Having a baby is hard. It is hard on your body. You might think that pregnancy was hard. But in my experience, postpartum is even tougher, and is not always talked about enough. Getting to accept you ‘new’ mom-bod, takes some courage. I went through postpartum pre-eclampsia and had an umbilical hernia repair. My belly button does not look the same anymore. There is barely a belly button left. And then there’s the stretch marks… Those don’t magically disappear. There is now more skin/fat in areas I didn’t even know I could have skin/fat in. So what did I do to get back in shape and get to a place of acceptance of my new mom-bod?
I did Birth-Fit with a lady named Kristin. She was amazing! She had her own workout studio behind her house, and was doing one-on-one sessions with newly postpartum women. She worked on helping me recover from the ab separation that can happen as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. She helped me strengthen and stretch the muscles that got strained during childbirth. I worked with her right from the beginning of my postpartum period. There was no need to wait, as this form of exercise is so gentle that you do not necessarily need the medical clearance from your provider. We also always did a quick meditation at the end, and this really made me calm and helped me to accept my ‘new’ body, as the meditation was geared toward accepting your strong body that just birthed your baby. This was the first step toward getting back in shape.
I walked a LOT. Walking is the easiest, low-impact, best cardio activity you can do for your body. You can loose some weight just by walking at least 60 minutes every day. Walking helped me, especially in the first few months postpartum. My baby would just fall asleep during a walk, so it gave me some peace and quiet to calmly collect my thoughts together, and to realize that this was time JUST for me, to focus on me, and do something that is good for my body, and that will help my body getting back in shape. My favorite places in Memphis to walk are:
- Shelby Farms Park
- Wolf River Greenway
- Overton Park & the Memphis Zoo
- Audubon Park
- Crosstown (indoor walking!)
- Collierville Greenbelt (board walk by the Peterson nature center)
Fit4Mom is an organization that focuses on fitness for pre and postnatal health for every stage of motherhood. Their motto is “Strength in Motherhood,” and they are not just a place where you come to workout, they also create a village for you of other moms who come around you and support you in any way they can. When I had my umbilical hernia repair surgery, the village of moms came to bring me meals, and supported me tremendously in tangible ways. Whenever someone is going through something really tough, the village is there to help out! The workouts and the community of Fit4Mom have helped me gain friendships, create a positive body image for myself, and helped me gain confidence in motherhood. I am currently going to the Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre classes. You can bring your baby, and there is lots of fun for them, too! There are bubbles, songs, and learning for the kids, while you work out hard in the 4 to 5 stations of work they have planned for you. The stations consist out of cardio and strength moves, and you end with stretching. They have helped me create a positive body image because everyone there is non-judgemental, and I know that when I have completed a workout, I have done something positive for my body, and that helps me feel more positive about myself. I know that this is another step toward getting back in shape.
4. Gym membership
The last suggestion I have is to become a member at a local gym. There are many different options. When I was newly postpartum (before the pandemic), we used to go to the Memphis Kroc Center. I loved their group fitness selection! There was something for everyone. One of my favorite things to do is to find new exercise classes. I found a lot of classes there that I had never done before, and they helped me gain confidence. Some of the classes I found were cardio kickboxing, Barre, and aerial yoga. Once I completed a class, I would feel really good about having accomplished that specific workout, and I knew that what I did was good for my body and was getting me back in shape.
While I am still not perfect in accepting my new “mom-bod”, I am slowly getting there. I am using all of the exercise resources I listed to help me get to full acceptance of who I am now, after having a baby, and what my body looks like now. Just remember, you birthed a baby, and that is not easy. You did great work, and you need to remember that what you did is a huge accomplishment, and you can now accept who you have become, physically and beyond.