“How long will it take for me to get back?” Asked my patient. “Uhhhhh get back to what?” I replied. “You know…get back to where I was before I had my baby. It’s been 6 weeks already and I still look pregnant.” I glanced at my patient and thought to myself what is the rush to getting our pre-baby body back?
So where did this whole term “SnapBack” come from? We see celebrities who have their babies and show a postpartum picture 3 days later with a body ready for Miami Beach.
The journey of pregnancy is a beautiful one and it changes you…forever. Emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually and especially physically. Every organ in our amazing bodies adapt to prepare to grow a tiny human. Your cardiac output increases 30- 50% above baseline, your resting heart rate increases, your diaphragm rises by up to 4 cm, red blood cell mass increases 30-40% above non pregnant levels, your kidneys increase in length and volume and the amount your kidney filters increases. Some of these changes literally begin within one month of conception! Literally, your entire body starts to change before you even find out you’re pregnant.
I am very guilty of this. I too have strived to get my pre baby body back within mere weeks after having a C-section. The body before I had extra fat around my mid-section.
Before the wrinkled skin on my abdomen. Before my abs were hidden under a bed of adipose tissue. Before my thick C-section scar. The body before the stretch marks that line my thighs.
About 2 weeks after delivering Savannah Feb 2019.
I loved when people would say, “girl you snapped back after your baby.” “The SnapBack is real!” I say it to my friends as well. I only gained 15 pounds during my first pregnancy and about 17 pounds with the second. Recommended weight gain during pregnancy is 25-35 pounds when starting at a normal weight. And I indeed lost the weight and even got back to my pre baby weight within weeks of both pregnancies. But something was different. With clothes on, I looked the same. Things fit the same.
Three weeks after delivering Savannah Feb 2019.
But unclothed and bare I faced the naked truth. Literally. I looked at my body and realized even with the weight loss I still had so many changes in my body. The skin around my belly button was looser. There were stripes along the sides of my thighs. I had a section of fat above my scar that wouldn’t seem to go away. I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to accept these permanent changes. I wanted the old me back.
10 days after my C-section with first baby, Timothy March 31, 2016.
I wanted to throw on a bathing suit and feel confident again. I wanted the abs that were covered by fat to show their hiding faces again. I had done CrossFit prior to both pregnancies. I was active. Why couldn’t I get back to where I was?! Why? And I had to realize that this permanently changed body carried my two biggest blessings who have permanently changed my life. I realized it was almost selfish of me to want to go back to what I was before children. I will never be who I was prior to March 21, 2016.
So I tell you as much as I am telling myself; wear your stretch marks, your scars, the loose skin, the extra fat with pride. Pride that for 10 months you were the keeper of a miniature blessing. There is nothing quite comparable to becoming a mother. To first finding out you are pregnant, to feeling the first flutters that turn into routine 3am kicks, and then finally meeting these sweet human face to face. To know that your child knows what your heart sounds like from the inside and from the outside. Pregnancy is 10 months so why do we rush after we have babies to get back to our pre-baby selves?
And after you have the baby allow yourself time. Allow yourself grace. Some people lose their weight in a few weeks, others a few months and for some it takes much, much longer. Do not allow societal norms and pressures of postpartum bodies force you to into an unrealistic timeline of your pre-baby body.
As I look down at my belly that housed my two blessings I know a lot has changed. There is more fat covering where my abs once lived. My skin is not as tight. There are wrinkles around my belly button from the stretching from my first two pregnancies.
I am getting back into shape. I have a personal trainer. My eating is not what it always should be. Sometimes I practice portion control and make healthy food choices. Other times, I have tacos and margaritas. It’s called balance. Still my body is not like it was. And it will never be. And that’s ok. Right now, my focus is on being healthy. I do believe with hard work I can feel and look even better than I did before but I refuse to let society tell me how I should look after two C sections. I am different now. I am a mother.