Talking The Postpartum Body

There were two things I was anxious about by the end of my pregnancy: What the after care would be like post delivery, and what my body would be like after the baby had joined us in real life. Both of these things I could not control, which is why I was fairly worried about them. Not worried in the “I’ll never be the saaaaaaaame!” way… just in the “oh man, what is this big unknown thing going to be like?!” way. Plus… vanity. I’ve got it. I  was also really over being pregnant and really over maternity clothes and really over feeling blimpy.

I googled post-partum bellies to get a look at my future. Some were totally unrealistically amazing, some were over the top bad… basically it left me with absolutely no idea what I was in for. But I made a deal with Kamel that I was only allowed 1 major body-related meltdown in the first month after baby… because!! I knew that I wouldn’t bounce back like nothing had ever happened in that short amount of time, that I would spend the majority of that time healing, and that I needed to not dwell on the things I couldn’t control. So… I gave myself 1 meltdown.

Here is a photo of me the day before I went into labor:

Over due belly

There is a baby in there!! A real one! Fully cooked! Ahh!

And then this is me the first full day back home (I gave birth on a Friday and this was on Monday):

Postpartum Tummy

I had already deflated quite a bit, but I came home from labor/delivery only losing 10 lbs. I was a little disappointed because I had heard of other people losing 15-20 lbs right off the bat. I mostly just wanted to be impressed by the amount of stuff that came out with baby and say to people, “See? all of that weight?! well ____ amount was ALL BABY, people!” … but that didn’t exactly happen. Still, I was 100% cool with my little postpartum baby bump when I got home. I was pretty distracted and focused on making sure Gabe ate food, didn’t die, and was cuddled excessively.

One week after giving birth I was shocked at how the bump had deflated further:

1 week after birth

And yes, those are my giant postpartum pads on the bathroom floor behind me. Because after baby, a giant period commeth… but guess what? It isn’t so bad either.

And then this weekend Kamel snapped this photo of me scoping out my tummy while getting dressed:

Postpartum tummy

I wrestled with whether or not to show this photos because… underpants. But ultimately I think I’ve shown more on instagram in my bathing suit. That is my tummy and my hips. My boobs are the size of … I’m not sure what… definitely bigger than a softball, smaller than a bowling ball… and they ache like a motherfucker. But a post on my experiences (and all of the LIES) breastfeeding will come at a later time.

For now, I have this: The body is magical. MAGICAL! I did not have a C-Section and I did not have any cutting during delivery (tearing and stitches yes), so my recovery may already be faster and more straightforward than other women’s. But I also haven’t been able to work out except for the occasional short walk because I still feel like someone has repeatedly punched my vagina into oblivion… and! less than 2 weeks ago I was ridiculously pregnant (see photo 1 for evidential proof)! This is one of those things, again, that I do not feel I have very much power over. I was really really in shape when I got pregnant and I think that always helps with things. I know that I would have had a more difficult time, physically, with pregnancy, if I had been out of shape – that is for sure. But, I wasn’t able to maintain any kind of workout regimen aside from the laborious and lumbering walks 4-5 days a week. And still, the body repairs, the body goes back. I’m sure it is different for everyone – people are like freaking snowflakes – but I wanted to share that at least at this point, it doesn’t have to be so traumatic. Even if you are like me and have a lot of anxiety over weight, fitting into your clothes, and have struggled to maintain a weight – any weight! – without yo-yoing all over the place… it doesn’t have to be so bad.

Now then, the scale. So I had only lost about 10 lbs with delivery, and I had gained about 50 lbs total during pregnancy. FIFTY POUNDS! That is a lot of pounds. As of today I have lost 25 of those 50 lbs. The coolest thing about not being pregnant anymore is NOT BEING PREGNANT ANYMORE! I can move! I do not have insatiable hunger! I am a normal human once again! Except I also have this fancy ability to feed my kid with my own calories. Yes, Gabe, take all the antibodies and nutrition you can… also, thank you for jump starting mommy’s metabolism, you’re a peach.

Do my old clothes fit me? No.

Do I still have a belly that I am self-conscious of? Yes.

Will that belly be around for a while longer? Probably yes.

Did I come home from the hospital with a cute little boy and some interesting loose back skin I wasn’t anticipating? Yes and yes.

But have I had any meltdowns about my body (except for that one time I ran out of sweatpants because I had put off laundry 1 day too long…)? No!! Because it really isn’t that bad. It’s not perfect. I don’t look like those people who are all, “oh yeah, I had a baby last month and I’ve been in spin class for the last two weeks!” No. But it’s not at all a horror show, I don’t feel helpless, and even if those last ___ lbs are stubborn and annoying, even if I can’t fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans until Christmas, even if all of that – I’ll work the problem. It’s no use lamenting. My body did something super cool. It popped out a human with all of his limbs intact. I’m giving it a round of applause, I’ll beat it up with pushups and sit ups and squats later.

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33 thoughts on “Talking The Postpartum Body”

  1. Lauren you are amazing. You and your beautiful, magic body that made Gabe, that put him out, that is getting back to “normal”.
    BTW, Mark read your birth stories, and he was like wow you must really be in shape to do this. And I was like yeah, Lauren was in good shape at the start, she’s strong.
    That last pic is super sweet!

  2. Yes for talking about postpartum bodies. Sometimes it feels like it’s only okay to talk about (the admittedly AWESOME) baby, but our bodies have got through some major, also quite impressive stuff and we should talk about that more, if only to show the wide range of “normal” recovery. Good job, lady – with the writing and with the growing and birthing of the adorable Gabe.

  3. So refreshing to hear something so balanced about post baby body. I mean, yes, every body is different, but it’s not often we hear about a new mother who isn’t at one or the other extreme of the spectrum.

    It sounds a little like having Gabe has given you a reminder of what awesome things a body can do. And yours definitely worked on some beautiful little miracles lately.

    1. I’ve never had anything happen to my body. I’ve never broken a bone or gone in for surgery except my wisdom teeth… I’ve never run a marathon or done any feats of strength… so even though I know that other people do these things and bounce back (I mean… I watch the olympics!) it was always OTHER people who did cool stuff or who overcame great odds. And I guess giving birth isn’t like… shockingly amazing or anything, but with very little input from me, I am floored with how the body just… handles its shit.

      (And I know that so many many people deal with fertility issues and that I am incredibly lucky to have had a good experience and that not ALL bodies do what they are “supposed to” … I’ve just never witnessed anything like this before in an up-close-and-personal way.)

  4. You look amazing! That’s no fluff, I’m dead serious. I also gained 50 lbs and as of 8 weeks PP, have lost…..10. Waaaaaa-waaaaah. My baby weighed 6 lbs 7 oz so what’s up with that, body? It’s not so much the actual poundage for me as the way my body….melted…after the baby. My belly deflated but, it also…deflated. And my hips sagged and my boobs fell and it’s weird. I have a long way to go and I’m sick and oh so tired of being told, “but you had a baby! amazing!” Yes, my body is amazing – it did that! So I need to treat it like the amazing thing it is instead of neglecting it and letting it fall into disrepair! Also, vanity.

    1. I felt this way when people told me, “you’re pregnant! you’re supposed to eat whatever you want!” When I knew that I would be paying for that indulgence on the back end. Literally and figuratively.

      Figuring out how to work out, breast feed, tend to baby, work, and eat well all at once is going to be my biggest hurdle.

    2. “but you had a baby! amazing!”
      I’ve felt this with the “But you’re having a baby, thats awesome!” comments when I’ve felt bad about how huge and ungainly I feel while pregnant. And yes, I know I dont look that huge compared to many people when this heavily pregnant, but I sitll dont like it – and I think thats ok. Sometimes you need some vanity. Hope you start to recover soon!

  5. Lauren!! Serious, SERIOUS Kudos to you for being brave and posting this. BRAVE, i tell you. You look fantastic. I love the pic of you in your cute little rainbow chonies! The body is amazing, and now that Gabe is out, YOU are in total control again! Yay!

  6. Thank you for being so candid about your whole pregnancy/birth/post-partum process! It feels like an event that’s generally shrouded in mystery, and even though I’m several years away from having a child (in terms of what I’d prefer), I feel much more calm and informed about the whole process from following your journey. I love your openness and willingness to share pictures and “unpopular” feelings (i.e. the vanity thing…which is a concern for me and makes me feel like a terrible person to think it because shouldn’t I just be thinking about how having a baby will be magical and wondrous and etc.?).

    TL;DR: I’m no longer terrified and thank you! 🙂

    FWIW, I didn’t even notice your underpants were underpants until you said so…I thought you had some yoga pants on with a very colorful waistband 🙂

  7. Good for you lady!! I’m so proud of you for that post and being able to see past the insecurities to realize what your body just did! That aside, I can remember after having my second baby, one of my visitors to the hospital said “oh, you still look pregnant” as I crawled my way out of the hospital bed. Awesome. Be strong and proud and love the hell out of pajama pants and sweats until you can stand it no more. 🙂

  8. Dear Lauren,

    I have been a regular reader of your blog for … well, it feels like ages, but have always been too shy to comment (I am not a native English speaker so I’m always afraid to embarrass myself… )
    BUT: I need to thank you for this wonderful post and for all of your very, very honest posts on your pregnancy and body image and everything 🙂 Thanks so much! You’re making this seem like something a normal person (read: me) can actually do, you don’t hide the hard stuff and I am very, very grateful for this 🙂 You hear so many things about what pregnancy does to your body and then see all of the celebraties bounce back to their pre-pregnancy body like nothing – it just lovely to get some real perspective and be able to take a look at a real body.
    If I get the courage to start trying for our dream baby anytime soon, part of it is definitely because you made it seem doable 🙂

    P. S.: Also, Gabe is so freaking cute!

  9. So freaking cool. Thanks for being open and talking about this! It seems almost “taboo” or definitely not-very-often-talked about and it’s good to hear about and see your experience!

  10. The last picture with Gabe is just perfect. As for the rest, you make being pregnant a much more approachable thing. And you make good points on everything else from body image to health to getting back to the new normal. Thank you.

  11. Your look freaking amazing! I think my belly looks like that now, 14 months postpartum. I was shocked that even after losing pretty much all the weight, my belly and waist are still quite different than they were pre-preg. Granted, I have been doing any stomach exercises or core work. Probably should at some stage to see if I can sculpt away the last vestiges of pregnancy. Cute undies, by the way 🙂

  12. You have such a healthy outlook on this, and you look really great!

    This topic is interesting to me. As a “plus-sized” lady, I actually feel my best as far as my body image when I’m pregnant; my body finally looks how our culture says it’s supposed to. Kind of bizarro.

    1. That is fascinating that pregnancy is “normalizing”. And definitely on the bullshit society scale that plus size can’t be just another body type option.

  13. It’s so refreshing to see such a level-headed, positive, healthy-body-image, realistic accounting of body-so-soon-after-baby. Thank you for sharing!

    (And I love that you shared the underpants picture, hah!)

    1. Thank you so much! It’s definitely important for me to keep it all in perspective. That being said – if I don’t have any progress in a few months, I will feel like crap. No doubt about that. But I am very hopeful that things will keep chugging along.

  14. Thank you for the reassurance that everything will in fact be OKAY after birth. I’ve been freaking out about my body”never being the same after baby.” I try to stay active so it will be easier to lose the weight after baby. I enjoyed reading your account into post baby life…THANKS!!

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