If you’ve given birth at some point in the recent past, then I’m sure you’ve either asked, been asked, googled, or at least wondered “How do I get my body back?”. We’re blasted with photos of celebs and social media “celebs” boasting how they lost all the weight like two seconds after they pushed the baby out. And we see women criticized and judged when they aren’t magically back to being “normal” by week six. Even though I am so far from any type of celeb status, the pressure to “get my body back” has been so real.
Fitness and being in shape wasn’t really a big focus of mine until after I had Porter. I started eating healthy a year or so after having Evan, but I wasn’t working out. A couple of months after having Porter, working out became part of my everyday routine, and it stayed that way for a couple of years and even into my pregnancy with Gibson. My third pregnancy was the first pregnancy I consistently worked out through. I remember scrolling through instagram and following along with a few bloggers and thinking how awesome it was going to be to bounce back after I had him. I saw them doing it! I just knew the weight would come right off because I had my exercise plan in place and I’ve heard about how the weight will drop off quickly when you breastfeed. I only nursed Evan for about 3.5 months, and I didn’t nurse Porter a single day, so I didn’t really know much about that. But everyone said it so I figured it was true.
You know what? IT’S NOT FREAKING TRUE. Sure, the first few weeks after he was born I was scarfing down casseroles and king cake like a boss, and I was watching the scale drop. But then it stopped. And honestly? It hasn’t moved since, except for going up on occasion.
So I’m sorry if I’m the bearer of bad news for some of you. But, dang, I wish I had fully known some of this beforehand. I was watching all these other moms post about how they bounced back so easily, sharing pictures of their bodies changing. And mine wasn’t doing any of that. It’s so easy to start feeling down on yourself.
I stopped stressing about it for a while, but then tried to make another focused attempt to drop the last 10-15 pounds still hanging on around my mid section. I had the Whole 30 rules in front of me; I’d seen the pins about doing Whole 30 while breastfeeding and knew I could totally handle doing it too. About three days in, I had a screaming baby every evening because my body was just not making enough milk. At that moment I had to decide what was more important – losing weight or being able to breastfeed my baby.
Breastfeeding won out for me.
I Amazon Primed some supplements, pumped in between every feeding, got my husband to pick up some dark beer, ate lactation cookies, oatmeal with flax seed…you name it, I tried it. And little by little my supply increased.
I have learned that I can’t really watch what I eat with a nursing baby. And even if I want to watch what I’m eating, I’m ravenously hungry about every 5 minutes. Am I eating ice cream and cookies all day long? No. But I’m eating what I want, and I’m eating often. And I have a super happy and well fed baby because of it.
I’ve also learned that my body is probably going to hold on to a few extra pounds until I’m done being a food source for someone else. That’s how God made it to function. And until I’m done with nursing, I’m just going to have to be ok with that. And that it’s going to be ok to have some extra weight; who gives a crap if anyone thinks otherwise. This is honestly something I have to constantly remind myself. At first was a multiple-times-per-day reminder, but it’s becoming less frequent as I learn to love where I’m at.
But more than anything I have learned that you can’t get your pre-baby body back. Sure, you can get back in shape and maybe even more in shape than you were before kids. But my body was home to the life of my child. It carried and nurtured that sweet baby (and two before him). So it’s not going to ever be “pre-baby”. And I don’t really want it to be. I don’t want to go back to the body I had before kids because then I wouldn’t have my kids. These hips of mine? They may be a little bigger. But they’re the perfect place to hold a wiggly baby while I cook dinner or help my three year old put his shoes on. Would I love to have a smooth and stretch-mark-free stomach? Yeah. But that would mean my stomach never grew to hold my babies inside of me.
And so I’m going to give myself some freaking grace. I’m going to embrace this new body of mine. This body that carried three babies to term, and is now working to provide nourishment for my beautiful boy. I’m going to be thankful for my wider hips and looser skin. I can decide that it’s beautiful. And when I change my perspective and mindset every time I look in the mirror, I take the power away from the negativity and judgment from myself and others. What a privilege it has been to be pregnant. What an honor to have been the home where my boys grew. I don’t ever want to diminish that by complaining and hating the way I look.
Mamas, did you struggle with any of these issues after having babies? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!