Getting your (pre-baby) body back
By Erica Jeung, Certified Sports Nutritionist and Principal at BumpVitamins.com
This isn’t my body: The Postpartum Belly
After having a baby there are so many things going through a new mom’s mind that it can be overwhelming. Hormones are raging, things are hurting, there is a lack of sleep, and you are likely feeling a wide range of emotions, which is the cherry on top of all the physical things that are going on with your body, especially your postpartum belly.
New moms are also probably wondering, “When will I lose the “bump”? Is it fat? Is it just inflamed and stretched out from pregnancy or is this permanent? Will I ever look the same again?” I definitely felt this way with both of my children, especially after baby #2. Before kids I was very fit, I worked out 1-3 times a day, not 1-3 times per week, yes, 1-3 times per day! I was in the best shape of my life, and I liked the way I felt and looked, so immediately after having kids, like one day after, I looked in the mirror and all I could think was, “This isn’t my body.”
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon
Unrealistically, I was thinking I would bounce back immediately. I thought that due to my level of fitness before pregnancy and during pregnancy, I shouldn’t have that much fat and I should look like I did before I got pregnant instantly. Dismayed with my results after a few days of postpartum, I did what most people do, I Googled it. I Googled, “postpartum belly” and got a wide variety of results. There were some moms that did in fact bounce right back and looked like their stomach was as flat as a pancake within a few days! Then there were some like me, that after 5 days, 14 days, 30 days, still had quite a bit of “pooch” for lack of a better term.
This all inspired me to enroll in my latest certification class, Pre and Postnatal Fitness. And of course, what I learned right away was, it is a process. Even though Instagram models and celebrities appear to all lose belly fat, stretch marks, and loose skin instantly, it is simply not realistic for most women. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It takes time, healing your body after pregnancy should be taken slowly and with care. It took 9 months to grow your tiny human, so be easy on yourself when getting your pre-baby body back takes just as long, if not longer. For most, it takes around a year to lose their postpartum belly in a safe and healthy manner.
365 days of work
That’s right ladies. 365 days or 8,766 hours is how long it takes to gain your healthy body back in most cases. Of course, you will have your friends, sister, cousin, in-law, or whoever that seems to have just bounced right back to their pre-baby body, but for most new moms, including me, it takes a full year. Even at that, it can take longer depending on your level of contribution. By this I mean, the work you put into it will directly affect what you get out of it. Your body won’t just go back on its own. You have to work at it. Sorry, there is no easy button here. You are looking at 365 days, 8,766 hours of work.
Set a realistic goal for yourself. How much time do you have to work out? What is your diet like? Having a child will change a lot of your old habits. For me, I didn’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to working out as I once had. Instead of counting calories to make sure I was in a caloric deficit, I was focused on eating more calories so I could make enough milk to breastfeed, which requires about 300-500 more calories than your daily recommended intake. Also, I was focused on healing instead of jumping right back into working out. I had C-sections with both pregnancies, which takes a bit longer to heal from, so my plan was to heal, eat, and sleep as much as possible in the first few months.
Once I got past the first three months I was able to define a clear plan and set some smaller goals to help me reach my end goal. I started by walking and ensuring my diet consisted of healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. I continued to take my Bump vitamin packs to ensure all of my nutritional needs were met. Next, I added 50 burpees to my routine to get my heart rate up and regain some strength. The burpees were not my favorite thing to do but with limited time, COVID, and limited resources I turned to what I knew was effective, even if it wasn’t fun. And finally, I started doing full-body workouts including bodyweight suspension workouts, free weights, and rowing. I was able to hit my goal of weighing in at my pre-baby weight by my son’s 1st birthday. And even though I dropped the weight, and even though I eat healthy and workout 5-6 days a week, I still am struggling with fat deposits I didn’t have before, stretch marks, and loose skin.
Learning to Love Yourself Postpartum
I am learning to love my new body. I know that the stretch marks and loose skin and the new fat deposits I didn’t have before, are all part of me and my journey. I have learned to not be too hard on myself when I see friends, family, and Instagram models that have perfect abs even after having children. Everyone is different, heals differently, and has different hormones and metabolism which all impact our health and weight loss journey. Proper nutrition and working out help your body heal and regulate hormones. So eat right, work out, take your Bump vitamins, and love yourself!