My Postpartum Body Struggles
I have been struggling with my body confidence ever since I stopped breastfeeding. There, I said it.
I lost almost all of the weight pretty quickly postpartum. It may have been the stress of navigating motherhood and working full-time. It may have been because my body was focused on providing food as I exclusively breastfed my son for 10-months and I wasn’t consuming enough calories for both of us. It may have been those workouts I forced myself to go to once I was cleared at 6-weeks that I wasn’t ready for. Who knows. But I literally dropped 20lbs of the 25lbs I had gained within 10-days of being home from the hospital.
Everything was still soft and stretched, but the weight was gone. I thought I had nothing to worry about.
Fast forward to 10-months postpartum.
I could feel weight creeping on as I started to wean from breastfeeding full-time. At this point, Ford was starting daycare and it was too stressful for me to work, pump, breastfeed, and do everything else that I had on my plate. On top of trying to fit in a workout class and meal prep. I just couldn’t do it all. So, I slowly stopped. But I didn’t expect that I would gain weight - pretty quickly and easily once I stopped breastfeeding.
But once I was done breastfeeding, I had easily gained 10lbs. And to be honest, this was hard for me.
The reason I am sharing this is not to scare you, not to make you feel sorry for me or to bring attention to my body. I am sharing this because I was looking at my body and the number on the scale in all the wrong ways. And I hope that whatever you are experiencing, you can learn to give yourself the grace to heal.
What women are not told in their motherhood journey is that it takes time for your body to heal.
I hadn’t given myself grace. I assumed I was healed. That my body was done in it’s postpartum journey, when really it had a long way left to go.
I’ve realized that the postpartum journey will be a long one and there may be a few bumps in the road. It took almost 10-months to prepare your body for birth AND I breastfed for 10-months after that. I shouldn’t have expected that my body would be fully adjusted right away. But society doesn’t tell us that. That even though you are cleared to workout, have sex or return to day-to-day activities at 6-weeks, doesn’t mean your body is ready, whether mentally or physically. Especially if your labor and deliver was a traumatic one. An emergency c-section is a major surgery, after all!
Now that I am done breastfeeding and navigating our new schedule with a toddler, I am focusing on my health and not the number on the scale. I am learning to accept that I may never weight what I did before becoming a mother. And it feels like I am starting all over in many ways. But instead of looking at the scale, I am looking at the other small victories. The fact that I can do an ab exercise without being in physical pain. That I can go to the bathroom without feeling like I was going to rip in half (TMI, maybe). That I can hold my 24-lb toddler without hurting my back. Or that I survived the first year of parenting, while running a business…with many, many sleepless nights while balancing both.
I am stronger now in many ways, even if my body doesn’t look the same way or reflect the number that it once did.
I don’t want my body to ‘bounce back’. I only want to look forward at this point.
At present, I am focusing on fueling myself with food that keeps my body running and will make me feel better on the inside and out. I am focused on positive body associations and not talking negatively about my physical flaws, so that I don’t cause any mental trama to my son. I am focused on healing myself and my past behaviors and personal traumas toward food, fitness and my body. I am focused on feeling happy and not letting my body affect the joy I experience as a mother. Because it was all so, so, so worth it. And my body is strong, beautiful and amazing. I am thankful for my body and the beautiful life it created. I am thankful that I had the chance to be on this journey and won’t take it for granted.