I’ve been rolling around an idea for a post on postpartum for a while, but it can be a vulnerable and sharp subject, so I’ve kept the idea tucked away in the back of my mind. Two recent postpartum updates from moms I follow on Instagram inspired me to do the damn thing. One discusses physical health postpartum, the other, mental/emotional. Both are areas I’ve struggled with in the 16 months since the birth of my daughter, and I write this post hoping that I’m not the only one. I write this post to maybe let a few people know that they aren’t the only ones, either.
In the physical realm: One day, I stumbled upon an Instamom I follow explaining very nonchalantly about one month after giving birth to her third child that she tends to hold on to about 12-15 lbs of weight until after she stops breastfeeding. I was struck with admiration by how easily this mom seemed to reconcile with this fact. How matter-of-factly she said it, just like saying her hair was blonde or it was cold outside today. We new moms are so pressured to “lose the baby weight” and to look like our previous selves so quickly after birth that I couldn’t imagine feeling ok with having 12-15 extra lbs on me. In fact, I remember a close friend telling me the same about breastfeeding before I had Lucy and thinking, “Oh, that won’t be me.” Well, friends, it IS me, and I WISH I was as nonchalant about it as that girl I follow.
I am exactly 12 lbs heavier than my pre-baby weight, and often this upsets me. But I am still breastfeeding, and the truth is it took my body much longer than the 6 weeks recommended by physicians to recover enough to do hard exercise. I was extremely weak after giving birth, whether that be from months of no exercise because of all day morning sickness or from pushing an 8 lb 12 oz child out of me…or just my body’s natural response to the trauma of childbirth and change in hormones. I spent most of the last year thinking something must be wrong with me, and trying to get back into the swing of the tough workouts that I prided myself on being able to do in the past and enjoyed doing.
But what I want to emphasize in this post, what we need to talk about more, is how very NORMAL all of this is. Why shouldn’t we all be so comfortable with the extra weight we might carry after childbirth? Why should we be scurrying to get back on the workout wagon weeks after giving birth (unless we feel ready and want to)? More often than not, a friend or relative of mine does not have a few weeks-long recovery from birth, and we need to know this is NORMAL. I even asked an OB/GYN at a recent annual appointment about my experience and she reassured me that it usually takes at least a year to recover fully from childbirth. ONE WHOLE YEAR! Why didn’t I know this? Why don’t we talk about this? Why don’t we expect this year of recovery instead of the 6 weeks or few months that we do and then feel crappy about not achieving?
I have very recently, 16 months postpartum, begun to feel physically more like my pre-pregnant self. It’s been a frustrating road, with slow progress despite lots of dedication to workouts with my girl Jillian Michaels (seriously check out her app if you enjoy working out!). Honestly, I probably could have gotten here faster had I been more strict in my diet. But I’ve been on that restrictive eating train before, and I’ve also been raising a BABY for goodness sake, so I’m working on practicing self-forgiveness and self-love and soaking up this little girl as much as I can. I also recognize that not all moms enjoy working out or have weightloss as a goal. But if you do and you’re feeling a little behind in the recovery train months or even a year after birth…I’m hoping that more posts like these can normalize experiences like mine and maybe reassure even one other new mom that she’s not alone in hers.
I didn’t expect this to be so lengthy, so I’ll have to dig into that mental/emotional stuff another day!
Do you have any physical postpartum struggles or triumphs you want to share? I’m all ears!
What We Are Wearing: