Let’s face it. Every baby leaves their own mark on our bodies.
After my first child, my arms grew. Don’t ask me how that’s even possible. All I know is: every long-sleeved shirt in my closet no longer touched my wrists once I got home from the hospital.
Baby number two, sweet little thing that she is…somehow she and her placenta-previa left me with stretch marks in places I never thought to put cocoa butter.
Baby three. I hold him responsible for my depleted stock. Let’s just say he nursed the life out right out of my breasts.
And, then, there’s my dear little grand finale. Would you believe my hair was stick straight and could not be paid to hold curl before he came along? Now, I actually have to fight random spirals with a straightener. It’s quite a switch.
Whether you are on your first baby or your eighth, you’ve probably realized that body changes are an inevitable part of pregnancy and post-partum life. If this is your first summer facing those new changes, swimsuit season may sound as appealing to you as cleaning up the aftermath of a stomach bug.
But, this is Dallas and hey, it’s h-o-t here. Trying to hide under that pool umbrella in your yoga pants will get uncomfortable come July.
I’m a fitness instructor. I know the truth about your body and its changes. And, that’s why, today I want to give you four tips for coping with your new “mom” body.
1. You Won’t Bounce Back as Quick as a Celebrity, and that’s Ok.
Since chances are you don’t have a personal chef or fitness trainer waiting for you to get home from the hospital, it may take you a little longer than Angelina, Halle, Gwen, Kim or Fergie. Reality is you are probably fighting hormones, sleep-deprivation and just trying to cope with the addition of a kiddo and the stress that comes with that. Remember, they are paid to look a certain way and thus, must sacrifice all else for that one objective. You, my dear mom, probably cannot. So, cut yourself some slack! (I wrote more about the hoax of celebrity post-baby bounce backs here.)
2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.
Our bodies adjust back to “normal” at different rates. Just because nursing helped her lose the baby weight in 2 months, reality is, it may take you longer. That’s ok. Wanting to get back into your skinny jeans as fast as “she did” may not actually be helpful for weight loss. It stresses you out and keeps you consumed and unhappy with your appearance. I also recommend skipping every magazine article that shows how quickly the starlet of the week was able to transform into an even better-built version of herself within minutes of giving birth. (Give me a break.) For the sake of your sanity, avoid these stories like those salespeople in the middle of the mall.
3. Skip “Love your Selfie”
Accept the fact that you may not be thrilled with your body’s every change. I loved so much Laura’s post where she confessed that she didn’t love her new “mommy” body and how tiring it is to hear endless weight loss tips. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a new mom to look in the mirror and be thrilled to spot stretch marks, saggy skin or breasts, or any of the other imprints that pregnancy and nursing leave in their wake. The key is to not love your body but to place your focus somewhere else. For example, realizing the sacrifice you’ve made to bring new life into the world may help you come to terms with the fact that things look a little different now.
4. Give Yourself Grace for the Road Ahead
You may have a long post-baby weight loss road ahead of you or you may be just five pounds from your goal, but–either way–give yourself grace for the journey. Stop trying to avoid the camera, swimwear, and shorts all summer and instead recognize that this is just a season. You may not be wearing that string bikini next month and that’s alright. You’ll have more time to get back to the gym or watch your diet more carefully when you are able to sleep for more than three hours straight and have a predictable routine. Have patience!
The old adage, “It took nine months to put it on, it’ll take nine months to get it off” may be deceiving. For many women, it takes longer than 9 months to lose it all. Give your body time to adjust and be encouraged that someday you will feel like your “old self” again… even if your outward appearance looks a little different.