Thoughts on Postpartum Weight and Recovery

9.03.2015


This past Monday, I was 3 weeks postpartum.

I debated about writing a post about postpartum weight and showing pictures of my stomach on here because, well because it's kind of personal and my dad reads this blog (hi, Dad!).

But if there's one kind of pregnancy-related post I personally always enjoy reading about, it's when bloggers share about their postpartum recovery. It's fascinating how different people carry babies and recover after having a baby, and I was interested (and, let's be honest, nervous) to see how my body would react.

I'll start out by saying that this experience is obviously personal to me and is not a reflection on anyone else's pp journey. I knew this before, but over the past three weeks I've realized it really is ridiculous to compare your recovery period and post-baby body to anyone else. There is no "should" here. Saying you "should" be back to a certain weight or "should" be able to fit into your pants by a certain time or "should" be exercising is putting ridiculous expectations on yourself that no one else is putting on you! I'm talking to myself as much as anyone else.

Pregnancy and labor are different for everyone, and if you have an "easier" experience (easier, of course, being relative), you will probably have an easier recovery.

I carried R for 38 weeks, 4 days, and gained 30 pounds when all was said and done. I don't own a scale, so the only numbers I have are when I go to the doctor's office.

Starting weight: 135 
Ending weight: 165
At two weeks pp, I went in for a checkup and weighed 143.

Over the past three weeks, I have not done anything to assist in weight loss or stomach shrinkage. I'm breastfeeding, so cutting calories is definitely not an option at this point. I need to keep up my food intake for little R! 

Labor really drained me, and for the first week I needed help with remedial tasks such as sitting up. Taking a shower left me with shaky legs, and my tailbone was insanely sore for a while (actually it's still sore, but who's asking?). Basically for the last three weeks I've been sitting on the coach, so I am very thankful my body has been doing pretty well on its own. I would think part of that is because I was in good shape when I got pregnant. Part of that is probably genetics, which is why it's silly to compare yourself to others. We're all different!

All that to say, I wore Jordan's gym shorts and my dad's XL t-shirts for basically the first two weeks pp, so it wasn't until recently that I've been trying on my own clothes, and let me tell you: I see now why people talk about standing in the closet crying because none of your clothes fit.

And I know, I just had a baby three weeks ago! I'm not saying I expect my clothes to fit perfectly, and I promise you that I am not fishing for compliments. But it's one thing to know in your head that you just had a baby and another to put on your own t-shirts and still look like you're four months pregnant.

It's not so much the number on the scale or the fact that I may or may not be able to button my pants. It's about the flabbiness that is my stomach and my legs and my butt and my arms. It's about the fact that I put on clothes I've worn forever and they fit differently and it's weird and sad. I'm just being honest. I have a small number of shirts I feel comfortable wearing; the rest are still being shunned in their drawer.

I don't plan on trying to run until I'm cleared by my doctor, but I won't lie and say I'm not itching to get out there. It's going to be terrible, and I probably won't make it to the end of the block, but I don't even care. Registration for the 2016 Oklahoma City half marathon opens in four days, not that I'm counting or anything. I also plan on starting over with my pull-up exercises, and I have some Jillian Michaels DVDs to try out as well. So we'll see what happens. I won't be blogging weekly updates or anything, but I might post progress updates once in a while if any of you find it remotely interesting.

It's nice to finally start feeling more like myself, even if I look in the mirror and don't necessarily think I look like myself. It took nine months to stretch myself out, so I guess I can at least give it nine months to do the opposite.
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p.s. On Monday I'll be taking a break from baby stuff and sharing a house tour, so be sure and come back!

25 comments:

  1. it's true that everyone heals differently, every body is different, yet we all try and compare our bodies to someone else's. It takes time, it's not a race. I haven't had a baby yet, but my sister just did. Her body is changed. Even though she lost all her pregnancy weight, her body fits her clothes differently. It's a learning process. But she looks to her daughter and feels proud of herself. And I hope I can do the same. focus on the beautiful life I will have brought into this world instead of how I still won't fit in some of my clothes..

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  2. I like that you prefaced this by saying how individual it all is. I had a frustrating conversation with someone yesterday who said our bodies go back to normal after 6 weeks pp, and I nearly lost my crap. It's been 5 months and I'm still not there, but I think breastfeeding is a lot of why I can't get these last 15 lbs to budge. The standing in your closet and not fitting into your clothes is the hardest part for me. I fit into much more now, but I had to buy new jeans and a few looser shirts to get me through this weird transition phase. I can tell my body probably won't ever be the way it used to, and some days I handle that really well and some days I don't. Just one more sacrifice we make for our kids ;)

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  3. You hit the nail on the head - everyone is different and there is no 'should' when it comes to post partum recovery. our bodies are forever changed - as it should be...we carried a tiny human for 9 long months!!! I'm almost 10 months PP and still hanging onto those last 5lbs (still breast feeding so I think that's why!) I know eventually I'll lose these last few pounds but even when I do my body won't look the same - and that's OK. I, too, have good days and bad days when it comes to my PP body - I think that's normal. You've got the right attitude though and you're doing a great job!!

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  4. I had a terrible stretch where my maternity clothes were too big and my regular clothes were too small. It is super frustrating, and after that experience, you do just want to feel like yourself again and clothes seem to be the easiest factor to start with because you can't do anything about where your hips are now situated (wider than they started, never to return to their original position) or how much your feet have grown (to return to their normal size but then get larger 6 years later. ???) You will get back to feeling like yourself soon.

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  5. I am so happy you shared this. Keep them coming! "It took nine months to stretch myself out, so I guess I can at least give it nine months to do the opposite." <--I love that. So good.

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  6. You look fabulous. Seriously, it's only been a few weeks! It does take time, and yes, sometimes things just don't go back to the way they were before. Nursing helps, and I am not ready to wean...because I won't be burning all those extra calories (and hence can't justify eating a bit more)...and usually, when I wean it's like my boobs just deflate...and the extra just goes on down to my stomach. As if things weren't already bad enough there! Of course it is all worth it, but it is still part of the struggle of motherhood. I have no doubt you'll be back to yourself--or your new sense of self--in no time.

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  7. I know you said you weren't fishing for compliments, but I think you look fantastic for 3 weeks post! With even more time, I'm sure everything will continue to move in a positive direction for you! Getting back into running and exercise is bound to assist with some of the things you mentioned! :)

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  8. Postpartum body changes are some of the hardest things to deal with after having the baby - especially since you are getting very little sleep so have very little emotional reserves to draw from. I gained 29 lbs with baby #2 and was 3lbs under my starting weight by my 6 wk appt and my clothes STILL didn't fit - because your body shape is just different than it was before - and it may go back... and it may not. You may always have a slightly poochier belly or wider hips or fuller arms and its OK. With this baby (my 10 1/2 lb whopper) I got stretch marks on my belly - they are somewhat faded now, 4 months out, but when I first saw them I thought "This is a surprise, but also pretty cool - I will forever wear the marks of carrying WW on my belly!" I think we have to think of the body changes as our badge of honor. I'm not saying don't get back in shape - being healthy for our kids is important (though just be careful as resumption of exercise is related to decrease in milk supply for many, so start slowly, eat enough calories and drink enough water, and make sure R is getting well-fed) - but definitely having grace for yourself and learning to love the new shape is important!

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  9. You look great, Amanda! I hope I look that awesome after labor! I'm glad you're feeling more like yourself, and I'm sure you'll increasingly feel that way, especially once you can satiate your running itch. You're so right that everyone's pregnancy and labor experience is different. We're a little concerned, quite frankly, about where the numbers are landing for me. I've only gained 14-16 pounds at 36.5 weeks, nowhere close to reaching the 25-35 typical gain by the end (I'm maybe somewhere around the 8th percentile for maternal weight gain by 36 wks). and yet we were just told our baby looks like she's in the 90th percentile! Possibly 7.5 pounds already! How is that even possible? The numbers just don't add up. Hopefully we'll get some answers soon and that everything's all right, but in the meantime I'm both bracing myself for a difficult labor and trying to remind myself that there is no "normal" and that numbers aren't gods.

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  10. Ok, major props to you for taking these post-partum photos. I could barely stand the site of myself in the mirror for those first few weeks. A lot of my body changed after giving birth, compared to my pre-baby body (like hello smaller boobs, what the heck?), but it is what it is!

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  11. Hang in there! Those first few weeks are so hard on the ol bod. But once you're cleared and back to running I know you'll feel like yourself again soon!

    I bruised my tailbone so bad with Abigail's delivery. I couldn't do Pilates for months. Luckily that didn't happen with Mabel- once again, each situation is totally unique and different!

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  12. I'm sure new moms appreciate you talking about this... so many things that are just left 'unspoken' for some weird reason. Its all natural.

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  13. Our bodies are so fascinating! I'm glad you did this post. And you are so right to emphasis that there isn't a "should" - we're all different and we all do the best we can. I hope women continue to get better about just supporting and listening to each other and not comparing and contrasting.

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  14. Such an interesting post Amanda! Thanks for sharing and being so honest. I think you look incredible, and I KNOW you will find your way back to a body you love and feel at home in.

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  15. I know my friends struggled with these feelings too. It is hard to be kind to yourself and know that you are recovering when you just want to wear your comfy things again. I am glad you are waiting till you are cleared and I am sure you will feel like yourself again soon enough.

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  16. I love your honesty girl. You do look amazing though. I can imagine it's hard though to know your body and then all of a sudden you can't fit into your usual clothes! It's gotta be a strange feeling. Maybe in a few more weeks things will be feeling more "normal" to you!! You're so right though that no two people have the exact same recovery story! I think that's part of what makes us all so unique!

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  17. Thank you for sharing! Your honesty through all of this is really refreshing and reassuring for me!

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  18. I like posts like these. Honest and refreshing, really!

    I agree that it is all individual... Even on a per pregnancy basis! I ended up at the same weight at the end of both my pregnancies, and the amount of time it took to bounce back was different!

    And yeah... I feel like nursing also made it so none of my shirts fit quite right up top. Eventually the milk production evens out and you can finally wear some old things without them being too tight.

    Anyway... You look amazing and in a few months we'll see you crossing that half marathon finish line :)

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  19. I didn't remotely start to feel like my old self again until at least 3-4 months postpartum, and I'm only now (at almost 5 months pp) starting to come to grips with the fact that my body might never look the same again, despite my best efforts. I guess we'll have to see (since I haven't been cleared to start really running because of other health problems I'm experiencing).

    I still wanna cry every time I stand in front of the closet though out of sheer frustration---it's such a silly thing, but it's so obnoxious that not everything fits anymore! It used to be that I could just wear whatever I felt like wearing that day, but now I have to think about what actually fits, what's appropriate for work, and what covers the rash on my arms courteous of the lovely AI disease I developed during pregnancy.

    Basically I wish I could get away with wearing scrubs to my teaching job :)

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  20. I absolutely do not get those ladies who are in bikini's a month later. Not at all. You were in shape to begin with and you will get back there. I think it's great that you won't rush it and okay to be a little sad about the whole process.

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  21. It's always interesting to read about this because not a lot of people actually talk about it (at least in my neck of the woods). Like you said, I think being in shape before having a baby surely helps the post-partum recovery (I've seen this with friends, particularly one of them who, two weeks after giving birth, looked as if no pregnancy had happened!).

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  22. love your honesty... i'm not glad you're going through this of course, but i'm glad you're sharing it because i think sometimes people are like hunky dory and i'm like yes but really, tell me the truth? i had no idea labour could drain you that much.. honestly, no idea. I hope you start to feel comfortable and are able to run soon!

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  23. I find posts like this so interesting so I'm glad you're sharing! I think you are spot on about genetics playing such a huge role in this. I have a small handful of friends who looked the same a month postpartum that they did before they were pregnant (at least with clothes on - this is not counting stretch marks). It's unreal. Like seriously unreal. I like what you had to say about it taking 9 months for your body to change like this, so maybe 9 months from birth would be a better judge of how you're doing. I look forward to hearing more!

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  24. This is really interesting; I haven't read much on pp weight loss but I can only imagine how difficult it must be. Thanks for sharing your journey, I look forward to following along and seeing how it all goes as you get back to your marathoning self :)

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  25. first of all, you are beautiful.
    secondly, i love that you are so honest and raw and that you are sharing this journey with us. you are being realistic and showing the truth (because let's be honest, a lot of us are like "wait, what the heck happens?!" hahaha)
    i'm so proud of you!

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