Motherhood,  Postpartum

Recovery After Baby

“You look like you’ve already lost all your baby weight!”

This is a comment I received from several people about a month after Lilly was born. Nice, but not true. I had only lost about two-thirds of the baby weight, and during pregnancy I had lost a considerable amount of muscle so I would have still looked flabby even if I had lost all the weight.

Although it looks like some women recover from pregnancy and labor faster than others, postpartum is a tough road to go through for everyone. The weight/outward appearance is really the only thing that other people can make note of in your recovery process, but that is only one of many things to deal with after having a baby. Here are a few aspects of the postpartum period that I believe every woman struggles with:

  1. Your body will never be the same. It doesn’t matter if you return to the same weight you were before you got pregnant, you will have loose skin in places you didn’t before, or you will carry your excess weight in different areas. Even if you somehowlook exactly the same, you will feel different. Which takes us to number 2…
  2. Your body will not be able to do all the things it used to be able to do, at least for a while. Most likely you will be sore, in pain, tired or all of the above for several weeks after giving birth. Then your joints are all out of whack and you have lost muscle mass that makes exercising difficult. I think this is harder to deal with during postpartum than in pregnancy because for some reason we believe we should be able to pop back into shape after popping out a baby.
  3. Not having energy/time to make yourself look presentable. And by presentable, I don’t mean just having a bra on, though that can be an accomplishment in and of itself. What most women consider presentable is actually being well-dressed, put together, and beautiful. So, after a baby, you don’t feel like wearing anything that’s slightly uncomfortable, so that nixes out almost any “fashionable” women’s clothing. You generally don’t have time to put on makeup, or shave your legs, or take a shower, or brush your teeth…you get the idea. Not being able to pretty yourself up, at least from time to time, may make you feel like a slob and unattractive.
  4. Your clothes won’t fit the way they used to. Postpartum really is the 4thtrimester, where none of your maternity clothes really fit you but none of your regular clothes do either. Forget bras and underwear for a while, because they won’t do you any good – for several reasons. Not having anything to wear doesn’t really inspire confidence.

Point is, if you’re a mom going through your postpartum period, don’t think that Suzy Q next door has her life together just because she’s wearing mascara that one time you saw her, or that Jane Doe at church is fully recovered just because she can fit into something she used to wear before she was pregnant. For those of you that haven’t been through postpartum, the best thing to say to a woman going through it is, “You look beautiful!” or “You’re amazing – doing what you’re doing”. Postpartum is hard, just like pregnancy, childbirth, life – and women that go through it deserve to be encouraged, not applauded because they’ve met one of our ignorant standards.

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