Among my mom friends, getting their pre-baby body back is a huge topic. I cringe at the thought of it, actually — only because I think society puts so much pressure on new moms to get right back to their pre-baby body. I feel like those expectations put unrealistic pressure on women, and it gives women false hope of what is attainable. We’re not all the same.
So, here is MY truth about what it was like trying to get my pre-baby body back.
First off, I had to stop comparing myself to other moms. Every person is unique in their genetics, and their bodies are going to change in different ways when they have children. Some women may go right back to their shape before. My brother’s wife is that way. Two months after she gives birth, you can’t even tell she had a baby. I have had to keep my jealousy at bay, because my body is not like that. I hang on to the pregnancy pounds — and I know my shape won’t ever be the same as it was when I was 16.
In fact, most likely your body will never be exactly like it was before you had children — and THAT’S OKAY. My hips got wider, and my tummy stretched out. You may have some stretch marks, but that’s just proof of the incredible miracle that happened inside of your body. There are some good creams you can use to reduce the darkness of the stretch marks, so check those out of you are insecure about them. But rest assured, most women have them. You aren’t alone.
While I was pregnant, I did try working out, but it was so hard for me! Usually, I really enjoy going to the gym. I can do the elliptical machine for an hour straight, and I love it. However, during pregnancy, I got winded very quickly and my feet would always go numb any time I did cardio. I think because I’m petite, being pregnant put a lot of pressure on my hips, and my circulation was affected because of it. So, the best work out for me was in the pool. The feeling of weightlessness was amazing.
As far as hitting the gym after I gave birth — my babies did better in the childcare part of the gym when they were younger. There wasn’t as high of a chance as separation anxiety because they weren’t old enough to realize what was even going on. So, when I started hitting the gym when Bentley was 3 months old, I had a pretty easy time and didn’t have my workouts interrupted by the childcare department needing me.
With all that said, it’s tough to find time to get to the gym when you have a newborn, and I think it’s important to enjoy some downtime at home the first month to six weeks after you give birth. Your doctor won’t even want you to come back in for 6 weeks after you give birth, so it’s probably best to not be on a treadmill right after you have your baby. Give yourself a break. You’ve earned it.
The one thing that really worked for me, though, was being conscious of what I was eating while I was pregnant. So many people say that when you’re pregnant you should “eat for two” — when you are really only supposed to add a few hundred calories more to your caloric intake. When I was pregnant with KJ, I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I gained 45 pounds. That wasn’t terrible, but I just wasn’t being very careful with my calories and food intake. When I got pregnant with Bentley, I was more active and I drank a protein shake with a banana in it every single morning. It was actually my only craving during that pregnancy, and that time, I gained 16 pounds.
Also, know that you will continue to look pregnant for at least a couple of weeks after you give birth. Your stomach muscles will be stretched, and you will be swollen a bit — so don’t bring a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans thinking you will wear them home from the hospital. And don’t listen to the women who actually do fit into those jeans right after. That isn’t normal.
Above all, I hope that you aren’t too hard on yourself. The media may portray new mothers in a certain way, but know that a lot of that is edited and unrealistic. Don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself to bounce back right away. Try to eat healthy during pregnancy and not over-indulge, stay active — and once you give birth, give yourself some time to relax before slowly getting back into a gym routine.
Your body may never be what it was before, but it is beautiful no matter what. Take pride in the fact that your body made a tiny human and you gave birth to that miracle! Way to go, mom!