Our post-baby body is something a lot of us obsess over. But we shouldn’t.
It’s 7:47 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I’m hustling to get a spot in my very popular 8 a.m. step class. The usual crowd is made up of mostly women in their mid- to late-30s through to their early 50s. However, this morning I find myself striding through the doors of my upscale suburban gym behind two young, first-time mums. Here’s what I overhear:
“You look amazing. You’re so thin,” says Mum #1 to Mum #2. Both are carrying very adorable children under a year old.
Mum #2 grimaces. “Oh, no. I’m still a few pounds heavier than I was before Charlie.”
I look at this woman. She is, without question, thin. As a body conscious mum of three, life-long exerciser and current Jawbone UP addict, I think I’m a decent judge on this score.
"Yeah, I know what you mean," says Mum #1. "I still can't run as many kilometers as I used to before Chloe and it's so hard to keep the weight off. I just don't want to give up my wine."
You go girl. Do not give up the wine. Meanwhile, this woman is even skinnier than her friend.
I get it. After the initial shock of bringing home baby fades and you've settled into the whole motherhood thing, you turn your laser beam to focus on "getting your body back." Somehow, even though we know that life will never be the same, we expect our bodies to be.
I watch the women head towards childcare, knowing exactly how they feel. Here's what I want to tell them:
1. You will never look the same again.
Your body has changed. Forever. Even if you get back to your pre-baby weight, those pounds will be in all kinds of different places. The terrain has shifted and stretched, drooped in the most inconvenient spots and plumped up in others. For me, some bits feel worse than others: the way the bottom of my bum hangs out of my bathing suit; the new fold of skin at my knees from carrying all that extra weight for nine months (times three); my sagging belly button. Other parts emerge more beautiful than they were before: the curve of a hip; more pronounced cheekbones; lush, hormone-infused hair.
2. Your body will not function like it once did.
Not only is the way your body looks irrevocably changed, but the way it works is too. I probably won't ever be able to run five kilometers again without feeling that painful tweak in my right hip. A totally flat belly may be a thing of the past, no matter how many reverse curls I do in a day. I can't do jumping jacks without squirting pee. Holding plank without pooching out my belly or hunching up my shoulders is forever a goal. Two and a half years after my third daughter arrived, I'm still figuring out what works and trying to let go of what doesn't.