“When are you due?” “Are you having a boy or a girl?”
Split-second decision. Do you answer:
a.) Actually, I’m having twins!
b.) I’m not pregnant.
c.) I just had a baby a few months ago. And I still haven’t lost all the weight yet. Thanks for ruining my day!
I have a suspicion that I’m not the only one who has been on the receiving end of this awkward conversation. I recently had my 4th baby. The third in three years. (You can read more about that in my Confessions of a Mom With 3 Under the Age of 3 post.) So you can imagine that my body hasn’t quite “bounced back” yet.
When I’m pregnant most of my weight goes straight to my belly. Which means I get huge, but everything else looks about the same. While that sounds great, it also means that I still look pregnant for several months afterward…hence the above conversation. And I haven’t quite decided how to respond when I get those questions. Every time it happens it catches me off guard. Usually because it most often happens with complete strangers. Sometimes they’re well-meaning, and sometimes they’re just nosy. I, for the record, never ask someone if they’re expecting unless it looks like they’re going to deliver any day now. And even then I usually wait for them to bring it up…better to be safe than sorry! 😉
Can you relate? Maybe you just had a baby. A few weeks or a few months ago. Or maybe it’s been a couple of years and you’re still working on getting in shape. Or maybe you’ve been working out and you still have a bit of a pooch. From one still-pregnant-looking mama to another, here are a few things I’m learning along the way…
Don’t get discouraged.
I’m talking to myself here as much as I’m talking to you, because this IS a tough one. We all know what a beautiful thing it is to have a child grow inside you and to bring new life into the world. After a couple of years of secondary infertility and a miscarriage, I am incredibly grateful to have been able to have more children. I wouldn’t trade a “perfect” body for any of my children. At the same time, it can be challenging to accept your “new” body, especially if it’s taking quite a long time for you to lose the weight you’ve gained. After my first child the weight came off on it’s own. I’m discovering that I’m having to work my tail off this time around and it’s still taking a long time…which is frustrating. But every time I look at my sweet babes, I know that it’s worth it. Do a little something for yourself that makes you feel good, like getting your hair done, getting a pedicure, buying some clothes that actually fit and flatter where you are right now. These things might seem small, but they go a long way in making you feel better about yourself and keeping you motivated!
We all hopefully know that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to celebrities posing on the cover of a magazine 2 months after having their baby, looking all thin and gorgeous. Photoshop, duh. But do you find yourself comparing yourself to your friend who rocked her pre-pregnancy jeans at 2 months postpartum? Or your neighbor who looks like she never had a baby in the first place?! News Flash: those mamas have plenty of things they don’t love about their bodies too…it’s the human condition. And if you’ve ever been jealous of the skinny moms, I highly suggest you read this awesome post by my co-founder, Sara. In it she shares what it’s really like to be the skinny girl in the room, and I bet her thoughts would surprise you.
It can be tempting to say “my body isn’t changing” or “the weight’s just never going to come off” and go eat a package of Oreo’s in defeat. But the truth is you can do it. Find a great exercise program that you actually enjoy doing…whether it’s a class at the gym or rec center, or one you can do at home. If you need some suggestions, consider joining our ICMB Fit Mamas Facebook group. Take a before photo and record your measurements. Repeat every few weeks so you can see a difference in your body beyond the scale. Find an accountability partner…someone who has similar goals who you can check-in with daily and who will encourage you. Remember that it took time to put the weight on and it takes time to healthily lose it.
And finally, be sure to check yourself for diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is a separation of your abdominal muscles that is often caused by pregnancy. A lot of people have a slight gap, but if yours is 2-2.5 finger-widths or more it can definitely create a bulge and could be the reason you still look pregnant. (I have one that is a little over 3 finger-widths wide, not surprising after back-to-back pregnancies.) Here are some directions on how to test for diastasis recti.
If you discover you have diastasis recti, be sure to talk with your doctor. He or she may have some suggestions for exercises to do. If you google “diastasis recti exercises” you will find several programs. The most important thing to take note of is that to heal the separation you have to strengthen the transverse abs. Ironically, doing traditional ab exercises like crunches, planks, burpees, etc. can actually make your separation worse. Once you close the gap you can go back to doing these exercises. A last-resort option is surgery. But I highly recommend trying to close the gap through exercise first. I’ve had a couple friends do the surgery and it requires several weeks of healing time, during which you can’t stand up fully straight or lift. So if you have an infant you would want to wait to pursue this option until your youngest is older and/or you have someone to help lift or hold him or her.
Do you have suggestions for how to deal with the unwanted question of “When are you due?” Please share!