A friend of mine has told the story about her first trip to a store after having her first daughter. It was two weeks after her daughter’s birth, and she needed diapers. When my friend went to check out, the very friendly – probably too friendly – cashier smiled happily and asked, “When are you due?”
Not wanting to say, “I actually had the baby two weeks ago!” my friend cheerfully responded, “Oh, next week” and laughed it off. Because she’s amazing and super comfortable in her own skin.
Not all of us are as confident and comfortable as she is, though.
When I had my first child, I had imagined that I would be in regular clothes as soon as I left the hospital – or at least within the first week. I had friends tell me they lost 20 pounds while in the hospital – the weight just melted off! Like magic!
My daughter weighed six pounds when she was born, and when I left the hospital, I was six pounds lighter than when I arrived.
It’s hard after having a baby. It’s really hard. Not only are you dealing with hormones raging off the charts and caring for this itsy itsy baby, but you’re also dealing with a range of other issues – family arriving, pain from giving birth (vaginal or C-section, it’s going to be rough), breastfeeding issues, sleep deprivation – the list goes on and on. And to top it off, you may have these dreams of immediately dropping the weight as soon as the baby is born – and find yourself a month later still in maternity clothes.
Here are some tips from someone who has been there (and who is partially writing this as a reminder for this summer when Baby No. 2 comes) for when you are discouraged about your postpartum body.
1. Celebrate the little things.
I was so excited after six weeks when I could finally fit into my, ahem, larger wardrobe that I had almost given away. The jeans barely zipped, the shirt showed my muffin top more than adequately (and I have family pictures to prove it), but I was so excited about being in something other than maternity clothes – even if I did switch back into sweatpants as soon as the pictures were taken.
2. Remember: no body is the same as another.
While for some of my friends, the pregnancy weight did fall off (and I eyed them enviously), for others, the struggle was harder – even with breastfeeding. One of my friends couldn’t understand why she wasn’t losing weight, even though she was breastfeeding like another nursing friend, who was losing weight by just blinking it seemed. She was watching what she ate, she was exercising, but it was still really hard for her to lose her pregnancy weight. The problem was this: everyone’s bodies are different. You can’t compare your body to the body of someone else. Do what works for you – and be proud of your body, which produced that amazing child!
3. Set little goals – not large ones.
Listen. You’re going to be tired. Don’t set goals that are too lofty. Because I had been able to run up until the day before I gave birth, I assumed (heaven help me) that I could get right back in the swing of things after birth. Ha. HA HA HA. Oh, sweet innocent past me.
To be honest, I did run two miles two weeks after Alice was born. But it was after my husband had taken all the night shifts the night before, and it was another two weeks before I ventured out again. My runs after having Alice were slower – and most of the time involved me pushing a jogging stroller.
Things are definitely different with a child – but they’re good, too. You will get back to your pre-pregnancy weight – though your shape may change (or at least mine did). You will get back to exercising – but take it easy and focus on yourself and your newly expanded family.
Who knows? You may be one of the lucky ones who is even skinnier a month after giving birth than before pregnancy. But, if you’re not, that’s okay. Trust me. It took me about a year and a half to get at the weight I wanted, which was actually less than I weighed than when I got pregnant the first time. And what did I do then?
Well, I decided to give this whole baby thing a go again.
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