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Early Cinco de Mayo + Thoughts on the Post-Pregnancy Body

May 4, 2012

Hi friends!  Doing the Friday dance over here…although we’re running on a little less sleep over here.  After a few nights of great sleeping, Lila decided to throw a little party last night.  It was an all-nighter, and Ryan and I were both invited—lucky us! 🙂

Dinner last night was an early Cinco de Mayo meal:

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Tacos with toppings.  Easy and delicious.

I went to another Barre class yesterday morning, and I’m feeling it today—those classes are no joke.  I was going to go to another class today, but when I woke up and could barely lift my legs out of bed, I decided a little break might be necessary.  I know I need to ease back into these workouts—my strength is nowhere near where it used to be, even though I worked out during my pregnancy.

It’s hard not to throw myself into working out with abandon for a few reasons.  First and foremost, I like exercising.  I like the way it makes me feel, and I love the stress release that comes with it.  I’ve always been an exerciser, and consider it a part of my identity.  No, I don’t win medals at races. No, I don’t run marathons.  But I consistently do something on most days of the week, and I like to push myself.  I like sweat.  I like breathlessness.  I like my red face.  Working out is not something I have to do—it’s something I like doing.  Eating healthy doesn’t always come easily for me, but exercise?  That I love.

And secondly—and this is where things get a little more complicated—I miss my old body, and, frankly, I’d like to have it back. 

I read this article on the Huffington Post yesterday, and while I enjoyed parts of it, some of it really rubbed me the wrong way.  In the article, Winterton writes, “It’s time to pause and ask where our obsession with eradicating the physical evidence of pregnancy and birth has come from…” and then argues that much of it comes from societal pressure.  She writes that women in America are “reared on a diet of post-baby celebrity bodies,” and therefore feel a strong need to return to “the ‘perfect, taut stomach’ of a pre-pregnancy teenage girl” almost immediately after giving birth.

First of all, my stomach has never been the perfect, taut stomach of a pre-pregnancy teenage girl—even when I was a teenage girl.  My body pre-pregnancy certainly was not perfect—but it was my body.  So much of pregnancy and motherhood is about relinquishing control, and part of that is relinquishing control of your body.  In pregnancy, your body, especially your stomach, becomes something not wholly your own.  Post-pregnancy,especially  if you decide to breastfeed, you certainly hand over your breasts. 

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling a little bit sad about this—or even angry.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mourning the loss of your old body, rather than celebrating your new one.  Honestly, it’s pretty hard for most women to celebrate stretch marks.  In the article, one mother calls her stretch marks a “badge of motherhood.”  I think it’s wonderful that she thinks of her body in such positive terms.  But you know what?  I have a badge of motherhood too—her name is Lila.  So you can keep the stretch marks. 

I don’t think it means that I’m superficial or have fallen prey to the evils of our celebrity-obsessed society, simply because I’d like to fit in my shorts again.  I’m not striving to be Jessica Alba—I just want to recognize my body again.  With everything that has changed in the past nine months, seeing my old, familiar body will be like welcoming an old friend back into my life.  And these days, I’ll take familiarity wherever I can get it.

Whew—long post.  If you’re still reading, have a great weekend!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2012 3:10 pm

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with (or a woman alive) who doesn’t want to regain at least some familiar aspect of her old body back after pregnancy. It doesn’t have to be exactly as is, but sort of close would be nice 🙂 At least I think most women feel that way!

    Have a great weekend!

  2. May 4, 2012 3:16 pm

    Yah- its a mixed bag of emotions. I am really struggling with the separation of my abdominal muscles…its BAD. I finally got told by my primary care doctor that I should consider surgery to repair the area (as I still look a few months preggers due to my intestines rocking through the middle of my abs)….but the surgery is rough and it doesn’t always work. I do hate those magazines that harp on celebrities that look perfect a few months later, but I say kuddos to those girls for getting there!

    • May 5, 2012 12:55 am

      Awww, I’m sorry Erica– I remember when you first posted on that on your blog a while back, and I just assumed it had gotten better 😦

  3. May 4, 2012 3:25 pm

    You are amazing! And right! If I had a baby I would work-out as well…why not get back into shape? I’ve never been an exerciser until around 3 years ago and now I’m like you, I like to sweat a little each day.

  4. Ali permalink
    May 4, 2012 3:27 pm

    You hit the nail on the head Anna! And who wants to have to go out and buy all new jeans! Certainly not me! Have a great weekend!

    • May 5, 2012 12:56 am

      Ha, exactly!! Especially after having to buy maternity clothes!!

  5. May 4, 2012 4:39 pm

    Oh my gosh I still feel this way on so many levels. My body is completely unrecognizable after having the boys. I’m smaller than I was before and my boobs no longer exist. The smaller part is mostly due to the fact that I got a rare tumor after having Max that is from the genes of the colon cancer that runs in my family and occurs mostly in women after giving birth. So, not only did I lose my body to pregnancy, I have a beautiful scar down my abdomen and am missing a large portion of my muscles there too. I think there is nothing wrong with just wanting to be you (physically and mentally) after giving birth. I am still me and you don’t need a badge of honor just because you have given birth.

  6. May 4, 2012 5:46 pm

    I feel like clapping my hands! Awesome post. And you’re right, Lila is that badge and that’s beautiful. I dont’ think women should be ashamed of stretch marks or c-section scars, but that doesn’t have to mean that they necessarily want them either. I think it’s great that you enjoy exercise and being fit and healthy. For starters, it makes you feel better so you can be a better mom AND Lila will grow up seeing her mom being active. I think that’s a fantastic message.

  7. May 4, 2012 7:08 pm

    Well said! This is fabulous!! While my body has not endured pregnancy, I can already anticipate that i will want to make some efforts to get it back into shape. Who knows if it will be my “old” body – and I’m sure some stretch marks etc will persist – but I don’t think there is anything wrong in a woman trying to regain fitness (and some of her old imagine) when and if medically appropriate. It certainly doesn’t make her any less of a mother!

  8. May 4, 2012 8:09 pm

    i totally agree. i think it’s a good thing to want your old body back as long as it’s healthy and not an obsession. i think i speak for both you and me when i say that we want to be strong and healthy to better take care of our kiddos. part of that also means being happy with the way you (we) look.

    p.s. i like the badge of motherhood comment 🙂

  9. May 5, 2012 12:45 am

    I agree with you. While I think the media does put too much emphasis on women getting their pre-pregnancy bodies back, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to do so.

  10. Jane Olsan permalink
    May 5, 2012 4:17 am

    You’ll get your body back because you DO exercise … It just doesn’t happen overnight!!! But when you are around 60 for some reason you start looking a little pregnant and of course you aren’t .. So not fun… Body’s not coming back this time! She’s only 3 weeks right?

  11. May 5, 2012 11:07 am

    I can’t necessarily speak from experience, but come on, who wouldn’t want to have their pre-pregnancy body back?! In our society, where 66% of us are obese or overweight, I think it’s good that women strive to get back to their pre-pregnancy bodies! Imagine if they DIDN’T! I bet if it was the opposite, and most women didn’t care, an article would be written about that too. Ugh, that article rubbed me the wrong way too, and I’m not even a mom!

    Happy Cinco de Mayo 🙂

  12. May 6, 2012 4:07 pm

    There is nothing wrong with wanting your body back after pregnancy, it doesn’t mean you have to run yourself into the ground trying to get it. But I don’t know any women who want to show off post-pregnancy stretch marks. Woman shouldn’t feel bad about the changes, but it looks like the movie goes overboard in embracing them.

  13. May 7, 2012 2:26 pm

    I think the issue is how quickly the celebs are expected to magically get back to their tiny pre-pregnancy shapes. Like some of the mom’s will describe their diets in magazines, “oh I’m just following a healthy 1000 calorie/day diet” and then she quickly shrinks back to her size zero shape in a matter of a month… it’s not realistic (or healthy) but everyone in the media praises them.

    I can see where that would create a lot of pressure and unrealistic expectations for the average woman. I’m not pregnant, but I know I’ll want to get my shape back afterwards, I just know it will take some time and patience, which is not what the media portrays.

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