the postpartum body
Alternate title: I think I ate too much cake whilst pregnant.
I haven’t really spoken about body changes and weight fluctuations in this space before. But now seems as good a time as any to delve into the mystifying subject of the postpartum body.
In each of my pregnancies I have gained about 20kg. Judging by the general consensus of mums I know and going by the numbers printed on pregnancy websites, I’d say this is just a tad above average. While my weight gaining experience has been much the same each time (although I do tend to carry heavier when pregnant with a boy) I have noticed that my postpartum body is very different with each pregnancy. Granted my memory of that first year with baby is always hazy but I am certain that third time around, my body is most definitely not returning to its pre-baby self any time soon.
I have little to no regard for the size of my body in the first few weeks after birth. I’m positive this has everything to do with those lovely, powerful hormones that keep every single thought focussed on baby. But at around the four month mark when the hormones bid farewell, the newborn bubble bursts, my hair starts to fall out and my nails chip…that’s when I start to notice the changes. As one of my beautiful friends said to me recently: “I was sitting on the couch the other day when I noticed I’ve got three rolls on my belly. That didn’t happen with the first two pregnancies!” Yes, that.
I know that it takes a good year for the body to get back to some semblance of its former self – I know from experience and I’ve shared this knowledge with hundreds of my yoga students. But when I’m in the midst of that first year with baby, when the newborn metabolism has slowed and my clothes don’t fit, well, it can be a little disheartening.
And while I know in my heart that my body is wonderful for growing, birthing and feeding my babies, I don’t think there’s any harm in admitting that I struggle with the postpartum body and that I long to feel like “me” again.
Generally the weight doesn’t start shifting until the 8-month mark and for many women, the body holds onto weight until baby is weaned. In this stage with three children I have very little time to dwell on it but I am aware of looking after my body; increasing my fitness (I have puffed up many hills of late) and becoming more aware of my core strength and posture. For me that means a little less cake (but breastfeeding does require some cake), more water, gentle yoga (even if I do collapse on the mat) and long walks (good for my head, too). I’m not aiming for amazing tone and significant weight loss…I’d just like to fit into a few of my favourite skirts come summer.
I’m a little tired of the media’s banter regarding real bodies. But since you have a body and you may have had a baby, I’d love to hear about your experience postpartum. Is it anything like mine?