“Oh, you’ll bounce back in no time,” “You’re fit, you’ll bounce right back!”
I heard these two statement very regularly during my first pregnancy when I worked full-time at an all women’s fitness club. And, after that I vowed to NEVER say that to a pregnant woman again, EVER!
Everyone is different. Every single pregnancy is different. And, although I understand that there are some woman who truly do look as though they’ve “bounced back” after just a few short weeks from giving birth….that wasn’t ME! And, I knew it wouldn’t be.
I am not naturally thin, I haven’t been an athlete my whole life and certainly didn’t come from good genes. I’ve always had to work hard at staying fit and after gaining a whopping 60lbs during my pregnancy….NO, that is NOT a typo. Yes, SIX. ZERO! Sixty pounds NOT sixteen…60! I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I certainly wasn’t going to just bounce back. There IS NO bouncing back from that, ha!
With that being said, I felt so much pressure to make it happen. I mean, I was a fitness professional. I worked in a fitness facility full-time…people were expecting me to BOUNCE BACK! I know they were because I heard it all the time. I heard it from members, co-workers, friends and family. Everyone was telling me that I would, so I had to, right? I felt this overwhelming need or responsibility to be some sort of crazy role model for pregnant woman everywhere.
I’ll never forget the time a fellow spin instructor told me that she was “back in the saddle cycling” just THREE days after giving birth! Like, WHAT?! Three days? Who the hell is thinking about spinning and sitting on that, oh! so uncomfortable seat the minute they arrive home from the hospital? I mean, to each its own and more power to her but certainly not me. But these were the types of stories I would hear quite frequently. So, of course I jumped right back in the “saddle” just 3 weeks after with at-home workouts and mommy & me classes. I started teaching my regular classes 6 weeks post-baby and was subbing extra classes any chance I got. At one point, teaching up to 3 spin classes in one day. And that was on top of training hard at the gym and tracking all of my calories. I weighed myself every morning and every night. Everything I did was focused around my weight loss. I needed to lose the weight! FAST! I needed to bounce back.
In fact, I often wondered and worried about whether people were judging me. Were they shocked that as a fitness professional, someone who loves to workout and pretty much does so for a living that I hadn’t bounced back yet? Were they disappointed in me? I mean, it did take me a whole 5 months to get back to my pre-baby weight (gasp!). Of course, I realize now that, that is such a short time frame but at the time, it felt like FOR-EVER. I mean, that clearly wasn’t what all these women meant by “bouncing back” right? Or was it? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, during a time that should be cherished not rushed. I look back and feel sad that I literally have no pictures with my very first, newborn son. Why? Because I didn’t like the way I looked. I hated my very real post-baby body. I was big and swollen and didn’t look like myself and hated the way I looked in pictures. I wanted only amazing pics of my normal fit self holding my newborn baby and wasn’t happy until I started losing the weight and looking more like that person again.
What I do know is that I will never tell another mama-to-be that she will just “bounce back.” Maybe she will. Maybe she won’t. But it should be the last thing she worries about in those first few months at home with her very new baby.
Don’t misunderstand, I think it’s important to get your body moving again after baby. And there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to get back into the swing of things once you get clearance from your physician, I can totally relate. Working out is important to me and makes me feel better on so many levels and just being able to do so was a big part of feeling like myself again after baby. But no one should ever feel pressured to do so. Or pressured to lose the weight and look a certain way after putting your body through the toughest thing it will ever do.
There are way too many other things on our plates to worry about, you know, like taking care of that beautiful new baby, getting back to work, trying to sleep or function without it, remembering to eat and wash your hair, the list goes on…
So, I will never tell another expecting mama that she will just bounce back but what I will say is, “It’s a process. Muscle memory is a beautiful thing and that you CAN and WILL feel great again.”
With much fitness love,
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