Okay, just a disclaimer before we begin. If you’re looking for an article like “5 exercises to lose your pregnancy weight and look like a fitness star with rock hard abs and the cheekiest booty in 5 days” or something to that effect--this isn’t for you. This article is for anyone looking for an honest discussion about the expectations we are placing on women, and some sound advice regarding your postpartum fitness. So please continue to read and pay attention because what I’m about to say is much more important than any life-hack on how to lose weight.
When you stop to think about it, pregnancy is truly an incredible thing. The ability that women have, to grow and carry a tiny human inside of our bellies is life’s greatest miracle. I think we often forget just how amazing it really is! I think that it is downplayed today because we live in a time where women want to and are celebrated for the fact that we can do it all! We often have the career and the baby/family life. If you’re a domestic mama goddess, well that alone is a full-time job. Adding any more to your plate seems insane. And yet many of us are living it up at life’s all-you-can-eat buffet. To all the boss babes working all day and all night, carrying your baby and living your career dreams I salute you. And fellas, celebrate the females in your life for all that they do! Insider tip—most women appreciate the recognition. I’ve always admired the strength of the female but let me tell you—after having two babies and two tough pregnancies, my respect for women has grown immensely. I think that it is just a natural progression for that appreciation to grow. Like anything else in life really; the more you experience, the more you can appreciate. So, with being said, ladies I am giving you this message of positivity because you deserve it! And I want you to know that if you are a male, or a woman who is not at that pregnancy stage in life, or it’s not a part of your plan, well this article is still for you. Why? Because we all have/had a mom, or we have a girlfriend or a family member who is pregnant, or you have thoughts to procreate one day in the future. At one point in our lives we will know someone who is pregnant. So, let’s get to it!
It took your body a full NINE MONTHS to change, evolve, and expand, in order to grow and give birth to your baby. Logically, it only makes sense that you give yourself at least that same amount of time to lose the weight and get your body back.
Let’s just eliminate this expectation that our bodies should just instantly bounce back like nothing ever happened.
Losing the "baby weight"
It is no secret that during pregnancy there is the associated weight gain. The amount varies between women. However, the expectation to get our “pre-baby” body back is the same across the board no matter how much you have gained. What I want the take away from this article to be is this: It took your body a full NINE MONTHS to change, evolve, and expand, in order to grow and give birth to your baby. Logically, it only makes sense that you give yourself at least that same amount of time to lose the weight and get your body back.Tell this to anyone you love who is pregnant or just had their baby (in the least judgemental way possible because you also don’t want to mess with a mama’s hormones). My point is, we need to spread this message to all the ladies out there: 9 months to gain the weight = 9 months to lose the weight…AT LEAST! Let’s just eliminate this expectation that our bodies should just instantly bounce back like nothing ever happened.
It is also important to understand that your pre-baby body no longer exists. I’m not sorry for saying that because I say it with love. Things happen during pregnancy, delivery, and postnatally. You may have had a c-section for example. So now your belly will have a beautiful memento of the day your babe made their debut in this world. If you are breastfeeding, your breasts have changed in their function in order to nourish your sweet little cherub. They will be a different size, shape, and will inevitably change again when you stop nursing. These are the facts. Let’s compare pregnancy to adolescence, shall we? Your pre-pubescent body was very different than it is now, and it will never go back to the way it was before. Your hormones and growth phases allowed you to evolve into adulthood. Everyone understands this as part of aging and maturation. I feel the same should be true of pregnancy. And all this pressure to get our body “back”, I think we should do without. The day you got pregnant, your body began its evolution into motherhood. A fact that you should be proud of.
When you feel ready to get back into your fitness routine here’s my advice:
1. First and foremost, get the green light from your doctor or #midwife– general guidelines tell us to wait 6 weeks postpartum before beginning any exercise. This may vary depending on your pregnancy and delivery. The best person to check in with is the medical professional who has been monitoring you throughout the duration of pregnancy beforeyou start exercising.
2. Evaluate the state of your core (including abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and diaphragmatic strength)– there are many different types of practitioners out there who can help in this area. I would advise you to speak to your doctor or midwife. Have them do a few routine tests/checks regarding these muscles. You may come to know what #diastasisrecti is even if you are not fluent in Latin. But it will be important to know in order to tailor your workouts. If they are not fully specialized, then find a pelvic floor specialist near you! It is so important…don’t believe me? Well girlfriend, you’ll find out what all those bladder leak commercials are talking about soon enough.
3. Start slow– Do not jump back into the level of activity you were doing prior to conception. Your body is different in many ways. Your hormone state has altered your muscle strength, ligament tension, your blood volume has increased and decreased drastically over the past 9 months, I mean even your hair has changed! Ease back into your fitness routine and start with the basics.
4. Low impact -- Do take part in low impact activities like walking. Stroller walks are a new mom’s BFF. Too cold out? Get to a mall and you’ll see other mamas like yourself pushing their baby jogger or Diono stroller…and you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a secret society pre-baby you never realized existed! Swimming is another fantastic option as it is gentle on the joints and easy on the pelvic floor. It is a great cardiovascular exercise and great for increasing back and core strength.
5. Listen to your body– if you’re tired then rest. If you’re hungry, then eat (healthy options). The weight will come off in good time; and naturally as your body changes once again to pre-pregnancy status. When your hormones begin to balance out then losing the weight will get easier, and you will feel a difference in your energy output and strength abilities.
Seriously girls, be kind to and be patient with yourself. The most important thing in your life shouldn’t be trying to drop some lb’s. It should be taking care of you, so that you can take care of your baby. Find healthy ways to be active, and let your body learn how to move again. Allow your hormones the time to balance out naturally. Enjoy the process and have fun building strength from a fresh starting point. What advice would you give your awkward teenaged-self experiencing puberty? What tips would you give on how to handle it all? Tell that doe-eyed Bambi it is okay to patiently and gracefully evolve (again). Discover just how beautiful your “new” body really is. Whatever your goal may be, put realistic expectations on yourself. Embrace the fact that your body is different from now on. You may get into great shape again or possibly for the first time in your life, or you might let yourself take on a new form! No matter what, just be smart about it. Change is good girl.
Sincerely, your chiropractor with a heart
- Dr. Chelsey