Pregnancy obviously comes with it's many challenges, which is to be expected because HELLO, it's making a human being. Your body changes and looks different as it accommodates this new life, so everything that happens during pregnancy makes sense. What I didn't think about was AFTER being pregnant. The baby comes out, and you're soooo happy and in love, but since he/she is no longer inside of you anymore, you kind of expect it to look and feel how it did last time there was no baby in there. YET, you're left with this completely different body that looks and feels so foreign. I can't find the right words to explain what it's like, so I'm just going to say, it's weird. It's such a weird feeling and stage.
After I delivered Piper, I felt so sore and tender. Some women are walking around the recovery floor, and looking at all the babies in the nursery as if nothing happened. I was in the recovery room for 48 hours after having Piper, and I could only ever hobble out of bed to go to the bathroom haha. I remember looking down at my stomach in the hospital bed, and wondering why the heck I still looked 6 months pregnant. It takes a while for the uterus to shrink back down, and for the swelling to subside, so it all makes sense, but for some reason I expected it to be back to normal (yes, har har, I'm an idiot. I know). You're used to having a big belly during pregnancy, but it's really hard because of the baby, so once the baby comes out it was weird having it feel super soft and doughy.
When I was finally discharged from the hospital (we went in Sunday evening and left Thursday afternoon, with a nurse checking on you every hour day and night, so I was SO ready to be going home), I remember walking into the health insurance clinic on our way home to pick up my breast pump (my insurance didn't let you have one until you actually had the baby), and my stomach felt like it was flying all over the place with every step I took. It was so soft and completely jiggly because of all the excess skin. All of these things I never, ever thought about. I was so focused on HAVING the baby, that I didn't really prepare for what I would be like afterwards.
I remember going on a 10 minute walk with Piper wrapped to my chest on the Friday, just to get some fresh air, and my whole pelvic floor felt messed up. I had a lot of stitches and was still bleeding (I was also back on blood thinners which makes you bleed more than usual...eek), so the 10 minute walk turned into a 2 minute walk.
For me, those first few days were really hard physically, emotionally (hello hormones and zero sleep), and mentally. Everyone says to soak up every second of the newborn phase because it goes too fast, which is does btw, but they also say to sleep whenever they sleep. BUT THEY SLEEP ALL THE TIME! So if I slept all day I'd miss the newborn phase entirely! I barely slept when she did because I didn't want to "miss out" on all the cuddles. I also felt like I was abandoning her if I left her in the crib, so all-in-all, I was a bit of a mess haha.
I will say that the human body is incredible, and there is a greater appreciation you develop for it while going through pregnancy and delivery. My body improved every single day. It was like it knew what it was doing, and was well-prepared for this part (much more prepared than I was mentally haha). Every single day I moved better and better. I bled less, I felt less sore, and the swelling went down. About a week after delivery, I already felt 100x better. I still had more recovering to do, but it's amazing how the body responds to such an ordeal.
I shared my entire pregnancy from the get-go, without knowing how it would play out. I also shared my entire postpartum progress, again, without knowing how it would turn out. It was sometimes hard to share because I never wanted anyone to compare their pregnancy and postpartum body to mine (whether it was feeling better for being "further along" or feeling bad for not looking the same). I had NO clue what my body was going to do. I didn't know if it would take me months and months and months to return to "normal", or whatever else. I just shared wherever I was at.
To be 100% honest, I didn't have a super hard time "getting my body back" or whatever you want to call it. I don't think it ever goes back to "normal", but you find a new normal. The skin on my stomach is absolutely stretchier. I have skin rolls whenever I bend over now. I nursed Piper for 9 months, so now my chest is MUCH smaller (which I was expecting them to get bigger again now that I'm pregnant, but they haven't changed at all...um, rude). My bum completely turned to jello while I was pregnant haha. It was V soft. It's taken me a loooong time to try and tone it back up, and now I'm pregnant again, so we'll see what happens there ha.
I was cleared to exercise at 6 weeks postpartum, which is when I started gently easing back into working out. Prior to that, I went on walks with Piper and did gentle pelvic floor strengthening exercises (you can find them under the "postpartum" tab at the top of this blog, or under #gfspregnancy on Instagram).
I will say that I'm sure genetics played somewhat of a factor in how I carried, and how my body recovered, but I worked my BUTT off (almost literally, because like I said, my butt turned to jello) during pregnancy. I taught spin classes until I was 36 weeks pregnant. I worked out consistently, fueled my body well, and did my best to listen to my body's needs. My body recovered the way that it did because I treated it well, and I don't mean this in a cocky way, but I am proud of that, because it was really HARD to do. I 100% believe that the best thing you can do for your postpartum body (and your baby!!) is to TREAT IT WELL while you are pregnant. If you put in the hard work during those 9 months, it's absolutely worth it.