The last of a three part series exploring a very simple question, "are you pregnant?" which was asked of me several times in the last few months and why a question like this is so harmful. If you didn't catch part 1 or part 2, go back and check them out. This las section will layer on some of what I discussed in part 2 about the postpartum body. The postpartum body is just that, its our body after baby, not our body before baby and assuming folks should be able to get back there is a disservice to every ne parent out there...
So in my last post I talked about the undertone of questions like "are you pregnant?" being that its not okay for the postpartum body to not return to how it looked like prior to pregnancy. And how absolutely ridiculous and harmful that idea is. Let's unpack that for a bit.
Now even if you pick up a regular exercise routine postpartum, starting building back core strength and get back to or even surpass your strength or ability prior to baby, it in no way means that your body will look the same as it did pre-baby (and seriously, why the heck does it need to be?). Bellies in particular, undergo a huge amount of change during our pregnancy--they grow and stretch to make a home for your little one and chances are they won't return to exactly the same shape they were before.
Skin stretches which can leave stretch marks and sagging skin, belly fat increases due to pregnancy weight gain and hormones that sometimes doesn't go away despite our fitness and underlying functional issues like diastasis recti (more on that here) can impact abdominal functioning but also how the belly looks as well.
While I 100% don't advocate exercise postpartum for weight loss, I do advocate yoga and exercise to help manage stress, address sleeplessness, the aches and pains of postpartum and rebuilding a healthy core. A healthy core can help support us as we carry and maneuver a growing baby, longing support to overtaxed back muscles and also ensuring we heal abdominal separation to help mitigate larger issues like herniation. With all that in mind, you can build a completely strong and healthy core and it will still never look the same as it did pre-pregnancy.
For example, I exercise 4-5 days a week, teach 6 yoga class regularly each week and have done yoga and pilates to help rebuild my core. In fact, I would say my core is stronger than it was prior to my pregnancy. The thing is? I still have a belly pooch, it doesn't go away, but my core is strong and supporting me and so this is my new normal. It is function over form all the way so ignore all that advertising about losing your belly pooch and dropping those baby pounds.
Do you feel healthy? Are you living relatively pain free? Are you happy most of the time? That's what matters. Anybody who tells you that you need your pre-baby body to feel that way has no business talking to you in the first place.
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.