There seem to be two camps out there with regards to postnatal bodies. The first camp is the “bounce back”… the celebs or Instagram women who somehow miraculously are “bouncing back” from pregnancy and fitting into their skinny jeans/bikinis just days after giving birth. Then there is the second camp, who are proud to love and embrace their postnatal bodies and see no rush to lose the baby weight.
Hopefully, you will know from Mama on the Move’s ethos that I definitely don’t fit in with the first camp – the “bouncing back” brigade. I do concur, that there are some “normal” women out there who naturally lose their baby weight very quickly and seemingly with little or no effort. Well, lucky them. The celebs mums, however, have nutritionists, dietitians, trainers, nannies, and basically every other resource they could possibly need to be able to focus on attaining the perfect physique. As model Chrissy Teigen recently admitted: “We have people who make it possible for us to get back into shape,” she said. “But nobody should feel like that’s normal, or like that’s realistic. Hurrah! Well said Chrissy, I totally agree. It’s okay to make peace with how we look after having a baby and not hold ourselves to impossible standards of beauty that were never realistic to be
On the other hand… I going to be a bit controversial and say I don’t completely buy into the “loving and embracing my postnatal body” camp either.
Now hear me out… I absolutely and completely agree with the concept and I absolutely love and respect what my body has achieved! It’s a miracle, it’s amazing and I am very very proud to have carried and birthed 3 babies. I think our bodies are INCREDIBLE. I am lucky that I felt great throughout all my pregnancies, but the postnatal part I do struggle with. You are left with a body that feels very very different to how it was. Of course it’s softer and squishier, usually battered and bruised all over from the labour and birth and on top of that you have crazy new milk filled boobs to contend with. You are constantly exhausted, usually sat hunched over feeding baby for most of the day and night or rocking baby in the same position for hours on end – all of which leaves you with back/shoulder/neck aches and pains. Understandably you don’t feel as physically strong or as fit as you were. So although I do love what my body has achieved, I also feel pretty sorry for it too! It’s really been through the mill. 9 months of pregnancy, birthing a baby and the aftermath! I feel it now needs some serious TLC and re-strengthening. I completely agree that losing the baby weight it not a priority in the early days and weeks – you need lots of nourishing and nutritional food to sustain you and your baby.
BUT, at some stage, slowly losing the baby weight IS going to help your body get back to optimum strength. By strengthening your deep core muscles you are going to help relieve that back pain and strengthen your pelvic floor, by taking part in regular, appropriate exercise you are going to relieve your aches and pains and feel fit and strong again. And my goodness you need to be strong as mother! The lifting, the carrying (not just baby but car seats, buggys etc) you will be constantly on the go! Most days I go to bed with my body aching more than had I done several hours of spin classes – and not in a good way! The plus side of safely losing your baby weight is that you have a functioning, strong body once again and yes let’s not get away from the fact you will also be fitting back into your pre pregnancy clothes. And for most (if not all) women, that is a huge achievement and also a massive self esteem boost. We can’t get away from it and I would be lying if I said fitting back into my clothes again wasn’t a massive plus. The point is it shouldn’t be the main focus as you will be doomed to fail if it is!
When you feel ready it is essential to start to focus on strengthening and improving your body’s function and health through good nutrition and safe and appropriate exercise. And let’s not forget the massive benefit regular exercise has on our mental well being too – being a mum is also mentally exhausting and the feel good endorphins from a workout can help brighten and lift our moods and make us happier mums. So yes, I am looking forward to getting back to the pre pregnancy fit, strong and healthy Laura so that I can run around after my 3 children happily and being able to do up my jeans comfortably will be an added extra. And whilst I am being kind and patient to my postnatal body, I won’t be sorry to see it go…..
Click here for safe and effective postnatal fitness and pilates programmes you can do in your own home or in the gym.