The Truth About Your Postpartum Body
Everyone always tells you how much your body will change after a baby, and while it may seem pretty obvious (I mean, you carried a human in your body for nine months, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know your body will change), there’s a lot of changes that occur that have nothing to do with the typical “your body will be bigger” aspect. In fact, that part is only a small part of it (and kind of the least significant). So, here’s everything I wish I knew about post-pregnancy body changes.
So many women I know experience swelling during their pregnancy. And it makes sense, you’re pumping more blood and retaining a ton of water, so things are bound to swell a bit. But, I was still wearing my wedding rings when I gave birth, and my feet never swelled (much to my chagrin because at a size 5.5, I actually wanted my feet to grow!) I thought I was one of the lucky ones. However, once I gave birth, my feet and legs swelled so much, I couldn’t even fit into my comfy leggings. I looked and felt bigger in those first few days post-labor than I had during most of my pregnancy. It was not fun. Fortunately, it only lasted about a week, but I wish I had been prepared to feel like Violet Beauregarde after I had already given birth.
I gained 35 pounds during my pregnancy (they recommend 25-30, so it was on the higher side). The first time I stepped on a scale (which was about a week after I had given birth) I had already lost 15 of it. And this was when I was still extremely swollen! That felt really encouraging. The next week, I had dropped another 5, making my grand total around 20. This is going to be easy! I foolishly calculated that at that rate, I’d be down to my pre-pregnancy weight in no time. And then the weight loss petered out. It didn’t stop completely because of another reason I discuss below, but instead of losing 5-10 pound chunks each week, it was more like 1/2 pound or a full pound if I was lucky and diligent. It got a little easier once I got the go-ahead to start working out again around 6 weeks, but then it became less about weight loss and more about toning up and my pre-pregnancy clothes fitting better. The point is, the women who are back down to their pre-baby bodies in 3 months most likely have extreme discipline, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, and more than likely, all 3.
You’re Still Eating For Two (if breastfeeding)
The entire time I was pregnant I kept saying to myself “I can’t wait until I’m not pregnant so that I can do (fill in the blank).” Most of the time it had to do with food I was restricting myself from, like coffee and wine and sushi and weed (okay, I know weed isn’t necessarily a food, but you get my point). But here’s the thing, when you’re breastfeeding, you’ll be more cognizant of the things you put into your body because now you can actually see yourself feeding your baby (as opposed to imagining the umbilical cord nourishing your growing fetus). All that wine I wanted to guzzle down? It’s more like 1 glass timed perfectly between feedings. Sushi? Baby’s system can’t handle that much mercury, so that also has to be consumed in moderation. And weed? Well, that’s just out of the question for now. Also, your baby will start to have their own food preferences. For example, my son will get fussy if I have more than one cup of coffee a day, and that one cup also has to be timed out in between feedings. So now I’m extra sleep deprived and I can’t even rely on caffeine to save me! I’ve also learned spicy foods and broccoli give him horrible gas and must be avoided. As I found out, that whole expression “eating for 2” doesn’t even apply until after the baby is born. The good news is I’m eating healthier now than I was during my pregnancy, which definitely helps with weight loss and just feeling better. So, that’s a bonus.
Your Body Will Be Different
And I’m not talking about weight-wise. Your hips, feet, nose, and tummy may all be permanently bigger. Your ass will be flatter (it’s called mom-butt and I didn’t know it was a thing, but it is most certainly a thing, even amongst the most bootylicious). Your boobs will be both bigger and saggier at the same time (it sucks). You might have stretch marks and a linea nigra that doesn’t fade right away. You might have all of these things or only a few of these things. Or maybe you don’t have any of these things, and in that case, consider yourself a lucky lady. But chances are, you’ll have a few “battle scars” on your bod that show your new status as a mom.
I used to see women who would take out their boob in public to nurse and think to myself, “wow, they’re so daring! I’ll be much more modest when I have a baby.” And then I had my own baby and I’m sitting with my boob out as I’m typing this. Once you have a baby, you just don’t have time for modesty. If the baby is hungry and wants to eat, I don’t really care if someone is going to be staring at my exposed breasts, I care about my baby getting the food he needs. Same thing goes for when I manage to get into the shower and don’t have enough time to dry off or put on a towel before checking to make sure the baby is still safely in his bassinet. Besides, nothing will curtail your modesty more than pushing a baby out of your vagina in a room full of relative strangers.
You May Not Feel as Sexy
Before when I would walk around the house naked, it would be to seduce my husband. Now, it’s because the baby is asleep in our room and my pajamas are in the laundry room. And the sexy little thongs and lacy bras I used to wear? They are buried deep in the bottom of my drawer with no immediate plans to return. Lipstick is now reserved for special occasions because otherwise my son will be covered in it, and it’s not quite his look. That’s not to say I won’t occasionally glance at my awesome new cleavage in the mirror and think, “mama’s still got it” (which I’ve said… out loud… and maybe also captioned on instagram), but I’m also not thinking about it most of the time. I think in our society, we tend to sexualize the female body so often, that after you have a baby you realize your body is much more than that. It serves a higher purpose. Which brings me to…
Greater Appreciation of It
Despite all the changes (and sometimes frustrating changes), I guarantee you’ll also have a greater appreciation of your body. You realize it’s more than “just a body” — it’s a source of nourishment; a vessel for life. You grew an entire human being in your body from scratch, pushed it out, and then become its’ only source of fuel. So when my pants don’t fit the way they used to, or my hips seem like they deserve their own zip code, or when I realize I’ve been walking around with my boob out all day, I still feel like a bad ass because I created a pretty awesome little baby. And that is truly amazing.