My postpartum body and the advice I wish I would have received earlier

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, I gave birth almost 10 months ago and my postpartum body still doesn’t even really resemble my pre-pregnancy body. I think a lot of people assume that ‘getting back to your pre-pregnancy body’ is all about losing weight, and that if you lose the weight your body is miraculously back to ‘normal’. This is actually pretty far from the truth.

I mean, if you would have known me before I got pregnant and saw me now, you would think I look exactly the same – but I certainly don’t feel the same.

My postpartum body challenges and the advice I wish I had received earlier.

This picture was taken the day we found out we were pregnant!

For instance…

  • I’m 10 pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant, because I’ve managed to lose almost all of my muscle. Before I got pregnant I was very into running and Crossfit, and now I’m very into mere survival. (Although I do a bit of yoga and pilates on the side.)
  • My boobs are bigger – but thankfully aren’t as engorged as they used to be, even when they’re full of milk.
  • My legs and butt are smaller. WAY smaller.
  • I am tired. So, so tired. Not the kind of tired that I used to feel when I didn’t get enough sleep, but the kind of tired that I feel after working out the day before. My body is simply worn out.
  • I am always hungry and I never feel full.
  • My nipples hurt (because – a little bit unfortunately – Clara has seven teeth now!)
  • I’m not as strong as I used to be, and my core is especially weak.
  • My hair is growing back in (since I lost some of it the first few months postpartum) and now I have all of these baby hairs framing my face.
  • My period still hasn’t come back, which is something I’m not actually complaining about, but this also means I’m dealing with whacky hormones which bring sexy side effects like vaginal dryness (I really never thought I’d say that on this blog, but it’s the truth!)
  • I have a scar from the c-section, that I’m actually quite proud of. The doctor advised me to put some cream on it to help it fade, but I like it.
  • My abs split (diastasis recti is the ‘technical’ term) during early pregnancy and I’m still working on getting them back together.

Awesome stuff, right?!

My postpartum body challenges and the advice I wish I had received earlier.

Note: I was 2 days overdue when this pic was taken and went 8 days past this point! It was definitely not my most attractive phase and it was also as uncomfortable as it looks.

A lot of these ‘problems’ will go away on their own with time. I’m choosing to continue breastfeeding Clara, who is 10 months old in a few days, and once she weans (whenever that may be), my hormones should even out and my boobs will probably sag (you win some and you lose some, I guess!).

But one thing that has really helped me during the past month is going to physical therapy. I wish someone had told me to do this sooner, because (with a doctor’s note) physical therapy is mostly covered by my insurance and has been critical in me getting back into my groove. Through physical therapy I’ve been able to almost completely repair my abs, I’ve gotten a ton of core strength back, and we’re actively working on my posture while sitting, standing, and walking.

My physical therapist pointed out that I have still been walking around with an arched back, but since I’m not pregnant I clearly don’t need to be walking like that! I guess it was just a bad habit and I honestly had no idea I was walking with such horrible form.

Plus, after I started working out again (post-baby), I managed to injure some muscles because they just weren’t used to strenuous activity after so many months off. Well, physical therapy is helping with those injuries, too.

Basically, if I can give new moms even more advice – I would say get to physical therapy as soon as you feel up to it after your baby is born, or even while you’re pregnant! My physical therapist works with pregnant women to prepare their bodies for birth, and the next time I get pregnant (God willing), I’ll be showing up regularly to hopefully avoid some of the problems before they start.

Remember to ask your OB for a referral, so you can go to a physical therapist who specializes in postpartum challenges and so your insurance will cover your sessions.

Also, let’s give each other and ourselves a lot of grace. Our miraculous bodies created human life for about nine months and we shouldn’t expect them to bounce back quickly after giving birth! Healing requires time and patience and some hard work. Yes, I know that some moms struggle to lose baby weight and that might be the most obvious change/struggle, but postpartum body challenges can include so much more than what meets the eye.

Be patient, but take the initiative to work at repairing yourself – you deserve it!

This entry was posted in health, pregnancy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.