The post baby body…

Now Bea is 12 months old I finally feel in a position to comment on my body. And honestly, it’s still changing, but I feel I can write this from a position of reasonable experience and with a realistic outlook. Before I start, please don’t anyone take any of this as a reflection or judgement on their body or decisions regarding it. This is purely my own personal experience and not meant to make anyone else scrutinise themselves, mother or not.

When I became pregnant, I was 10 and a half stone. To put that into context I’m about 5ft 7inches. It was the heaviest I have ever been and ironically I feel I got there because I was planning to get pregnant. My state of mind about starting a family was so messed up on reflection that I was constantly refusing to deny myself anything… if I had a pound for all the times I ordered something less than healthy or thought ‘to hell with it, I’ll have another drink…‘ because I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat/drink it during pregnancy, I’d be treating myself to something very fancy. I’d say my ‘happy weight’ i.e. the place where I feel good in my clothes but don’t have to really do much to maintain my weight is around 10 stone or just under, so I was at least half a stone heavier than I should be.

I weighed myself obsessively in pregnancy – not out of any concern for what I gained – I always assumed I’d get it off afterwards, but because I was fascinated by how much my body was changing. I won’t say I wasn’t keeping an eye on things, but I was eating everything in sight and so I made a mental note that if my weight ballooned I’d have to start being a bit more healthy. However, normal and healthy weight gain in pregnancy is 1 and a half to 2 and a half stone and watching my weight creep slowly up I never felt the need to cut back. In the end I gained exactly 2 stone, weighing in at 12 and a half stone the morning of my C-section. And I felt like a Goddess – I honestly can’t stress that enough. I LOVED my pregnant body.

You know how everyone tells stories about how they lost ‘a stone in the 24 hours after delivery,‘? Well, I had high hopes. I had a 6 and a half pound bundle, and had shed a placenta, a load of amniotic fluid and a bit of blood… I couldn’t wait to get on those scales with morbid fascination! Imagine my surprise when I had lost a measly 6 pounds! My flipping baby was heavier than that!


Of course, I didn’t care. My ‘baby bump’ took at least 3 weeks to subside and I accepted that it can take a bit longer post c-section. And in fact for many weeks or months afterwards my tummy was round and quite solid. It slowly started to settle but it was at a snails pace. I was (and still am,) breastfeeding but to say that breastfeeding makes you lose weight is the biggest myth in town… I’m sure it does, but if you’re eating for England, nothing can help you! – I took my milk production very seriously and after an astonishing conversation with a midwife early on who clearly thought I was trying to get my figure back at 10 days in when Bea was weighed and hadn’t gained anything, I was told to eat 3 square meals a day with pudding and snacks and to take food to bed too for the night feeds! And I did. Granted I didn’t gain any weight, but I think the breastfeeding mother typically loses weight because of being pinned under a constantly feeding baby and neglecting her own needs – I’m grateful to say that wasn’t me, I was well looked after by Pete – far too well! 😉

As the months went on my weight plateaued then would drop a fraction, then plateau again. Sometimes it bothered me, but on the whole I really didn’t care. I wasn’t desperately concerned with staring in the mirror before I had Bea, and afterward, well, I spent all my time just staring at her instead. When it did bother me I set myself targets, saying ‘I’ll start exercising at 6 months,‘ which became 9 months and ‘next month’. In truth, looking back, I just didn’t want to at all. My head wasn’t in a space that prioritised me or my needs and wants and rather than resenting or regretting that, I just didn’t even think about it. I’m not going to lie though, it was tough walking round in a bikini on holiday before she was even 4 months old.

Reading this back, I just realised I’ve talked almost exclusively about my weight, rather than my shape. That’s partly because its only recently as my weight has gone down a little bit more again that I’ve started to dislike what I see more. I’m still breastfeeding, so my boobs aren’t what they were, but they aren’t totally deflated yet either. 😉 Honestly, I don’t really care about them. It did take a whole new perspective when I finally went bra shopping as the shapes and styles I’d normally reach for weren’t working for me at all, but I can’t complain.

I think the part of me that has changed the most is my stomach. It’s the area I have always gained weight in but this is different, I really feel that no matter what I do now, the skin isn’t going to recover its elasticity and go smooth again. A lot of people complain about C-section scars causing a ‘pouch’ of skin, but I don’t think it’s anything to do with that, the skin just stretched so much it can’t recover. I hope I find I’m wrong but I guess it’s just reality that skin that was so stretched won’t be the same afterwards. That said, everybody is different! One positive is that I did get stretch marks when I was pregnant… quite a lot of them and early on – I remember being quite devastated when one appeared at 35 weeks and I still thought I had 7 weeks to go! They were all under my bump but I’m pleased to report that like the ones I got in my teens they are all invisible now unless you scrutinise my skin. So that’s a plus! What bugs me is when you can see that skin and roll of fat through my clothes. Not pretty and really motivating me now to work on getting my shape back.

As I write, with Bea approaching 13 months I’m 5lbs heavier than I was at conception, having done absolutely nothing to shift any weight. I’ve finally had a change of mindset and feel ready to make a concerted effort to get back into shape and work on my waistline, but I’ll save that for another post.

Right now I’d love to hear your thoughts on your body post baby – what has changed and how do you feel about it?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
What I thought about post-baby bodies before I had a baby…

34 – 38 weeks…

I can’t quite believe that I am writing the conclusion post to my pregnancy diary. Back in November when we found out I was pregnant, the end of July seemed very far off indeed but it has completely flown past. I’m sure this is in part due to the non-stop pace we set ourselves on doing the house renovations. Since moving out of our bedroom in December, we have completed the bedroom, dressing room, kitchen, outside deck, ‘face lifted’ the dining room, one of our attic bedrooms and most recently, the nursery. It has been exhausting, but it has certainly kept my mind off being pregnant, which at the time didn’t bother me, but now I look back and feel I should have savoured it more – I certainly should have taken more time out to relax and spoil myself – I haven’t even had time to do pregnancy yoga but I’m making up for it now with full on baby-focus now I’m on maternity leave.

This part of my pregnancy has definitely been the hardest, physically, although it’s pretty much all self inflicted. I’m still well and not that uncomfortable although I have been feeling very ‘full’ particularly when I’m sitting down so finishing work at 37 weeks was a good decision. The bump certainly hasn’t ‘dropped’ (but more on that in a minute…) I had been debating up until a week or so before whether to keep going as I’m not really tired, but because I postponed everything until my mat leave, I was definitely in need of the baby time. My back has been my main pregnancy gripe and anything involving lifting or using my back much is giving me pretty bad pain and stiffness. All this lead to Pete reading me the riot act after moving some furniture myself last week and then having to stop about 6 times on a short walk of less than 10 minutes. I’ve been on strict R&R since and have felt so much better for it. I think I needed permission to slow down!

The last week hasn’t been without it’s stresses though. At my 36 week antenatal appointment they booked me for a presentation scan as there was some concern baby Norris was not playing ball and might be the wrong way up. Sure enough on scan day last Tuesday, the hard round lump I had been feeling in my ribs for weeks and weeks is in fact a head and baby is breech. Cue some soul searching and the choice whether to have an ECV (where they try to turn the baby,) or book an elective caesarean section. I won’t go into my reasons here as it’s a very personal choice and one I’m still not happy about, but I have chosen not to have an ECV and so now I’m booked for a Caesarean. (On an evidence based medical level though I will say, the chance of success would have been very poor, maybe 30%)

So, after all my thoughts on how to prepare for labour, (not that I had actually made much progress on doing the required reading,) and deciding I wanted a natural, hopefully drug-free delivery (although I’m not silly enough to say that without an open mind for when the time came, having never been in that position before,) I’m now getting the works; spinal anaesthetic, all the drugs and the bit I am most upset about, the recovery period afterwards. I was so looking forward to being active again and able to do things around the house. There are no guarantees in life so I’m just trying to remind myself that I could have had an ECV, then a horrible labour, wanted all the drugs and then ended up with a section after all, who knows, but I still feel upset about the way things are turning out. I know it’s silly but I feel like I have meddled with fate by choosing babies birthday, I feel a bit disappointed that I (and Pete) won’t have that birth experience and honestly I’m terrified of being a patient rather than the one performing the caesarean as I have in the past. It feels clinical and I can hardly believe that I will wake up one morning, go to hospital and have baby taken out of me, instead of doing it myself. And the poor baby is going to get the shock of it’s life going from where it is perfectly happy to being yanked out into the bright cold world without any warning. However, I know this is infinitely safer than a vaginal breech delivery (at least for a first baby,) so I am also reminding myself to be grateful that there is a safe way to delivery this baby for both of us, which is ultimately all that matters. And for whatever reason, this baby is very happy being one of the 3 in 100 babies that are breech at term as it has been in this position for a long time and has shown no signs of budging. I just wish I had known sooner.

So now I’ve also lost a week of my maternity leave and the last week has been spent flapping about like a headless chicken trying to get things done and bought. As a result it has been very productive but a bit panic inducing too. I feel like I would have felt more mentally prepared if I had had to go through the process of labour, instead of what feels like going to pick up the baby via click and collect. The reality of having a baby now has a date on it. Life changes then. All the old questions of ‘Am I ready’ and ‘How will we still make time for each other and our life,’ have resurfaced, but now I also find myself stroking this little head as it bobs with hiccups or shifts position and feeling increasingly maternal and protective towards this little thing we created.

I can’t wait to hold this baby, take it home and introduce it to our families. I can’t wait to see who he or she resembles, if baby has my dark hair or is blonde as Pete was as a child. But the finality of having a definite date is also terrifying.

So readers, have any of you had a caesarean? How did you find it? And did any of you get pre-baby jitters like me? Now more than ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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