Week 39 of my pregnancy compared to Week 1 of Henry’s life:
I really cannot fathom that a little person came out of my pregnant belly. So strange! Also, it’s really hard for me to grasp that it’s been a week since I went into labor and delivered Henry. Where did the time go? He looks so different to me already.
Consider my mind blown.
I really, really hate the media’s insane focus on celebrity moms ‘getting their body back’ and slimming down to their pre-pregnancy size in a week. It creates a ton of pressure for the rest of us. And very often, the methods they must use are unrealistic (hey, where’s my personal trainer, nanny, and chef?!) and unhealthy. The other problem I have with the media’s focus on post-pregnancy bodies is that they only talk about the physical aspects – weight gain and loss, muscle tone, flat tummies, whatever.
I’ve given a lot of thought to how I want to handle ‘post-baby body’ posts. I want to blog about my new normal for two reasons: 1) this is a healthy living blog, and fitness has been a huge part of my life and will continue to be; and 2) I wanted to document a real person’s post-baby journey. And a real person’s journey is as much mental as it is physical. So I’ll be blogging about both aspects (I imagine this series will be a once-every-few-weeks thing).
Look, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to drop this extra pregnancy weight. Of course I want to! I have a closet full of nice clothes that I can’t wear. But to me, it’s really not all about the number on the scale – it’s about how strong I feel and how happy I am.
That being said… here we go!
Mind After Baby – Week 1
The baby blues are caused by the intense hormonal shift that you body goes through after delivery, and let me tell you – it’s real. I wrote a bit about feeling like an inadequate momma in this post (and the comments back were SO helpful, thank you!). For a few days after delivery, I found myself bawling at the drop of the hat. I was easily overwhelmed and frustrated. I completely lost my appetite. I had intense nightmares about accidentally killing Henry with my clumsiness.
But nothing compared to how I felt the first day we came home. I was having crazy thoughts. CRAZY. Selfish and mean thoughts about everyone, including the Husband and Henry. I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and sleep for 36 hours; interacting with others felt like a huge burden. However, I really started to turn around emotionally two days ago. And I really think it’s because of my placenta pills, which I began taking four days ago.
Lots of people have asked me to follow up on my choice to encapsulate my placenta. Obviously, I have nothing to compare my experience to because Henry is my first child, but I really do think the pills have made a major difference in my mood. I’m running on 4 or 5 hours of extremely broken sleep a night and feel tired but stable. I’ll never know if I would’ve bounced back naturally or slipped deeper into despair without the pills, but – like I said before – who cares? All that matters is I feel better!
Even though I had a touch of the baby blues, I must say that I have overwhelmingly felt awesome. I am just so happy that Henry is healthy. He is a really good baby so far, too, sleeping well (when he’s not up and eating!) and becoming more and more alert every day. Even though parenting is challenging, I feel incredibly blessed. When the Husband, my mom, or my dad takes Henry and tells me to go sleep for a few hours, I kind of don’t want to nap because it’s time away from my baby.
Body After Baby – Week 1
Before and After:
Overall, I gained exactly 35 pounds during pregnancy. As of one week post-baby, I’ve lost 18 of those pounds (in the form of extra fluids, extra blood volume, placenta, and – of course – Henry himself). That means that I’m 17 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m sure some of that is milk, as well as pregnancy-related extras that will naturally come off in the next few weeks, but some of it is body fat, too (as it should be).
The only clothes that fit me are my maternity clothes or nursing clothes. I look at my closet of pretty things and am so sad that nothing fits! I try on my old clothes every now and then hoping that something will fit but, generally speaking, nothing does. I also tried on my wedding rings two days ago, and my fingers are still too swollen to wear them comfortably. It’s important not to actively try to lose weight too quickly because it can delay recovery and interfere with breastfeeding (they say breastfeeding requires an extra 500 calories a day!). Losing weight isn’t a priority for me right now, anyway. After all, it’s only a week out – I have much more important things to do!
All my friends warned me that I’d still look a few months pregnant after delivery. Very slowly, the faux bump is going down. My stomach is pretty squishy, which is completely normal because my abdominal wall had to separate and spread during pregnancy.
Three days v. one week post delivery – much less swelling.
I have to wait until my 4 – 6 week check-up to get the ‘official’ okay to exercise, but I was also told it’s fine to listen to my body and go from there. So Henry and I went on our first walk yesterday. It was only 10 minutes, I walked really slowly, and I was pooped by the end, but the activity didn’t aggravate my bleeding and generally felt great. I’m VERY glad that I stayed so active throughout pregnancy; it’s definitely accelerated my healing time. All things considering, I think I will be able to do those late September/early October sprint triathlons that I was dreaming about. But training will not start for many, many weeks!
In terms of soreness from delivery, I have to say that if it wasn’t from the episiotomy, I would feel totally normal now. I feel some tightness at the episiotomy site, but it’s really not too bad (I think my third degree tear is a very mild third degree tear). My friend told me the key to a fast episiotomy recovery was really relaxing for the first week, which is pretty much what I did – the couch and I are now best friends! – so I think that has a lot to do with it.
The only other post-delivery symptoms that I experienced are very low blood pressure and anemia, most likely due to blood loss. I fainted twice in the hospital and had to be roused with smelling salts. I didn’t feel or look normal (I had a pale gray/green hue for days) until about two days ago, when my mood also turned around. I credit getting loads of rest, as well as the placenta pills, an iron supplement, and B Vitamin supplement. And time – sometimes your body just needs time!
So – the last area of post-baby body to discuss is the nursing situation. All in all, I think breastfeeding is going really well. My milk came in five days ago, and the 24 hours of engorgement was terrible, but my body is slowly figuring out what to do with all this milk. Nursing is a lot more challenging than I anticipated, but seeing a lactation consultant in the hospital and in private, as well as reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, really helped things along. Henry and I are following a pretty rigorous ‘schedule’ (I use that term loosely) recommended by my consultant because his feedings are so short; hopefully, we will be able to naturally back off it in a few days and space out the feedings. The most important thing is that he’s gaining weight – and he is – so I feel like the 14 or 15 feedings every day is well worth it.
Fun fact: Thanks to a breastfeeding app, I know that I spend THREE HOURS a day nursing Henry. It’s a part-time job!
So – that’s my real post-baby body. Mentally and physically, so much has changed, but I don’t mind a single worry, tear, pound, or stretchmark. It’s all part of the process, and it’s all part of the beginning of the new me. My body and mind will never be like before, but I didn’t expect to be the same person now that Henry is in the world. Wherever I end up post-baby, I’m excited to get there.
If you’re a momma, what was your pregnancy recovery like?