It never ceases to fail that when I see friends or family – now seven months postpartum — I get scanned up and down with a “you look great!” comment. I quickly reply with “Thank you! I feel great!”
I never fully understood the subtle body judgment that goes on before and after pregnancy. There is an underlying notion that one shouldn’t gain more than twenty pounds or your baby could be too big to deliver and it’s harder to lose the weight after giving birth. I know every woman is different; we are all different body shapes and sizes.
One can only strive to be healthy and balance good eating habits before and after pregnancy. Exercise is most definitely important, and I was consistent during my pregnancy up until 37 weeks to help prepare my body for labor. My son was 10.8 pounds when they placed him on the scale, and I could not believe my eyes when he was born. I delivered him naturally and pushed him out in hour and a half. I had basically done a triathlon during my labor. I gained 18 pounds total and he was half of that. He was a big beautiful healthy boy and simply perfect.
Whenever I relay this, I get the automatic “OH MY GOD, He was so big! Wow. You look great! (Insert automatic story about how much weight they gained and then lost). Truth be told, I had never felt better. I know I didn’t look great. Not all of us can look as elegant and beautiful as Kate Middleton five minutes after pushing a baby out of our vagina. It’s the truth. More power to the mothers out there who can hit the gym within a week and get that Mom Bod back within a short time.
But the reality for me was that my son needed me more than I needed my pre-mom bod. The long nights of breastfeeding, diaper changing, and crying fests were the center of my focus. One month after giving birth, my husband and I decided to go for a walk. I nearly passed out. My body was not ready. I decided at four months to try Autumn’s Active Maternity Workout Series – Postpartum – (I also did this series while pregnant and highly recommend it!). It was brutal the first two weeks, but I did feel stronger as the days went by. My legs and back started gaining strength again.
Have I gotten that pre-mom bod back? Absolutely NOT.
The times I would look into the mirror I’d analyze this new body of mine with the tiger stripes across my lower belly. Yes, it was disfigured and swollen in certain areas. Would it ever go back to its original state? Probably not.
And if it did, the loose skin and stretch marks would remain. I remember how I felt an emptiness for the first three months in my belly of just missing my baby boy in my womb. The little flap of skin a reminder of my son’s human safety blanket.
As days went by, my body did this remarkable thing: it not only produced milk (food supply) for my son but it slowly healed and re-arranged itself into a new mold. I love this new disfigured mold. In fact, when I’m told I could get a tummy tuck or have my stretch marks lasered or go on a diet meal plan to lose the extra pounds – I just politely tune it out.
Moms out there, please stop yourself for a minute before talking about weight loss/gain to a mother who just had a baby. Perhaps like me she is not ashamed at all of her new Mom bod. Perhaps sharing stories about your babies’ breastfeeding journey, sleep training or baby milestones are more welcome. We should celebrate one another more for carrying and delivering babies into the world. We should worship our bodies as the vessels that carry these lives.
We should empower one another and compliment our motherhood which is a truly an amazing gift. My positive affirmation every time I pass a mirror is: “I am a warrior. My mom bod is a temple and I wear my stripes with pride.”