Firstly let’s get some things straight. If you have had a baby in the last few weeks, you should not even be thinking about what you or your body look like. You should be nesting, resting, (ha, ha well trying!), and enjoying bonding with your new baby.
Secondly, I am not claiming to be some skinny, toned Mum Goddess. However, I have had 6 babies and I don’t look too horrendous. If anything it has given me the opportunity to reflect on whether it is important to make an effort to change my post baby body and if so how I do it and why.
So if you haven’t already realised having a baby does change your body. Firstly, you lay down the extra fat stores. This is perfectly normal, and it’s just your body’s way of preparing for the extra calories that it will need if you choose to breastfeed. This fat often accumulates on your face, your breasts your tummy, and your bum. Which leads me onto the next topic, the mum tum. After having a baby most women are left with a small or sometimes slightly larger tummy. The size of your mum tum will depend on things such as your weight, type of birth you had, your age and general level or fitness. Women who are younger and more fitter to start with often find that their mum tum goes down very quickly. The mum tum is caused by the extra fat laid down in pregnancy. Also, there are a pair of muscles called the rectus abdominis which stretch apart slightly during pregnancy to accommodate the growing baby. These remain slightly stretched apart after pregnancy giving the tummy a slightly rounded look.
So should does it really matter if our bodies are different after pregnancy? Should we do anything to change them?
Recently, some women have been fighting back against the yummy mummy ideal by photographing their mum bods and posting pictures of them on social media. I’m all for this. Why shouldn’t we celebrate our post pregnancy bodies? We should normalise these images instead of the plastic, unrealistic Barbie bodies that our culture just can’t seem to get over.
However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some undeniable advantages to taking care of your post baby body is.
- Maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity will reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes to name but a few.
- Exercise is amazing for mental health.
- Toning our abdominal muscles is great for preventing and relieving back pain and also supporting our spine.
- Ensuring that you are a healthy weight is important if you are hoping to have another baby.
- Consider joining a postnatal exercise group. The workouts will be targeted for women’s bodies following childbirth and you might make some friends.
- Try to find the time to follow a YouTube exercise routine especially designed for postnatal women. I like this one.
- When you have the time, take your baby for a walk in the buggy. Think of all the extra calories you will be burning when you push that buggy.
- Breastfeed! When you are exclusively breastfeeding you will require an extra 675 cal a day. Many of these will come from the fat stores that you have laid down during pregnancy. Amazing!
- Choose yourclothes carefully. Some outfits are going to accentuate your mum tum and make you still look pregnant. There’s nothing wrong with that but most women aren’t keen on being asked if they’re expecting when they’re really not. Avoid tight body con dresses and waist bands that dig in.
- Don’t ever, ever diet after you have had a baby. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, when you are a new mum you need to be feeding your body with good healthy food to aid recovery and not going without! If after a few months you find that the baby weight hasn’t shifted and you are actually overweight, consider joining Slimming World. Just make sure to tell them you’ve had a baby recently.
- Make sure you discuss with your midwife or GP before embarking on any strenuous activity, especially if you had a C section.
- Try to relax and do things at your own pace. Whether it is your first baby or not, a new child in the household is a big up upheaval. Your new baby will love you whatever you look like and your body has done an amazing job.
- Don’t ever, ever compare yourself to other women, especially celebrities who portray their post baby body on social media. Their lives are not yours and you are unique.