting to have a baby.
Once I got pregnant I got a pretty bad case of morning sickness. I felt sick and was vomiting for weeks on end and had aversions to just about every kind of food. Needless to say I lost weight for the first few months. I felt anxious that my baby and I weren't getting proper nutrition but my midwife assured me that all was well. That was a relief. However, during these horrible first few months I wasn't able to work out like I had been used to doing. It was depressing as I had set goals in my mind to stay fit and healthy throughout my pregnancy.
After about week 18/19 my morning sickness slowly ebbed away and I was feeling a bit more like myself. I could eat a few more foods and stopped vomiting. I decided to start training again, which felt great. I took it slow, especially as my hips started to fail me with all the relaxin hormone I was producing. Though I had this fantastic goal of being fit and healthy whilst pregnant, my body had other plans for me. I had been checking out mommy blogs and fitness websites and seeing these fit pregnant women --I felt like that could me be if I set my mind to it.
Lesson number one. I should not have bothered comparing myself to anyone else but that is HARD not to do. When you see pictures, hear stories about a friend of a friend and can look anything up on the internet it can set some pretty unrealistic expectations. To be honest, this was a hard lesson then and still is now.
I started hitting the gym a couple of times each week, which was progress. I was consistent and trained until the last day of my pregnancy. I was basically maintaining some muscle mass, I did not look particularly toned. I felt pretty good about how I had stayed physically active during the last half of my pregnancy, both for the healthy of my baby and myself. After actually giving birth nothing could have prepared me for the first look in the mirror. I felt shocked at how big I still looked. It really didn't help that I had been up for nearly two days and had just pushed a human out of me. I think shock is putting it mildly though. I remember wondering how I could look this way. In my head I felt like I should have looked better and more put together. I had seen plenty of photos of other new moms fresh out of the delivery room looking gorgeous with makeup and hair done. That was not me. I was just glad that the hospital robe was roomy and that the funny underwear they gave me were big and not squeezing into my tender tummy.
After a few months I felt more and more like my old self. My body was finding some of it's old shapes. My milk supply had settled down and wasn't soaking through all of my tops and squirting my little baby all over her face anymore. But did I fit into my old skinny jeans? No. And believe me I checked. Every few weeks I would pull out a few pairs of my old pants and feel disappointed that I still hadn't "bounced back".
When we compare ourself to other people we are absolutely setting ourselves up to feel let down. I actually have to remind my kids that they are not the same person. When they get upset for not getting the same toy, clothing item or have the ability to do the same things, I remind them. If I can so easily remind them why should it be so easy for me to forget that I am not that same as someone else? We have different body types, different metabolisms, our heights, ages and genes are not the same. This is not some crazy revelation but somehow I still need reminding of it myself.
After having two babies two years apart I can still tell you that I am not where I was hoping to be by now. My littlest one is now two and a half years old. Our breast feeding journey came to a close when he was 23 months old, which is incidentally the time that he started sleeping though the night. Having children and taking care of many of the household responsibilities means that time is short and making it to the gym is not a priority anymore. I am sure that some moms would argue that there is always time for working out (if that's you, way to go) and it is funny because before getting pregnant I was sure I wouldn't let having kids stop me from keeping fit -- but I am literally eating my words.
Would I like to get spend some time training at the gym every week? Yes. Do I have a gym membership? I did but it expired after using it only a handful of times. Do I love the way my body looks right now? Not really -- but realistically, where I am now is okay. Instead of trying on my old jeans and feeling low about how my shapes have changed, I have put them away and bought new ones that fit me as I am now. I have purged my closet of tops and dresses that no longer fit. I have also worn a swimming suit in public and guess what, nothing bad happened.
I am not who I used to be, my body has gone through some crazy changes in the last few years and I am coming to terms with where I am just now. At this stage in my life as a mother of two little kids my goal of toned muscles is taking a back seat. This doesn't mean I am giving up and eating garbage though. I fuel myself with a well balanced vegan diet. Could I eat less chocolate, yeah probably. I still aim to be healthy and balanced and one day very soon I am going to focus on my fitness as well. But right now it's time to acknowledge the journey this body has been on, to make peace with the body that I have, this body that grew two awesome tiny humans.
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