Hi friends! With Ainsley’s pregnancy, I really wanted to write about my postpartum fitness and health journey but the best laid plans never came to be and I didn’t document the process the way that I had hoped. My friend Robin’s blog was a tremendous encouragement to me when I was postpartum both with Ainsley and this time around. She took such a balanced, moderate approach to getting back in shape after baby and I was so encouraged by how kind and gentle she was to her body during that tender time after baby.
I’ve heard plenty of people say, “It takes 9 months to put it on, it takes 9 months to take it off.” Which is great in theory, but it’s also hard to understand what that looks like in practice when you look at your postpartum body for the first (or 15th) time and are a little shocked and maybe a tad dismayed at what you’re left to work with.
One thing I’m not going to do? Share any shirtless photos or bikini shots of my postpartum progress. I did take them, for my own benefit and progress tracking, but I don’t want anyone to get wrapped up in my journey or have this series serve as a form of comparison for anyone. It should be nothing but some honest reflections and encouragement, with a little perspective, too, given that I’ve gone through this once before. Perspective is a game changer!
During this pregnancy, my weight gain landed around 37 pounds. My pre-pregnancy weight is usually around 140 (I’m 5’10) and I topped out with this pregnancy at 177 pounds, for reference. This was a few pounds more than Ainsley, but pretty comparable to the first go-around. I gained a lot of weight during the first half of the pregnancy and then things leveled off a bit as the pregnancy went out. I had to repeat the mantra “trust your body” time and time again, believing that my body knew exactly what it was doing and would grow the way it needed to grow.
The first few weeks, I’ve made it a goal to focus on nourishing my body and treating it gently. Having a toddler, I haven’t been able to rest quite as much as I would have liked to speed the healing process (I did have some minor tearing during delivery) but that’s just the nature of the beast with a toddler and a baby. From the beginning, I felt really good postpartum from day 1. I’m not sure if it was not having an epidural or just being in better physical shape, or maybe a combination of the two? Feeling so good was a blessing and a curse since I think I may have pushed myself a little too fast during the first week or two.
My focus during these first three weeks has been to rest when possible, sleep when the kiddos sleep (they have been napping together in the afternoons), drinking plenty of water and eating a large amount of nourishing food to help my body recover and establish my milk supply. When you’re sleep deprived, most people tend to grab sugary, greasy foods and plenty of refined carbs for instant energy, but I’ve been avoiding those foods as much as possible and focusing on lots of oatmeal in the morning, nut and seed butters, vegetables, fruits, eggs, whole grains and legumes. I’m certainly not “dieting” during this time at all, just loading up on large servings of the good stuff.
I’m also snacking frequently (usually a morning and afternoon snack) and limiting my caffeine intake to a cup or two in the morning as to not mess up baby’s sleep schedule and nighttime sleep. Smoothies have been my best friend, and for the most part I’ve been avoiding all dairy since it doesn’t sit well with me and many newborns don’t do well with it, either. But that’s more of a personal choice!
I’ve found that my body tends to lose weight quickly at first, then stall a little bit. With Ainsley, my body hung on to an extra 5 to 10 pounds while breastfeeding, so we will see if that trend continues this time around. I did buy a decent amount of clothing to ease myself into the postpartum period – dresses that are nursing-friendly, flowy and a few pairs of pants and shorts in larger sizes so I can feel like I’m wearing normal clothes even if I don’t fit into all my pre-baby clothing. For me, getting showered and dressed in real clothes most days does wonders for my mental and emotional state during these early weeks!
As far as workouts or being active goes, my doctor told me that I could start exercising lightly as soon as I felt ready, perhaps around 3 or 4 weeks postpartum. And while I’m waiting for the six week check-up to officially get back into real workouts, after the two week mark I felt ready to start walking longer distances and getting out and about with the girls. The weather is beautiful right now, so long stroller walks to the park have been very common. I have a small amount of diastasis recti as well, so I’ve been doing exercises recommended by a physical therapist for healing the diastasis before resuming more active core exercises.
Real talk? The first week or two it was easy to feel really good in my post baby body. I birthed a human! I was momma to a beautiful baby girl! I was really good at giving myself lots of grace, but the last week or so I’ve found some unhealthy thoughts creeping into my head about my post-baby body. The squishy tummy that I look at multiple times per day when I feed Collins, the way my clothes fit differently than before, the fact that I’ve got some work to do before I’m back in fighting shape. I think that lack of sleep plays into this big time. I mean, is anyone at their best mentally when they are really tired? But I’ve been continuing to repeat affirming thoughts and words of grace over my body in its current state. I’ve got plenty of time to get back into fighting shape, so for now I’m enjoying the slow, easy walks and taking my former workout time and using it to nap, instead. 🙂
I’m planning on doing another update at the 3 month mark, but for now that’s all I’ve got! 🙂