Getting Used to Your Post-partum Body

When I was pregnant I would scroll through Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram and admire the toned, perfect looking new moms. I couldn't wait to be them: walking around, looking great, showing off my fat doll baby. Although I was blessed with chunky babies, I did not bounce back. Initially, I was completely overwhelmed with my flab and misshapen boobs; however, over the course of two pregnancies I have learned some important things to keep in mind.

First things first--give yourself a break. Not everyone is brilliantly motivated to hit the gym or start the perfect diet after giving birth. Some are simply trying to keep their head above water as they figure out how baby and life fit together.

My OB/Gyn, Dr. Tomevi, advised me to "Chill out." She explained I had diastasis recti which is the separation of "the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen." Diastasis occurs most often in women who "have carried multiples...a large baby to term, and are of small stature and fit or are age 35 or older." Dr. Tomevi also made it clear that diastasis may take 3 to 6 months to begin healing. With this in mind, I forwent trying to exercise or diet plans while I let my body relax and do it's thing. I learned to nap when baby napped. Drank lots of water. And I tried to soak up every minute I could because the first few months fly by!

After three months passed, I realized I needed to adjust my eating habits. I am a number-one failure at following diet plans; however a brilliant blogger, Kristen Marr, author of LiveSimply.me provided a kick-off point for me.

To explain real-food options, she quotes Nourished Kitchen: "In the simplest explanation...real food is...: 1) avoidance of modern, refined foods; 2) celebration of unrefined, whole and natural foods; 3) respecting the importance of nutrient-density in our food and 4) preparing and eating foods in the same manner that nourished our ancestors.... If your great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't put it in your mouth."

I decided to attempt a personalized version of this. I avoid refined grains, refined sugars, processed foods, or ingredients I didn't recognize and began to consume whole grains, low fat meats, all natural sugars, healthy oils, and fresh produce. For me, it wasn't a diet. It was a lifestyle change. Clean eating has helped reinvigorate my body, provide long term energy, and as a plus, it boosted my milk supply.

Exercise is equally important as diet for post partum recovery. Exercise doesn't always mean gym passes and yoga pants. Buy yourself a supportive sports bra and have some fun. You can use baby as a counter weight for squats (which also gives you an excuse to buy a beautiful carrier from MMB) and cuddle baby while you exercise.

Other ideas include walks around the block with baby, riding your bike with a safe baby attachment, or finding a local baby-and-me yoga class. Whatever you do, start small, go slow, and keep steady.

Another thing to keep in mind is what you wear. It is important to dress for yourself. Personally, I wasn't able to establish a wardrobe until I could accept the flab, thighs, and big boobs. Also, jeans were not an option for me post partum. I tried wearing them once, and five minutes out the door I realized BIG MISTAKE. I realized the best pieces were those that are versatile, make me happy, and are appropriate for life. My personal go-tos are leggings (Blanqi, Old Navy, Target), layered tops or dresses (HM, Target, Old Navy), and cardigans. I feel feminine, pretty, and confident while also hiding extra weight.

If you breastfeed, think ease of whipping out the boob in public without causing a mishap or discomfort. You will want a good, supportive nursing bra or tank to assist with this. I am a big fan of Cache Coeur bras doubled with overnight Bamboobies. They are comfortable and sexy all at once.

Clemmie Hooper, British blogger, midwife, and author of "How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out" has encouraged many women via Instagram to love and accept their post partum bodies. Like the title of her book: You GREW a baby. You PUSHED it out! Give yourself a break. You are a beautiful, uniue person. Tailor your recovery to your needs: dress for yourself, eat right, exercise appropriately, and most importantly, give yourself a moment to breathe. You've got this momma!

Anne Vanna is a blogger and mother of one. She lives and writes in Illinois. 

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