I can honestly admit that before I had a baby I was never very active. Going to the gym always seemed like such an ordeal and working out at home was so hard when three dogs were running around tripping me whenever I went into a squat. I struggled to keep myself away from the carbohydrates, sugars, and getting in at least a gallon of water a day seemed to be quite the dilemma of my day to day life. Somehow I would be able to lose weight, but looking back I realized it was in the most unhealthy way possible. Not only was I struggling with supplying my body with the nutrients it needed to function, but I was also dealing with an underlying eating disorder that depleted me of vitamins and nutrients I needed to survive.
So what was stopping me from becoming a healthier person? Excuses, mental anguish from years of being bullied, and of course the satisfaction that I could live this way and still manage to lose weight.
Well then I had a baby.
When you give birth to a baby your hormones like to play sneaky, little tricks on your homeostasis. Homeostasis, you ask? Well the biological definition is all the systems in your body working together to keep equilibrium. However when I think of this term I also like to think of the psychological effects that can deter your equilibrium. Your hormones, though produced by a system in your body, tend to effect you mentally- especially if you’re a girl, hello PMS. When you give birth to a baby there is a large level of progesterone that depletes itself rather quickly once the baby is born. This, in case anyone reading this still believes post partum depression to be a psychological disorder, is what causes Post Partum Depression. Your body is going through a large withdrawal of progesterone, and it really does not know what to do. The withdrawal of progesterone causes your mind to warp right into a state of depression that can sometimes last for the “two week blues” or a few months to years down the line. It’s normal and nothing to ever be ashamed of. You created and gave birth to a human being, you’re allowed to take however long you need to get your body back to a state of “normal”, whatever that may be
Now back to homeostasis. Apart from the mental and hormone aspect of post-baby syndrome, our bodies change in even more ways. Our hips can remain as wide as they were pre-birth, our periods could change in drastic ways, our sleeping patterns change, we become more in tune with another human than we ever thought possible, and it can become much harder to achieve, or maintain, a healthy weight.
When I was pregnant I gained a normal amount of weight, however, before little Luca was conceived I had managed to successfully lose and keep off 206lbs. However, much to my dismay, the scale would go up every few weeks at my pre-natal appointments. I would watch as all my hard work appeared to deteriorate before my eyes. I was gaining back the weight I had worked so hard to lose. It was then that I decided post birth I would workout routinely, eat better, and lose the weight, plus more, to be in the best shape ever. As I am writing this we can all tell that did not go according to plan.
I came home with my newborn elated but exhausted and felt like I was glued to the couch for the following few weeks. Cluster feeding, reflux issues, cows milk allergy/intolerance issues- there just wasn’t time to sleep. There was barely time to shower, brush my teeth, and eat. The pounds quickly melted off and before I knew it I was only 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I was ecstatic. Maybe my body had not betrayed me.
Cue in PostPartum Depression mixed with a baby that cried for six hours a night.
My weight fluctuated. I would lose five then gain back seven. Sugar became my best friend through coffees with syrups that just weren’t necessary, quick snacks to eat so I could naps before he woke. It became a long process of feeding my body what was easy rather than what it needed. And working out? What was that again? There just wasn’t any time.
Through his last ten months I got lectures on his sleeping habits, his eating habits, what I should be doing as his parents because somehow I wasn’t doing a good enough job for anyone. I was losing myself slowly, falling into the daily cycle of trying to get him to sleep, trying to get him to eat enough, trying not to hate this body that seemed to be growing instead of returning to its previous size. My days blended together and I felt as if I was about to lose it, but I had to keep it together because he needed me, and apart from all the opinions and sanctimonious parents- he was a damn good, well taken care of, happy baby. I had spend the last ten months abusing myself because I began to doubt not only my ability to be his mother, but my ability to find myself again.
So, though ten months later, I have found that I can not only be his mother, but I can also be the person I know I need to be. It’s okay for our lives not to revolve around our children 24/7. It is okay to remember that if we are not in the best mindset, we cannot properly care for our children. So take the time to workout, take the time to drink a proper cup of coffee, and if you need to take a nap with them in bed with you (the horror, I know) do what you need to do. They’re only this little for such a small amount of time, and one day this will seem like just another period of life. Soon you’ll blink and they’ll be less than 2 months away from turning a year, or entering their terrible twos, or a day I dread- the day they enter kindergarten. We do what we need to do to survive. We keep them safe, alive, and happy- we deserve to not forget that we are human and sometimes we just need five minutes.
My advice to new moms:
Sleep when they sleep- I hated people telling me this when I was pregnant. How could I sleep when he slept? When would I shower, eat, do anything else that didn’t involve my newborn? It’s okay to not shower for a day or two (trust me you’ll blink and question when you’ve taken one last. Have you seen that episode of Jane the Virgin? When they try to trick her into taking a shower? No? Well go watch it. Season 2, episode 2).
Get a baby carrier- I love my baby carrier. I had an exceptionally clingy baby and when he would get this way I would put him in a carrier or wrap and wear him around the house. He would fall asleep almost instantly (especially as a newborn), or would coo inside and snuggle against my chest.
I had this one: https://www.lillebaby.com/baby-carriers/completetm/complete-all-seasons/lillebabyr-completetm-all-seasons-feathers.html
And this one: https://mobywrap.com
Honestly Moby Wrap makes an AWESOME new half carrier, half wrap. So next baby.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself- I did. I lost myself completely when I had a baby. I rarely went out, rarely did anything. Take some time to workout, drink coffee, talk on the phone. If you don’t have a significant other around see if you can have someone come over for a bit and watch baby even for as little as an hour. A happy and healthy mama is always best for baby. We do what we can, we survive how we need to.
Don’t say “I would never do that…”- Pre- baby I would always say I’d never do what other moms do. I’d silently pass judgement thinking I was much better because I would never do something with my child. Hell, I swore I’d never give my son a pacifier (cue night two of life when he wouldn’t calm unless sucking). You never know what will happen.
Moms, it’s time to give ourselves a break. We brought these beautiful humans into this world, gave them our bodies for long nine months, and went through a ton of pain to give them life. We deserve to give ourselves a break.
ALSO- I found a fantastic workout group that does workouts while wearing babies!