Thursday, December 5, 2013

My thoughts on the "post-baby body"

I've seen a number of articles on the web lately about post-baby bodies. There seems to be a trend of woman posting their amazing looking post-baby bodies, and then a wave of discussion about if it's fair or if it's fat-shaming. I don't know how I feel about the trend. But I can share how I think about the female body during the changes it goes through when creating, birthing, and then nurturing a baby.

The way the body handles pregnancy and then post-partum differs for everyone. There really are 2 factors that contribute: genetics and lifestyle. One you have no control over, the other (to be honest) you have minimal control over once you also have a baby to take care of. I suppose medical issues would be considered a 3rd factor though not having experienced that I won't touch on it. To speak to genetics...

The reality is that some woman have naturally slim physiques and high metabolisms. A good friend of mine was pregnant at the same time as I was and our babies were born 3 weeks apart. She is the naturally thin type. She put on very little weight during her pregnancy, and the weight also slipped away after birth. We'd get together when the babies were a couple months old and I'd marvel at her completely flat abs-defined stomach while mine was still sporting pudge. I had jealously, but the reality is that her body is just built differently than mine. To quote the ever wonderful Allison Janney in this movie, "accept it and move on". When it comes to celebrities, these are usually people who are in the genetically blessed category. It's therefore not suprising to me that models and actresses can show off their amazing post-baby bodies. Plus, not only do they have genetics on their side, their lifestyle is built around looking good. I'm sure they prioritize getting back into shape. This brings me to lifestyle...

Pre-baby I was someone with a regular workout routine, and I tried to be conscious of what I ate. I didn't diet but I tried not to over-eat, limited desserts, etc. I was in pretty good shape and felt fairly good about how I looked. During pregnancy, I basically followed the same routine. The kind of workouts I did changed but I still exercised regularly. I was eating a bit more (I could no longer get away with skipping breakfast). And during my first trimester I was particularly ravenous. But in general I tried not to over-eat, have too much sugar, etc. I gained what I considered to be the average expected weight for someone my height. Post-baby, when I was given the ok by my doctor I went back to working out regularly, and continued to be conscious of what I ate (see a trend?). So, even though it wasn't as fast as my friend, by the time the Pepper was about 7 months old I was mostly back to my pre-baby body. And I know that's pretty good! The reality is that I don't workout as much as I used to. But I make it a priority to do it and I'm lucky that my husband supports me in the effort. But just because it's something I prioritize and am able to work into my life, I know not everyone has that ability.

So, I support any woman in her choices. If she is lucky to be both genetically gifted and able to form a routine that allows her to focus on getting back into shape, good for her! If someone's genetics means it's harder for them to loose weight, and their responsibilities mean they can't focus on their bodies, I support her too! Everyone is different and everyone's lives are different. Part of the work is not taking the choices other people make as personal criticisms of the choices I make.

Photo via. After pregnancy my body looks a more like that pin-up than my more sporty pre-baby self.

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