Sahara is officially 16 weeks tomorrow, which means it’s also 16 weeks since I said goodbye to my baby bump and hello to my postpartum body.
Despite gaining roughly 20kgs during my pregnancy, I got a lot of comments on the fact that it didn’t look like I’d gained any weight aside from my bump. I think I got to 37 weeks without a single stretch mark, and then boom they just all appeared overnight! When they first appeared it definitely got to me mentally and I was pretty upset; I’d done all the things to avoid stretch marks, applying pregnancy creams morning and evening. They were so noticeable! I’m not talking about faint marks, they were so prominent that I thought even after having the baby they would be that visible. Well as I said, Sahara’s nearing the 16 week mark since being born and my stretch marks are no where near what they used to be. Don’t get me wrong they are definitely still visible but instead of being that red-purple colour, they look like funny tan lines, and instead of being sad about them I now see them as a gentle reminder of what my body went through for 9 months.
While I’ve come to accept my stretch marks that’s only a portion of things that I’ve had to come to terms with having a postpartum body.
Unfortunately I didn’t workout much during my pregnancy, I’d hurt my back quite badly during the first month and not exercising regularly snowballed from there. I did the occasional pregnancy pilates workout from home, and tried to swim a few times a week as well as walking the dog as regularly as my body could handle but ultimately, looking back on in, I wasn’t as active as I wish I had of been. It’s definitely one thing I’m going to learn from for my future pregnancies – you don’t necessarily have to do any hard core training but I think it’s incredibly important to regularly move your body not only for the physical benefits but also the mental.
As a result I wanted to get back into the gym as soon as was safely possible post baby, so as soon as the 6 week mark came around (which is when they tend to say is safe to return to exercise if you had a natural, complication free birth) I got my doctor’s clearance and signed up to the gym.
I’ve now been back at the gym for roughly 10 weeks (although I’ve had to take this week off due to a pinched nerve which is incredibly annoying as I was really starting to get back into the routine of working out again) and it feels great to move my body again, but that also comes with its challenges. Even though Sahara was born nearly 4 months ago I’m still 7-8kgs over what I was before having her so simple movements such as bodyweight squats feel as though I’m doing squats with a weight vest on!
Not only is it physically different, it’s a mental challenge too. As someone who comes from a fitness background not being able to do the same things that I could a year or so ago was really disheartening when I first got back into exercising, and if I’m being honest it still is occasionally. If you’re feeling in a similar position, whether you’re getting into exercise for the first time ever or coming back postnatally, my biggest piece of advice that I’ve had to tell myself over and over again is that you have to start some where. I’m currently training at Body Fit, so a group environment which means the competitive side of me comes out when I’m training with someone else and they’re lifting a heavier weight or moving faster than me, and I have to shut it down straight away otherwise I fall into a black hole of not feeling good enough in my current skin.
How quickly my body moves in the gym isn’t the only factor that’s involved when it comes to feeling comfortable in your skin postnatally. One thing I’ve struggled with more than anything is clothing! During my pregnancy I was lucky enough to not have to go out of my way to buy maternity clothes, partly because I could get away with a lot of stretchy items I already had in my wardrobe and partly because for some reason (despite being in the 21st century?) there’s very limited nice maternity clothes out there.
Even though my body doesn’t look as big as it did when I was pregnant (obviously!) majority of my wardrobe still doesn’t quite fit me. Some days I go through 4 or 5 changes before I find an outfit that not only fits me but I also feel comfortable in. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve sat in my bra and undies on my bed crying because I’ve tried item after item on only for it not to fit. It’s one of those situations though where I don’t want to spend a heap of money buying new clothes that (hopefully) won’t fit me in a few months time.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself I’ve set some rules into motion. Firstly, that losing my pregnancy weight isn’t going to happen overnight. Rather than expecting this to happen after a few gym sessions I’ve set myself the goal of wanting to be pre-baby weight by Sahara’s first birthday. This way I’m not being overly strict with myself – getting frustrated when I miss a gym session or I have that piece of cake – and not enjoying life and it’s losing the weight in a healthy, reasonable timeframe.
Secondly, my wardrobe got a big old cull! You may have heard the saying “if it’s not in the house then I won’t eat it”, well I essentially applied this to my wardrobe. Waking up each day and seeing all these clothes that I don’t currently fit into was getting me down, so I’ve taken all the items that I don’t currently fit but I hope to again one day and put them into storage for the time being. If when October rolls around and they still don’t fit, well then it’ll be time to say goodbye (and hello shopping trip)!
Learning to love your body after 9 months of growing a human isn’t the easiest journey for some, myself included. But looking at this little munchkin’s smile definitely makes the journey brighter and more worthwhile.