Giving Postpartum Expectations the Middle Finger
Mom Brain. Mom Guilt. Mom Belly... there are plenty of mom specific things that come with having a new baby. In fact, most of those things I fully expect to deal with in my postpartum stage. There is one thing that I never expect myself to do. I never expect myself to "bounce back" after having a baby.
With a new baby there are many new challenges. One of those challenges is this idea that moms are expected to recover quickly and get right back into carpool duty, laundry and life! I'm sure you've seen the Instagram model moms who are back in pre-pregnancy jeans within days of giving birth, looking amazing with a full face of pageant worthy make up while holding her perfectly dressed newborn. I'm not sure how anyone finds the time to contour their face within days of giving birth but hey, to each their own!
After my last post about the hospital gala, I got so many questions about how I was out and looking put together at a black tie event just 3 weeks after having a baby. I need to clear the air! While we had a fabulous time, I was absolutely struggling with brain fog from lack of sleep while checking my phone every ten seconds and trying to keep my rapidly filling boobs in my dress that was too tight. That was the reality! And yes, I said boobs... moving on! ;)
For me, I’ve never been a bounce back quickly kind of person so I know that hiding the scale is super important for me. I get so wrapped up in the number on the scale that I end up making poor dieting choices. Especially while I am nursing, I need to focus on how I feel and not on a number displayed on the scale. When I’m able to put the number on the scale aside, I can focus on my energy level. I have a couple of rules that I follow to get my energy back and to feel healthy after we welcome a baby. Go ahead and give the scale the middle finger too!
My number one rule is water! I drink at least 48 ounces of water every day and another 16-32 ounces in the evening. Keeping myself hydrated helps me with keeping my milk supply up and it helps me to “feel full” instead of searching for snacks when I’m really just thirsty. Drinking water is easier for me when I have a straw. I am obsessed with this water bottle and this lid.
My second rule is “real food only.” I find that if I’m prepared for meals, I am much more likely to eat real food instead of snacks. In the past, I’ve been one to grab three Oreos on my way out the door to pick up kids from school when I realize that the Oreos are the first thing that I’ve eaten all day. Now, keeping bite sized pieces of grilled chicken, healthy soups, lots of avocados and pre-portioned salads in my fridge make all the difference. Eating 4-5 small meals keeps my energy up, too.
I’ve also been working on creating a great, protein rich granola or trail mix in my snack drawers so if anyone out there has a recipe that they love, please share! I crave oatmeal so adding a granola to my diet keeps me from baking oatmeal cookies at 10pm.
Finally, I don’t practice the 9 months on, 9 months off mentality. It may take me 9 months to gain the weight but if I give myself 9 months to lose it, I will get too comfortable and I’ll never shed the weight. Instead, I use a timeline based on my maternity clothes. With this pregnancy it took me until I was about 15 weeks pregnant to break out my maternity jeans so I’m giving myself 15 weeks to continue to wear my maternity jeans. This timeline keeps me motivated and FOR ME, and I can only speak for myself, it encourages me to stick to a healthy diet and stay active.
I'm officially at the 6 week postpartum mark and I have to say, I always dread this mark! With a quick postpartum checkup, a woman is considered "good to go!" While a 6 week old baby is still very much a newborn, the world views the mother as "healed." Meanwhile, most babies still aren't sleeping through the night and the mental clarity of a postpartum mom is far from back to "normal" yet we expect life to return to normalcy.
This is such an important time for moms. It's time to take baby steps that get you back to feeling more like your old self but the 6 week mark shouldn't feel like you have to have it all figured out. Be kind to yourself! (Preaching to myself, here.) Please feel free to give this idea of "bouncing back" the middle finger! It's like my shirt says below, "Don't Mess With Mama."
What postpartum tricks for diet and exercise get you back to feeling like your old self?