Blame the recent New York Times article for what you’re about to read (or at least the timing of me writing it). Let’s talk baby weight. Gaining it, losing it, and how celebrities on covers of magazines make us feel bad. Correction: How they make SOME PEOPLE feel bad. As a lone duck I’m here to shout that no woman should feel bad when seeing such images… we should feel empowered. No, I’m not drunk.
I know how sensitive this topic is, and please keep in mind that what you’re about to read is coming from a humble, honest place. It’s based on my personal experience, and it’s my genuine authentic opinion. As we all value, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion based on their own experiences. One of my opinions also happens to involve the idea that REGULAR women can pull off our own, mini-versions of how celebs look after having babies. That said, back to the celebrity moms…
As twisted as this sounds, I actually enjoyed perusing images of Hollywood moms who bounced back after baby when I was pregnant. I never felt ‘bad’ or ‘pressured’ when I saw their impossibly-fit bods, showcasing how they returned to their former selves right after having babies (hello, they’re celebrities, for crying-out-loud, it’s kind of their job to fascinate us). Brooke Burke, Bethenny Frankel, Miranda Kerr, Beyonce and Gisele Bundchen were some of my faves. But instead of feeling inferior about my own ‘regular gal’ status, I actually felt challenged. Yes, I know I’m not famous… but just like the regular feature in US Weekly says: “Stars… they’re just like us!” (You know you love that section.)
My delusional phenomenon happened with both of my pregnancies/babies (babies born September 2010 and March 2012). Maybe my hormones were working a number on me. Let’s see if I can get close to pulling off what they pull off… without airbrushing. So I tried. Yes, they’ve got trainers and tons of hired help, but my question remained: Is it possible for regular gals to bounce back fast? I’ve never claimed to have a supermodel bod (or ever will have, for that matter), but I was intent to get back to MY body after my babies were born. Word to the newly-pregnant: Don’t let media chatter about how these women are setting an impossible standard bring you down. If you take care of yourself before getting pregnant (and during), almost every woman can bounce back within a few months. You won’t return to your high school body, or the body you WISH you had, but rather get pretty damn close to the body you REALLY had just before pregnancy.
I’m no fitness/health expert (and I can’t speak to the issue of carrying twins, having to go on bed-rest or having a high-risk pregnancy), but here’s what I found to be the secret for bouncing back quickly (for us regular women): MAKE AN EFFORT TO GAIN PREGNANCY WEIGHT WITHIN MEDICALLY-SUGGESTED PARAMETERS. For a healthy woman to grow ONE baby, it is generally recommended that weight gain (over nine months) hover between 25-35 pounds…. maybe even up to 40 if you were especially petite to begin with. In other words, it’s NOT healthy to gain 50, 60, 70 or even more pounds like many pregnant women steer society to believe. (Sorry, Jessica Simpson, but those times that you bragged about those reported 50 pounds – maybe more – is not responsible or healthy. My OB/GYN would’ve been on your back, I’m convinced of it.) I am so exhausted by media talking heads pretending that it’s ok for women to gain an unhealthy amount of excessive weight during pregnancy. And lately it seems that if anyone (especially a woman) has an opinion about how packing on major pounds during pregnancy is not okay, it is immediately scolded and hushed. This philosophy and practice encourages a dangerous precedent concerning good health for pregnant women (and their unborn babies). It’s NOT okay to risk diabetes and other issues related to obesity (for you and your unborn baby). Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have license to gain 80 pounds over 9 months. IT’S. NOT. HEALTHY. I’m additionally sick of the scoffing at, ridiculing and/or chastising those women who opt to keep themselves together during pregnancy and come out the other end looking ‘mini-celeb-worthy’ post baby. I’m well aware that my point of view is in the minority, but I know there are other women who feel this same way about pregnancy weight gain/loss… you’ve emailed me for goodness sakes!
For kicks, I went back to something I wrote (on this blog) back in 2011… 6 months after LadyP was born. Some of what I wrote made me want to vomit (on account of my immaturity), but I still stand behind the philosophy I touted:
YES, IT IS POSSIBLE – AND PERSONALLY SUGGESTED, FROM EXPERIENCE – TO QUICKLY BOUNCE BACK (PHYSICALLY) AFTER HAVING A BABY. If you don’t go overboard with weight gain, then yes, you too can bounce back like a mini-celebrity. And anyone that calls you an unrealistic skinny-bitch for thinking (and living) this way should be ignored. I write these words as a ‘skinny-bitch’ new mom (so I’ve actually been called to my face from a fellow mother whom I just met at the time, which didn’t make me feel weird/guilty/sad/judged at all)… I don’t have servants, I don’t have a nanny that enables me to do sit-ups all day, I don’t have a housekeeper, and I don’t have the endless assistance of my own mom in town to help me. Many times I don’t have a husband around either (thanks to his crazy work schedule… and NO, I haven’t employed any of his services as of yet). I only share this with you to assure you that I haven’t been on some secluded & absurd celebrity workout regime to return to my pre-baby self after having babies.
The first time I pulled this off I perhaps thought I was lucky (maybe I was). The second time I did it (a year-and-a-half later, Spring 2012) I was convinced I discovered my secret superpower. But the fact that my little sister and a few close friends also successfully did this (all of us having completely different body types) made me believe from the bottom of my soul: Different shapes of regular women can bounce back quickly after having babies and squeeze into most of our pre-baby wardrobe a few months after popping out a newborn. It has nothing to do with pressure, starvation, excessive exercising or selfishly neglecting your newborn… it has everything to do with empowerment, a healthy attitude during pregnancy, respect for your body (and self) and keeping your wits somewhat in tact.
Take care of yourself BEFORE and during pregnancy. If you are in good shape before pregnancy and do your part to minimally maintain your body around your growing belly, naturally-existing muscle-memory will kick in a few months after that baby is out and you just might return closer to your pre-baby bod earlier than you thought, despite how society seems to tell women that they shouldn’t. I’m all for gaining weight to get a healthy baby, but part of getting a healthy baby is to healthfully gain weight… not to gorge for the novelty of it just because you’re “pregnant.” Eat one order of french fries…. not 1000. Or, don’t act confused when you’re still having trouble losing baby weight a year later.
Getting back to your pre-baby weight months after delivery (or within a few pounds) is pure math. Consider these facts: the actual baby, the ‘extra birth stuff’ (placenta, amniotic fluid, etc), the water & extra blood volume that you lose the following weeks after birth (eww, I know, but necessary to mention) typically adds up to around 15-20 pounds (I got this info from my own doctors, and I also found it listed on Canada’s BabyCenter site). After that, you’ve only got about 10-15 pounds left (if you stuck to the recommended pregnancy weight gain standards of 25-35 pounds). Aiming to lose 10-15 pounds over the course of 2-3 months doesn’t make the task as daunting and stressful, now does it? Cut some calories here and there, keep moving around your own house and it will happen without you having to freak out about it.
Now I’m going to really go off the rails… Here are my personal facts & stats (I will preface this whole thing by saying that I got in great shape before my first pregnancy happened). Ready? Weight gained during first pregnancy: 29 pounds. Back in my old jeans and pre-preg weight about 2 months afterwards. Exercise during first pregnancy: walking around neighborhood and/or treadmill a few times a week for about 30 minutes, 10 or 20 pushups against my bathroom counter before brushing my teeth, 10 or 20 butt squats before going to bed (my husband loved making fun of me for those).Weight gained during second pregnancy: 32 pounds. Or maybe 33. Don’t remember. Exercise during second pregnancy: Ha. Like I had time to go to the gym between my one year old (at that time) and work gigs (I did manage to take walks here and there and kept doing those sporadic pushups/squats in my bathroom though). Exercise after [both] babies were born: I did it when I could (after 8 weeks passed…. C-sections for both births). I kept my bathroom routine going when I wasn’t obsessed with laying down and going to sleep, but DOING MY OWN HOUSEWORK kept me most active. No joke. (I practically abused my SwifferWetJet.) Not to mention I probably didn’t eat as much as I did before babies just because I was [still am, actually] time-crunched with a toddler and infant. Cramming things in my mouth when I can has become a sport and a challenge. Not to mention, my tummy insides had a lot of help post-birth thanks to my undying affection for my Tauts Belly Wrap that I wore morning, noon and night for 40 days after delivery (I wasn’t afraid to admit it).
Which leads me to my final point (at last, you say, if you’ve even made it this far). IT’S NOT A BAD THING TO WANT TO RETURN TO YOUR PRE-PREGNANCY SELF AND BE A SEXY WOMAN & HOT MOM (AS SOON AS YOU WANT TO) AFTER HAVING A BABY… and to actually do it. As for celebs: They just returned to the same person they were before getting pregnant. (And with the help of trainers too… but that’s their job.) I can attest that bouncing back to ‘myself’ quickly actually boosted my confidence and emotional strength… and I fully believe it’s made me the best mom I can be for my girls. I was [am] happy, settled, stress-free (most of the time) and content when I looked [look] in the mirror because I recognized [recognize] the woman looking back at me. So the next time you think of chastising or scolding a new mom for looking suspiciously good after having a baby and internally (or verbally) accuse her of neglecting her new infant for the sake of looking like she never even had a baby in the first place, please rethink it. It hurts our feelings to hear things like that just as much as it’s hurtful to call someone fat. Believe it or not, some of
us those ‘skinny-bitches’ happen to be pretty decent at this mom-thing (and have happy and balanced babies too). We may be lucky, but we also might have just began our pregnancies with the ‘after’ result in the back of our minds. The phrase ‘taking care of your family’ includes setting a good example, and letting yourself run wild beyond healthy limits during pregnancy (backing yourself into a corner to become a physical and mental mess that lasts more than 2-3 months after having your baby) is not a good example. No, we’re not celebrities… but ‘Stars are people too,’ remember? (It’s true. I’ve interviewed most of them.) Don’t sell yourself short what you can and can’t do if approached in a healthy, educated way… even during pregnancy and after you have a baby. So thank you, Beyonce, Bethenny, Gisele, Brooke and Miranda. You inspired me, and continue to do so. And it’s ok to feel fabulous about that.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT CELEBRITY MOMS’ POST-BABY BODS PLASTERED ON MAGAZINES? ARE THEY INSPIRING OR FRUSTRATING?
(DISCLAIMER: This article does not aspire to offer medical advice, and only offers opinion/anecdotes based on author’s personal experience and health history. Every pregnancy is different, and every woman should consult her doctor to insure a healthy body, baby, delivery and beyond.)