Bounce Back After Baby

Updated: May 17, 2021

You just had a baby. Today you went to your 6-8 week postpartum checkup and have been given permission to resume all activity! You are ready to "bounce back" and lose that baby weight!

 

Let me be clear, I loathe the phrase "Bounce Back After Baby", but unfortunately this is catchy for us desperate new moms. We so badly want to return to the women we were before our lives changed drastically. We miss our bodies and tend to compare our current self to our former self. We are in a race to bounce back and erase all proof of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and motherhood.


Your body has done something miraculous. You grew a human from tiny little cells. Your body knew how to make perfect fingers and toes and hair and eyes and knees and ears. Your body nurtured and held a new life until it was healthy enough to survive this world. Your body knew when to deliver this baby and was able to do so by adjusting and changing that environment for the debut. Without getting into too much detail since most of us have very different experiences, we are amazing. We did that. Own it and praise yourself for it! Don't try to erase it or forget about it.


In our society, or at least the society I live in, it is more than acceptable to comment on how a soon to be or new mother looks. "You look so great!" "I can't believe you just had a baby!" "You don't even look pregnant!" "Are you sure there is just 1 in there?" "You look like you are ready to pop!" "Wow! You really bounced back fast!" "What are you going to do to lose all of the baby weight?" (Hint: mothers do not like to hear any of these comments so please don't say them)


Our society places the appearance of what a soon to be mom or new mom looks like over all other things. We tend to rank mothers who "look" like they have it together higher than mothers who don't look like their pre-baby self or better. We hear things like "wow, you are handling motherhood so well!" As a result, we strive to achieve that ranking and do whatever we can to get there. How do you know we are handling motherhood well? I could be crying all day every day, but smiling during that brief interaction we had. I could be struggling to have sex with my husband because it is so painful. I could be suffering from postpartum depression. No one knows based on appearance how well you are handling motherhood.



As if I need to justify this any more:

When you are pregnant, your body rearranges. Your organs are it different places and are different sizes than they were before you were pregnant. Immediately, your oxygen and blood systems change. Hormones promote weight gain because they are trying to create a healthy environment for your growing baby. Hormones change the color of our skin, the size of our breasts, the way our joints feel, the way our digestive system functions. Your growing stomach changes your bone structure, spine, pelvic floor strength, and muscle lengths. It takes a slow and gradual 10 months for your body to make all of these changes to get to where you are during labor and delivery.


During labor and delivery, your body further goes through changes. Some of these changes can be very traumatic. Hormones further loosen your ligaments, help produce milk, and so much more. You pelvic floor muscles go through a significant amount of trauma, sometimes tearing. Your lumbar and sacral vertebrae can be injured. If you have received an epidural, there are side effects that could take some time to be rid of. Most importantly, if you had a cesarean, you had a major abdominal surgery.


Last year, my husband had to have his appendix removed suddenly. He was in a significant amount of pain. He was given heavy pain medication, stayed in the hospital for 3 days (until he was able to pass a bowel movement), and was ordered not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk (8 lbs). He had 3 small incisions in his abdomen. When men have a vasectomy, they are advised to rest for a 2-4 days after the procedure and it could take them up to 2 weeks to resume normal daily activities. I am not downgrading either procedure by telling these stories.


But...... Women who have a c-section literally have their abdomen cut open as long as a major organ. Their abdominal muscles are severed. These women endured consistent pelvic floor trauma for 9-10 months prior to this. Most women are unable to take heavy pain medication if they choose to breastfeed (additional body trauma). Furthermore, women who delivered vaginally could have had massive tearing or an episiotomy which could cause permanent nerve damage or severely delay recovery.


Now, let's add in the baby. What is light duty? Moms are bending over to pick up the baby, walking around with the baby, carrying the massive carseat around, standing and sitting while holding the baby, leaning forward to place the baby in the crib, placing the baby on the ground, using a baby carrier to walk with the baby, feeding the baby, feeding yourself, taking care of your need, tending to the house. Sleep is lacking. Self care and the mother's needs are lacking. Stress is higher than usual. Pain and discomfort can be a very normal part of life at this time. There is no light duty for women after they have a baby for everyone. Some women do not receive help. Some women are doing this on their own. Some women have older children.


I can't help but compare my delivery and recovery of childbirth to my husband's appendectomy. He was unable to lift heavier than a gallon of milk (8 lbs) for 4-6 weeks after his procedure. I was expected to go to the pediatrician, the OB, picking up my older toddler, and carry a carseat with child included and diaper bag by myself IMMEDIATLY. The carseat alone weighs anywhere from 10-15 lbs. Add an infant weighing 7-8 lbs while carrying to the side of my body in an impossibly painful way! Goodness. The expectations of a new mother is the definition of insanity. No wonder it took me so long to recover AND I AM A PERSONAL TRAINER!


Lose the weight.

Be a good mom.

Don't complain.

Breastfeed your infant.

Take care of yourself.

Go for walks.

Nap when they nap.

Bounce back as quickly as possible.


I could go on. My experience was totally different from so many mothers, but I had less than ideal circumstances as a new mother. I only know what I experienced and what other mothers have shared with me. I try not to share my "horror stories" with other parents too much, but I am very clear with all of my new moms that weight loss will only happen if you take care of your needs. That includes sleep, nutrition, mental health, and healing. These things are very challenging to achieve with an unpredictable infant.


So, knowing all of this, why on earth do we place the appearance of what a soon to be mom or new mom looks like over all other things? Why do we go along with this? Why do we continue to strive for aesthetics when we are stressed, sleep deprived, or in pain? Why do we focus so much on what we look like? Why are we so attracted with catchy articles and fitness programs targeting moms who want to lose the baby weight. Looking perfect should not be our ideal standard and I firmly believe this. My mantra is Love Yourself. Love yourself through the whole journey. Treat yourself like the queen you are. Your body has done some amazing things and you should be proud of that.


There is no Bouncing Back After Baby. Your body will