My Body After Baby | A Fitness Photo Journey

After having a baby, you’re in many ways, in a new body. The body you have before baby is yours. The body you have during pregnancy is shared. So, the body you have after is in many ways “new“. Reborn. At the very least – different than before.

I was very scared, much before I ever got pregnant or even wanted to get pregnant, about the changes my body would experience postpartum. I feared stretch marks. I didn’t want to lose my flat (or somewhat flat) tummy. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to lose any of the weight I would gain during pregnancy.

*Disclaimer: This blog is intended for informational purposes only. The information on this blog should not be used as a substitute to medical advice or medical treatment. As always, your Primary Care Provider, a doctor, or another health professional is your best resource for specific questions and medical advice. If you believe you or a loved one are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911. Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

When I was in my early 20s I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have kids because I had such a bad relationship with my body already, I worried that any type of drastic change might make it worse. When I healed my relationship with my body (and myself), and was finally in love with the idea of having children (this was amplified by the great love I have for my husband, oh and definitely a little by being around babies all the time on nursing placement rotations and then at work) I did feel a lot more optimistic about my future postpartum body – but I still had worries and no idea what it would be like to actually be in it.

These types of thoughts are very common, I think. I’ve seen a lot of other women preoccupied with these concerns. I have seen women worrying about their weight gain while they’re still pregnant. This is likely a result of many factors, one major one being the media portrayal of the “ideal” woman and the marketing campaign to try and “get you there”.

There is a lot of this specifically targeted at women who have children, and it’s been going on for longer than we know. First thing I think of is MLMs that target women on Instagram, trying to get you to buy into their fitness scheme or buy their sketchy supplements. That is just the new media version of the advertisements women used to see in old magazines for weight loss, such as the post-war ones from the 1950s featuring Eileen Fowler. This type of advertising was often targeted at women who recently had children and needed to be careful not to “let themselves go”.

Hard stop. Why are we still letting this type of advertising and marketing get to us? It’s hard not to. They’re targeting women at a weak spot. You’re postpartum, you’re probably really tired and overwhelmed for the first little bit. You’re adjusting to a new lifestyle, a new or bigger family, and a new body in some ways. Even if your changes can’t be clearly seen from the outside, pregnancy changes you in many ways you can’t see. It changes you emotionally, sometimes drastically. Many women suffer from baby blues (about 70-80% in the US, and that’s just reported numbers) and likely more than the reported 10-20% experience PPD (and other similar conditions).

People are taking advantage of us at a moment they know they can. They’re making money off of us. But worst of all, they’re making generations of women feel bad about their body when their body just did something so beautiful. Whatever your pregnancy experience was – a walk in the park or a sweaty-uncomfortable-nauseous-extravaganza – your body still did an amazing thing, something not everyone gets to (or wants to) experience.

(Special shout out to all women, no matter your path in life – every one of you is amazing and valuable and I support you.)

My point is – you are amazing & so is your body. Be patient. Be kind. It takes 9 months (or so) for your body to carry and nurture a baby, so it is not surprising that it may also take time for your body to change postpartum. It likely will never be the same as before in one way or another. You may have to work to get where you want to be (or you may not!) – but don’t rush and remember that there are safe ways to approach this. Talk to your HCP, certified personal trainer, registered dietitian, physiotherapist; a counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist; whoever you need and will best support you. Get support from those close to you. Connect with other moms who have been through it too. All of this can help as you approach this new and confusing time in your life and get better acquainted with your “new” body or being.

So, all that being said, here is a little bit about my postpartum journey. Remember that every body is different as you look through this. I’m sharing because I think it can always be helpful to someone to share experiences, if only to let you know you’re not alone and that many people are going or have been through this journey too.

This was me just after I got pregnant, before I knew.

I was working out 3-5x a week, lifting heavy, doing cardio. I was tracking macros. I was probably in the best shape I had been up to that point in my life.

Had I been smaller in my life? Oh yes. I wasn’t healthy though.

This was me about a week out from having Maggie.

I think I was 39 weeks pregnant here and I had Maggie just before I hit 41 weeks (crazy). At this point I felt very large – I gained around 40 lbs during pregnancy however I tried not to be too concerned with the number on the scale during pregnancy – I know, easier said than done. I just made sure I was taking care of myself – working out, eating well, relaxing when needed, enjoying a social life. Supporting my physical + mental health as best as I could. Getting support when I needed it.

What was I doing for fitness?

At this point – nada. I had stopped working out during pregnancy around 34 weeks (I was lifting and doing one of Brittany Lesser’s old programs at the time, pre-1Hera). I did yoga till 38 weeks pregnant and then I even got too sore and heavy for that. I felt OK with this decision though – my whole pregnancy I was very cautious with working out. I felt good, so I did it. Many random people made comments of surprise about this (and also told me many old wives tales about the dangers of lifting your arms over your head during pregnancy), but since I was working out before I continued on during pregnancy. I dropped my weight max down of course and I didn’t do anything core-related, or near my abdomen (ie. I stopped doing hip thrusts and similar movements). When I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore, I stopped. I started prioritizing sleeping and rest as I got closer to my due date because that is what my body needed, but like I said, every body is different. You may be able to keep going, or you may not even be able to work out at all for a variety of reasons. All of this is okay. Do what is best for yourself & your body (and your baby).

Fast forwardMaggie is born (yay). Happiest time of our lives despite the exhaustion that followed.

What did I do immediately after?

NOTHING. No exercise until I was cleared by my midwives. I didn’t try anything – didn’t want to because I didn’t want to hurt myself, and didn’t have time to even if I was carefree. Being a new mom/parent is extremely busy, exhausting and of course – exhilarating. What I did do, once I got the ok, was start walking a ton with the baby in the stroller. It was nice for us both – she got a nap in, some fresh air (or at least different air – this was pre-COVID so we did hit up the mall a few times because Canada is c-o-l-d in January) and I got to move around a bit while not over-exerting myself. I started moving pretty soon after I gave birth because I felt well enough to do so. Don’t worry if you don’t – I think I was abnormal in that I felt ok doing it and I also mentioned in my postpartum experience vlog that I felt like I should have taken it a bit easier (though walking did seem to help a lot with the healing of my stitches). Follow the recommendation of your provider(s) and honestly, rest where and whenever you can!

How was I feeling?

Tired. Sleepy. Exhausted. Oh wait, those are all the same thing. I had major brain fog and was very forgetful (kind of how I was just before I had her too). I was weepy, but mostly just when looking into my baby’s eyes. I felt happy and in love!

1 month postpartum.

Not cleared yet, still 2 weeks away. And yes – there will always be a dog toy in my photos. This is more realistically what I looked like for most of February:

Babywearing was life (that’s all I was doing in terms of “fitness” other than the continued walking) – hey, it’s also a good unintentional form of fitness because babies are heavy or get heavy. Even just walking around your house with baby on you is great – but again, only do what you feel comfortable with and what is ok’d by your provider.

How was I feeling?

More adjusted. Still a bit emotional, but happy tears only. I felt supported, although my husband had just returned to work so Maggie & I were adjusting to our (temporary) new normal of it just being her and I. Some days were exhausting (cluster feeding) but others were amazing. I loved watching her grow everyday!

6 weeks postpartum.

I was cleared to work out! However, I didn’t feel ready yet so I waited until 7 weeks postpartum to start working out again. Some people may need longer than this – especially if you’ve had a C-section which is a whole different recovery process. Talk to your provider + listen to your body.

What did I do for fitness?

I started 1Hera, Brittany Lesser’s online programming for pregnant and postpartum women – actually all women, it’s just a program that also includes pregnant/postpartum material. As you can see in my selfie – I felt good after! I was sweaty and rosy-cheeked – something I hadn’t experience in what felt like a very long time! The postpartum programming in 1Hera was perfectly tailored to my week postpartum and I felt that it matched what I could do/felt comfortable doing at the time. Note: 1Hera is still the program I am doing now, at 6 months postpartum. I highly recommend it to anyone – but especially any expecting or postpartum mamas because it’s an app on your phone (easy); has gym and the key right now, home workouts; and is easy to fit into your day (I talked about that here). Not sponsored – just love the program (and the person XOXO).

2 months postpartum.

I felt like my abdomen was finally starting to go down in regards to the swelling/bloating. I had lost a lot of muscle in my upper body from not working out for awhile, but now I was lifting/carrying a baby on a regular basis so I figured it wouldn’t take long for it to come back.

What did I do for fitness?

At this point I started doing postpartum mom and baby yoga too – however, then COVID hit. Luckily my programming all went online! We were able to continue it from the comfort of our nursery which was amazing for Maggie since she was still pretty little and preferred to be in the home environment.

How was I feeling?

Even more adjusted – then the pandemic crept up. I have to admit I felt a lot anxiety the first few weeks of the pandemic. My husband was home from work though, so that was a bonus for both Maggie and I.

3 months postpartum.

My lower belly was/is the part of my body I still am not “used” to yet but, I’ve found ways to work with it. I loved high-waisted pants/shorts/skirts/etc. pre-pregnancy, so I just let my love for these things go wild in postpartum. Leggings are also a big favorite of mine. Spanx can be your friend in a tighter dress. But don’t feel like you need to use any of these at all – wear what you are comfortable in. By 3 months pp, I still felt very “far” from myself, but I was loving the changes I was noticing in my body every week! It wasn’t necessarily appearance related either – emotionally, physically, etc.

What did I do for fitness?

At this point I was doing the same things as before, but we also started mom & baby salsa classes! So much fun. Baby wearing so you get a HELL of a workout – highly recommend if it’s available in your area. I did mine through Salsa Babies (they offer Salsa Bellies too for pregnancy, and Salsa Tots for older kids). I did them virtually because of COVID, however I hope next pregnancy/baby to do them in person!

How was I feeling?

Still a bit anxious, but mostly around COVID & financials since my husband was laid off. I was proud of myself for still managing to work out – and it did get a bit easier to do for awhile since he was home. Emotions were much less by now – just seemed to fluctuate like before pregnancy.

4 months postpartum.

A huge change by this point for me! My abdomen was actually not bloated anymore. I was starting to feel and look a bit stronger.

What was I doing for fitness?

WALKING. Yoga, salsa, 1Hera workouts (I just started the non-postpartum workouts at this month) so a bit of light weights.

I had to try and find weights to use at home (I’ve successfully built a small collection now) but I also grabbed resistance bands (leg bands and regular ones with handles), and a kettle bell.

I was basically feeling the same as the previous month!

5 months postpartum.

Bathing suit season! I had gone through my closet and purged all my old bikinis and suits when the pandemic began. I grabbed this suit from Walmart because I only had 1 bathing suit left (a maternity one). I was very nervous about wearing a bathing suit for the first time, but once I put it on I felt comfortable and happy. Took Maggie for her first swim in a pool, and we’ve been many times since in both the pool and the lake. I grabbed a second suit from Amazon (Cupshe) so that I could switch it up.

What was I doing for fitness?

1Hera, walking (+++) daily, swimming, and HIIT workouts through my gym (online) as well as mom & baby yoga (socially distanced in person starting this month!)

How was I feeling?

Strangely emotional and then… period. I also had a lot of healthy anxiety leading up to it which was so strange – I felt a bit like I was going crazy, but then I was like ohhh… makes sense. Maggie had started sleeping through the night on and off more in the past month, so I figured those longer stretches were why I got it back. No complaints – it wasn’t as bad as I expected.

6 months postpartum.

Here were are this past weekend. I felt pretty good in this suit (the Amazon one I linked prior). My upper body is finally getting it’s form/tone back, which I love. I continue to be happy & healthy, and this month I also started to incorporate some nutrition aspects to my postpartum journey. No, I am not doing a diet of any type. I stay away from them because of my history with eating. I’m just being more conscious of what I’m eating (intuitive eating basically, if you’ve heard of it). I said to myself I would start at 6 months, because life as a new mother/parent is a rollercoaster and I knew it wasn’t realistic for me to be worried about what I was eating early on. Not that I didn’t eat healthy, because I did, but I also didn’t worry if after a long day (or week) I treated myself a bit. It’s all about balance – and I’m still about that now. With M starting to eat solids though, it makes it easier for me to eat healthy snacks (this is my biggest weakness usually) since I have to cut up fruits and veggies for her anyways! A great and easy tip for anyone reaching this point postpartum.

What am I doing for fitness?

1Hera, HIIT workouts (also a Barre workout once a week which I love – all online via my local women’s fitness centre), mom/baby yoga (starting another session next week), still walking, swimming, and so on. I try to get out for 20-30 mins in the morning walking (before the heat wave if possible) and then we usually take an afternoon and/or evening walk too. I’m home, so it’s different if you’re working – you’re likely already doing a lot of steps/walking anyways! I grabbed a barbell and plates over the last little bit so I’ve also been lifting heavier during my 1Hera workouts – it’s felt good so far!

I forgot to mention I of course stretch a TON. Usually after every workout however, I have Maggie with me all day so sometimes I don’t get to. I try to prioritize it the next day though if I miss it. Massage is also really nice for the postpartum body, just saying. I recently went when my massage therapist opened her doors back up – I had to wear a mask and opt-ed to lay on my side for the massage, but it was still great.

How am I feeling?

Great, honestly. I feel pretty much back to normal or I at least feel like I’ve reached a more consistent “new normal”. The only thing that seems to be “residual” from pregnancy is my IBS (which was essentially dormant during pregnancy) which had gotten worse since I had Maggie. It’s a bit better now but that’s definitely one of the things I’ve struggled with postpartum and honestly it has at times made me emotional. My husband returned to work in the past 2 weeks so my anxiety is much less. Maggie & I are on our own again and we are getting back into a routine. Life is good – despite the chaos around us, we are doing well.

I hope all of you who have taken the time to peruse this post are also doing well, given the circumstances. I shared my experience because I know in pregnancy + postpartum I spent a lot of time googling what other people were doing at the phase I was in, or what they felt/looked like. Just remember each postpartum journey is unique to you – it’s very much trial & error for some things, but it’s also about balance in so many ways. Be patient & kind with yourself and you’ll get to where you need to be.

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