It’s now been 11 weeks since I had Bridgette, and I’m pleased to report that I still have a body.
I say that because I’ve heard and seen of so many women who are afraid that having a baby will ruin their bodies. Or they did have a baby or multiple babies, and they feel their bodies are now ruined. Gaining all that weight is scary, stretch marks will permanently mar the skin, ab muscles will separate, boobs will be forever saggy, etc. My mom even had a weird thing happen where she can’t wear non-gold earrings anymore. She’s now allergic to cheapness.
I wasn’t exactly one of those women, but I had my fears. It was scary watching the scale numbers go up every time I had a doctor’s appointment. I topped off at 213 lbs. I knew babies usually only weighed between 6 and 10 lbs, so I assumed the rest of that weight was fat – Fat that would basically never go away. I made plans for a diet as soon as Bridgette came out, resolved that I had to lose all that weight. I bought a BelleFit, basically a post-pregnancy girdle, in the hopes of getting my waist back. Despite my forced optimism, it was depressing. Based on how I was looking, it seemed I’d be a sausage forever.
I kept oiling my abdomen with lotion, determined not to get stretch marks. I made it all the way to the end of the third trimester, weeks from my due date, before they made an appearance. They appeared in an area I would have never thought I’d get stretch marks, not on my stomach, but lower, and stood out, angry and red.
I even got some random chin hairs. That was probably the weirdest part.
Well, I had the baby, and even though there are some changes, my body is mostly intact.
After she came out, and the nurses whisked her and my husband away, I was left with the cleanup crew, putting me back together. They were preparing to move me to my new bed for the next three days. They pulled off all my wrappings and operation coverings, and still laying on the operating table, I could (sort of) see my body again. I happened to reach down, and I felt my stomach. It was empty. Where there used to be a huge hard ball, there was nothing. My stomach was flat. Even though it seems super obvious that with the baby out, there’s not going to be anything there, the suddenness of it was amazing. It felt like my old stomach, something I hadn’t felt in months. It was so shocking, I even told the nurses how amazed I was (and likely sounded pretty stupid, pointing out the obvious).
As I didn’t move from that bed for 24 hours, I didn’t give any further thought to my stomach. It was one of the first solo times to the bathroom, struggling to stay upright due to the pain of the operation when I looked in the mirror. My stomach… basically looked the same as it did before I was pregnant. There was no bulge, no leftover pregnancy bump, nothing. Just the same flabby little stomach I had before, granted there was a huge wound below it.
I tried to start dieting immediately, but it was really hard to get the motivation. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do anything but take care of the baby, and it seemed like way too much effort to try. I didn’t even leave the house for 2 weeks, so I was relying on whatever food was brought to me. I couldn’t even bear the thought of wearing the Bellefit. My c-section wound felt too raw to pull anything over it.
But, one day, probably four weeks after giving birth, I stepped on the scale. I’d lost 30 lbs. I’d been doing nothing. I couldn’t work out because of the c-section (my guts still felt like they were going to spill out), and I hadn’t been careful with dieting. And yet, it was coming off. It wasn’t fat after all. It was fluids, extra blood, and all the things my body had used while I was pregnant, and I didn’t need them anymore. I’d like to say that instantly spurred me to take control of my diet and exercise, but that was a few weeks later, when I started up Whole 30 again, which I have been on ever since. Since starting, I’ve lost even more weight, although I have not stepped on a scale again.
I’m still working on losing the weight, but it’s basically now just weight I already had before. I did wear the Bellefit for a few weeks, but it became too painful, and not around the waist. It was basically a body suit, and the strap going in between my legs was too dang painful. It did help me fit into my Gold Cup dress though.
My body has changed a little. There is a new fat storage area right below my belly button that really wasn’t there before. I still have the stretch marks, but they are fading. And I have a huge scar. But the scar is so low that no one will ever see it, and it too is fading. Granted, I stopped breastfeeding around week 8 due to supply issues, but my boobs are exactly the same as they were before.
This is just my experience, and I just have the one baby, so I don’t speak for everyone. But I am what would be considered an older mother, and I’ve heard it’s harder to come back the older you get. I can’t say for sure that my experience is harder or easier than anyone else’s, but I believe a big part of why it seems to easy for me is that I exercised from the second trimester on, and I started exercising and being careful with my diet as soon as I could afterward. As long as I keep this up, I’m confident I’ll be even better than I was before I got pregnant.
But even if I was struggling, I don’t think I would feel too bad. I wasn’t a supermodel before, and I don’t rely on my body to pay the bills. I rely on it to keep me living a full life, and that means taking care of it, which I would do regardless of the pregnancy.
Additionally, the body changes over time anyway. We aren’t going to remain 20-year-olds forever. We’re all going to age. Even if my boobs were perfect before (they weren’t), they’d be sagging anyway in a matter of time.
My point in all this is – please don’t think your body will be ruined afterward. Or if you already have given birth, don’t think your body is damaged. I can’t predict what will happen to anyone, but for the majority of women, their bodies are just fine afterward, perhaps just with a few battle scars. You’re still you, maybe just with a different finish.
Take care of the body you have. You and your body are not separate entities. It is only capable of what you do with it, and every bit capable of what you make it do.