Body After Babies

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “body after babies”?

I’m sure, for many of us, tabloid covers with celebrities come to mind. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we think of those well-meaning family and friends who informed us that NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME.

This may be true, to a certain extent. But it’s unfair to ourselves to allow that belief to make us throw up our hands in despair of ever feeling “ourselves” again, and living healthy, active lives.

It’s really a little ironic, since our bodies just did the most amazing thing ever…producing  human beings. Let’s not sell them short — we still have a LOT of life to live after those kids arrive.

 

Having finished the having-babies/recovering-from-having-babies phase of my life, I’ve gained a little perspective. Hopefully my experiences can be helpful to you!

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional, personal trainer, or nutritionist. I’ve just experimented with several ways to take care of my body, and want to share what I’ve learned!

 

Background: I danced my whole life, so was in pretty great shape when I got pregnant. I’ve had two babies and, with each one, a different approach to getting my body “back”. For this post, my kiddos will be referred to as “Baby #1 and Baby #2”.

Pregnancy Prep:

Baby #1:
  • A couple years out of college (during which I was a ballet major, super active)
  • Still teaching dance. Also working as a server (possibly more of a workout than teaching dance!)
Baby #2:
  • Pregnant when Baby #1 was not quite two years old
  • Had lost all the pregnancy weight, and then some (more on that in a minute)
  • No longer working full time, but still teaching dance part time

Activity Level During Pregnancy:

Baby #1:
  • Very active. TOO active. Too much stress.
  • Quit my full time restaurant job earlier than planned, after being “threatened” with bedrest by my doctor
  • Continued to teach dance up until a few days before baby was born
Baby #2:
  • Workouts included teaching dance part time and chasing a toddler 24/7
  • We had a lot of other things happening in our lives during this pregnancy, so I’m not sure I gave fitness much brain space at all

The Stats:

 
Baby #1:
  • Gained 50-60 lbs
  • Went into labor a week before scheduled C-section
  • Delivered at 6 lbs, 10 oz
  • Healthy baby! 🙂
  • Nursed for over a year
  • Lost all the weight
Baby #2:
  • Gained 50-60 lbs
  • Again, went into labor about a week before scheduled
  • Delivered at 9 lbs even
  • Healthy baby! 🙂
  • Nursed over a year
  • Lost all the weight
To avoid making this impossible to read, I’m just going to give you a rundown of diet and exercise methods that have been helpful to me. Note: these were not implemented all at once, nor did I use any ONE of them throughout this whole recovery time period. Consistency is NOT my middle name.
Strategies for Body After Babies

Recovering From Pregnancy –  What Has Worked For Me:

Exercise

  • Insanitythis program is TOUGH, particularly if you’re carrying extra weight. It it, however, very effective. It can also be done at HOME, which was a huge blessing for me and our high-needs baby.

Since that time, several fitness centers have started offering Insanity group classes, which is an awesome option as well! The community aspect of a group fitness can be SO helpful with motivation!

  • Running – At roughly 6 months PP, I started running. I completed the Couch to 5k app program (which I highly recommend!), and eventually ran a half marathon. My advice for that event is to sign up with people twice your age. Super motivating to try and keep up with them, ha!
  • Weight Training (this is the part where I get really excited!) After Baby #2, I took a completely different approach. You see….Pinterest had come on the scene. So during those last, whale-like months of pregnancy, I sat on the couch, researching different ways to get in shape. (Gotta love the irony there.) Obviously, after years of ballet, I understood the value of strength training. However, I had NEVER tried mainstream weight training.
 I started with bodyweight exercises, and gradually worked up to whatever weight I could manage with our adjustable dumbbells (still working out at home). My husband taught me how to train my arms–about which I had been totally clueless–and I was in love!

 

Not with training arms. I still hate that. But I do love weight training!

 

  • HIIT – You’ve probably seen that acronym at least one other place. It stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Another one of my Pregnancy Pinterest Phase finds. You can learn more about it here, but in a nutshell, it’s time-efficient and super effective.

I started incorporating alternating intervals of high intensity cardio with my strength exercises, and that was when I really began to see results.

Aside from my own physical benefit, experimenting in these areas also contributed to my shift in career path!

**This list is purely things I did in the year(s) after having a baby. I’ll talk about my current routine in another post, but some of these methods remain on the schedule!**

On to…DIET (Dun dun DUUNNN….)

Such a pain. So necessary.

Now, when I’m talking about diet, I’m not referring to a quick-fix, eat ONLY this for 2 weeks program, or an extreme calorie restriction. All I’m talking about is food choices, and ways I’ve found to make better ones.
  • Give yourself time – For the first several weeks post partum, I ate EVERYTHING.  Anyone else absolutely ravenous during that time? It seemed to be a combination of recovery, nursing, and all-out exhaustion!

**NOTE:  my official recommendation is to TAKE IT EASY at first, especially after a C-section, and give yourself grace.**

  • Elimination Diet – Due to an extremely fussy baby who wouldn’t sleep, I experimented with cutting out dairy products. We thought possibly she had an allergy or sensitivity that was contributing to the problem. As anyone who’s done an elimination diet could tell you, losing dairy means losing MANY sweets. At least the good ones. Not fun, but pretty darn effective.
  • Smoothies – these are still a love of mine. I’m not talking about something crazy from Smoothie King. I mean green smoothies. I’ve put all KINDS of things in them, from spinach to kale to chia seeds to plant-based protein (oh my goodness, never again) to every kind of fruit. They’re awesome.

Main tip? Don’t over-complicate it. These days, mine are spinach and some kind of frozen fruit. BAM. Done.

Other than that…make sure you’re hydrating like crazy, and listening to your body in terms of eating ENOUGH. These are especially important if you’re nursing!

What methods have YOU used to care for your mom body?  I’d love to hear your tips!

 

Recommended Reading:

Why the Green Smoothie is My Best Friend

Christian Music Workout Playlist

Ballet to Group Fitness

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16 Replies to “Body After Babies”

  1. I added yoga to running and swimming. I like that. I also try to limit processed carbs – it’s my weakness – so I sub a carb for a veggie at least once a day and avoid seconds on this stuff. I haven’t lost my pre-prego weight and my youngest is now 7, but I’m happy to keep moving.

    1. I definitely think setting some guidelines like that for yourself is helpful! And the top goal is active and healthy – regardless of weight.

  2. I had 3 babies in 4 years and my youngest is not even 2 yet. I’ve tried so many things to get my body back to what it used to be. I’m finding good nutrition and some good cardio and weight training are making a huge difference. Nutrition is so key though!

    I think my biggest struggle has been keeping a healthy mind set about it all.

  3. I enjoyed working out to pilates after my first three then did pilates and cross fit after my 4th. Let me just say my body did not handle the cross fit and pilates well the 4th time around. I ended up with diastisis recti (split abs) and have been working my way back from that ever since. My younger body was much more able to jump back into shape, not that my older body couldn’t but I was unaware that crunches were not the best thing to be doing to aide in it’s reshaping.

    1. Oooh yes. Diastasis Recti. I ended up with a more mild case (unlike some women I know, who’ve required surgery!), but it can be a challenge to deal with. Absolutely agree that typical abdominal workouts don’t work for that. They can actually do more harm than good! Go you, working with your body after 4 babies!!!

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