When I first got pregnant one of my main concerns was how my body would change and transform over the months ahead. It may sound a little self-centered, but I had worked hard to get my body to a place athletically that made me feel strong and confident. To give that up and not have any control for an entire year was difficult for me to embrace. I even met with a counselor early on in my pregnancy to help me transition into this new role and body, and discuss my fears of becoming a new mom. Communicating these worries, with the support and presence of my husband, really helped me gain a new perspective and develop a new mindset about pregnancy. With a little acceptance and self-compassion, I decided to embrace the changes that would take place over the 9 months of pregnancy. It wasn’t always easy, and I surely had my moments of weakness breaking down when something would no longer fit or watching my weight surpass the “recommended” numbers, but I always reminded myself of the importance of the life inside of me.
One thing that I was not prepared for and did not give much thought to when I was pregnant was how my body would reshape itself and appear in the weeks following pregnancy. Out of curiosity the other day, and a desire to have more than two or three go-to comfy outfits, I tried on some of my pre-pregnancy clothes, including jeans, tops, and active wear. This may or may not have been a mistake. While I could still “semi-fit” into my clothing, everything was tight and I felt like my mid-region and limbs were suffocating within seconds. My first reaction was to become discouraged as I looked at my closet filled with clothes I could not longer wear, but then I took a step back, dried my eyes, and reminded myself that 9-months of change does not bounce back overnight. And while it may have been discouraging, I would not be discouraged.
I am in an awkward stage right now. I’m not pregnant, I’m not able to exercise (yet!) aside from all of the walking I am doing, and I’m not anywhere near my pre-pregnancy size. Maternity clothes are too big or just look awkward, and my pre-pregnancy clothes are super tight. I’ve been living in three or four outfits (primarily maxi-skirts) that make me feel semi-comfortable going out in public. Obviously with colder weather on the way, I am going to need some transition clothing to get me through this awkward phase. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime and online shopping, as trying to go to the mall or shop around town is nearly impossible right now with a newborn.
Recovery has been slow and steady, as it should be. I am starting to feel normal again, minus the sleep deprivation and general fatigue that comes with caring for a newborn, and am adjusting to my new body and routine. Surprisingly, I have lost a lot of weight in the weeks since giving birth to Axel. Breastfeeding and maintaining a healthy diet are obviously working some kind of wonders, and now I just need the green light from my doctor to resume my exercise and training regimen. Here is a little rundown of the changes I have endured since January.
Pre-pregnancy weight: 140 pounds
Weight at 38 weeks pregnant: 183 pounds
Weight at 1 week postpartum: 163 pounds
Weight at 2 weeks postpartum: 155 pounds
Weight at 3 weeks postpartum: 152 pounds
At lot of my weight loss occurred in the first two weeks immediately following delivery and has now stabilized. I did not expect this at all and was amazed by the body’s natural ability to convert back to its original form. While I did not get any stretch marks during pregnancy (I used Mambino Belly Butter twice a day – and am still using it to keep my belly moist), my tummy definitely softened and I now have a lot of loose skin. I have read that it can take months for elasticity to kick in and for the linea nigra to disappear. Patience, grasshopper. Patience.
I was surprised when the nurse told me I would need to consume an additional 500 calories per day to offset the calories I would burn to make breast milk. Breastfeeding definitely keeps me in a state of constant hunger. I tend to snack and graze all day and eat when the hunger cues kick in every few hours. For the most part I am eating very healthy and am trying to limit sugar intake. I feel like sugar makes Axel fussy at night. Water is still my go-to beverage of choice and I drink anywhere from 150-200oz a day. Hydration is incredibly important when breastfeeding. Now that I am feeling good, I try to take Axel out in the jogger and walk a few miles a day. Psychologically there is something to be said for fresh air and a little rush of endorphins. Plus, Axel loves the jogger and I’m convinced he sleeps better at night when we take him for long walks during the day.
Surprisingly, losing weight has not been a priority of mine since Axel has arrived. I thought it would be, but it’s not. Am I in a rush to get to my pre-baby body back? Not really. Yes, part of me really wants to quickly bounce back and be able to fit into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe, but that just is not a reality right now. I am aware that my body will likely want to hold on to a little extra fat/weight while I am breastfeeding to assure that Axel will always be taken care of. Right now, feeding and providing nourishment for him is my number one priority. At some point I am going to have to figure out the balance between maintaining a healthy milk supply and getting rid of the excess pounds… but that won’t be until I start getting back into a regular exercise routine.
For now, my recovery is all about balance and learning to live flexibly around Axel’s schedule (or lack thereof). As someone who studied body image extensively and wrote my dissertation on the subject, and who is very structured and thrives off of routine, these have been the biggest challenges/struggles for me during pregnancy and since Axel’s arrival. Thankfully I have a lot of support to help me through this transition period.
What continues to amaze me is that my body grew a tiny human being… in NINE months. If that isn’t some kind of miracle, I don’t know what is. I owe it to myself and my body to be patient and not be too rigid in my expectations.