This may be a bit late coming considering that Finley is now over 18 months, but let’s talk pre-pregnancy bodies, or rather, why I believe ‘getting back to your pre-pregnancy body’ is total BS.
Almost from the moment you give birth, there’s a certain pressure to get back to how you were before you were pregnant. It’s not helped by images of celebrities looking incredible without a stretch mark in sight just a few weeks after they’ve given birth. At a time when you really don’t need to feel any more rubbish, that comparison and pressure to bounce back can be really hard. Of course there are some lucky women who, down to genetics, do bounce back without the need for a personal trainer, personal chef and nanny.
I certainly envisioned that I would have Finley, breastfeed him and watch the weight just fall off while I sat in front of Netflix with him clamped onto my boob. After 6 weeks, I’d be back at the gym and within 3 months I’d have lost a stone and a half and feel like a gorgeous glowing goddess mama. Obviously.
Well that sure as shit was not how it went, and in reality I don’t think that happens for very many new mothers out there either. In my case there was the premature birth, heart defect and associated hospital trips, stress and having to tube feed, nurse and then pump every 3 hours for over 2 weeks before his op to deal with too. Breastfeeding and sleep deprivation only gave me a bigger appetite!
So clearly I feel that this bouncing back to our pre-pregnancy bodies within a couple of months is just not realistic. However, I sit here with an 18 month old and I still don’t have or want my pre-pregnancy body back and this is why: it doesn’t freaking exist! Being pregnant, growing and giving life to a whole new person, giving birth and then the nurturing that comes afterwards changes our bodies so completely. The body we had before we became pregnant is gone and is replaced with something new, and in my opinion, something even more amazing.
My boobs aren’t going to lift themselves back up to where they were before I became pregnant. My stretch marks aren’t going to suddenly disappear. My rounder tummy, in all likelihood, is not going to be replaced by six pack abs no matter how hard I train in the gym.
I will never get back to how I looked pre-pregnancy, but I feel that accepting that and letting it go as an ideal is so freeing, there’s so much I can still do with the mama body I have now. Finally, after 18 months I actually feel like this is the first time since having Finley that I can start to focus on me and work on being the very best version of me physically.
Now that we’ve moved and settled (yey!) I’m finally ready to start focusing on me and my health and wellbeing as the priority it should be. I’m not hating on the body I have now, rather I know that the way I’ve been eating and the total lack of exercise is impacting it, and once I get those things in order I should see some changes in my body. I’m not going to weigh myself, but I’m going to take measurements and I have a pair of fabulous jeans that I’d like to fit into as my goal.
Getting my pre-pregnancy body back ain’t going to happen because it doesn’t exist, but I can still work on becoming my best self with the body I have now.
If you’re a mama, did you feel any pressure to bounce back to your pre-pregnancy body? How long after birth did it take you to feel comfortable in your body?
Totally relate to your article. My son is 16 months, I did lose a lot of weight a year ago doing lots of exercie but have been putting it back on lately. As you say i won’t weight myself but will measure progress with clothes….and stop feeling guilty about not eating properly, having some sugar craving and not being as regular at the gym as i use to be. thanks for motivating me. Love the new house ;-)
Thanks Pauline! Glad you like the new house :-) Glad that you’re going to stop feeling guilty, I think it’s just about doing your best!
I wholly agree with this. I genuinely find it quite worrying and odd if a woman just bounces back straight away to what she looked like before. Fair enough genes does play a role and for some women it does just happen, but for the majority of celebrities out there this is so not the case. It makes me wonder what’s really important to them: their baby or their body? Clearly a lot of them work ridiculously hard to look as good again and it’s like “woah, you just had a baby! Shouldn’t your attention be on the BABY?”. It just adds pressure to normal women who don’t have nannies, nutritionists, personal trainers, chefs, etc. etc. I think you’re fabulous and should be bloody proud of yourself – not just with how you look but with your amazing son and family.
Aww thanks Anna that’s so lovely of you to say! And yes I agree, in some ways it must be very hard to be in the public eye and have even more pressure on them, but yeah, you wonder how much time they’re spending with baby if their working out so much!
My daughter is 14 months old. I was less worried about losing weight than I was about regaining my fitness and general health but I did subconsciously find myself worrying about being judged on my physical appearance when I started to return to ‘normal’ life such as work. It’s hard not be influenced by what you see in the media when your self-confidence has also taken a hit.
The bizarre reality check for me though was when doing core stability exercises. I vowed post birth I’d get my core strength back to support my back and keep good posture. I’ve done core exercises for about 10-15 mins, 5-7 times a week for a year and my abdominal muscles are as strong as ever. But looking at my stomach you wouldn’t know because the elasticity in my skin has been permanently changed by pregnancy. I never wanted a visible six-pack and I’m obviously not going to have one. But it also made me realise that I whatever I do has to be for me and for good on the inside!
That’s a really key point in all of this, I think that birth and the days after really can knock your confidence anyway and I know for me I had a lot of anxiety too, not helped by the body consciousness! Great to hear that your core strength is so awesome (and a reminder for me not to neglect mine!) and yep, good on the inside is where it’s at!
I think it is scary the pressure that women are under. Also, you are never going to be pre-pregnancy again because you have been through that now, and surely your body changing is a sort of badge of honour- it should be- like you say growing a new human being is amazing and you need to be looking after yourself, not beating yourself up for not fitting in skinny jeans the week after giving birth.
Absolutely, I think society used to see it as a badge of honour and respect that process but since women’s bodies have become so ‘discussed’ in media it’s flipped it all the wrong way :-(
I love this! To be honest, since having my little boy I’ve felt like I’ve become detached from how my body looks, and instead focused on how it felt (because, quite frankly, an energised mama is more useful to my son right now than a mama obsessed with being smaller). I think that’s changing a little (a recent shopping trip for an evening dress gave me a nudge towards wanting to lose a bit of my tummy), but being back to my pre-baby body really isn’t a priority. Being healthy is.
Thank you for this. I never expected to magically ‘bounce back’ after having my baby boy 3.5 months ago, but I didn’t expect to be as disheartened about my physical self as I am. I’m surprised by how much I’m allowing it to bother me. I think it’s probably exacerbated by how not to plan birth and early motherhood went, but then again that’s parenting in a nutshell isn’t it? Never what you expected!