What Nobody Tells You about Getting Back into Shape after Baby

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You often hear people talk about how having kids changes your entire life.  I have to agree, having been through it more than a few times over.  I have four children ranging in age from nine months to seven years, and although they are exhausting, they are equally wonderful.  Pregnancy was never a walk in the park for me, but I tried to do all of the right things--eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and gain a healthy amount of weight.  Because of this, I assumed it would be pretty easy for me to bounce back into shape after baby arrived.  While that’s been true to a certain extent, there have definitely been some surprises along the way.     
Breastfeeding meant it took even longer for my old shape to return.  People talk about how quickly you can lose the baby weight if you breastfeed.  In my experience, that’s not completely true.  I always lost weight easily in the beginning, but then reached a point where I’d get stuck.  My choices were to cut calories to lose the weight (which sacrificed my milk supply), or just wait it out until I was done nursing and then the extra would start to come off.  I always chose the latter.  I considered that extra weight to be my ''fat reserves'' needed to help feed another person, so I didn’t beat myself up when my clothes didn’t quite fit despite my best efforts. 
Making time for exercise became a lot more challenging.  I get up before 5 a.m. every morning to exercise.  It’s not easy, but that’s the only time of day I’m guaranteed to squeeze in an uninterrupted workout.  I consider it my ''me'' time for the day--time to collect my thoughts, do something for myself and get the day started on the right foot.  If mornings aren’t an option, get creative about how you’ll be able to fit in exercise at other times of the day.  That could mean breaking your workout into 10-minute segments throughout the day, exercising on your lunch hour at work or while the kids nap in the afternoon.  Everyone is busy, but if you make exercise a priority, you’ll find time for it.    
I will never look exactly like I did before I had kids, and that’s okay.  Honestly, this is something I struggle with daily.  I weigh the same as I did before kids, but my weight is distributed differently now.  After four pregnancies, I’ve got a baby belly that seems to hang on despite my best efforts.  I don’t feel comfortable in some of my old clothes, and some of them don’t fit at all.  But I’m trying to learn that it’s not something to be sad about.  My body was amazing enough to grow 4 perfect children.  I’m healthy and strong, showing my kids I can run a half-marathon or do 20 ''regular'' pushups at a time.  Although there are things I could do to get me closer to the six-pack of my dreams, that’s not where I choose to spend my effort right now.   
Getting back to my pre-pregnancy fitness level took a while.  I maintained a consistent exercise routine throughout all of my pregnancies.  I was still running the week my first two children were born.  I assumed I’d bounce back quickly from my easy deliveries and be able to resume my normal routine soon after baby arrived.  Typically, that’s not what happened.  I didn’t account for the fact that my body would need time to heal and I’d be completely sleep-deprived, meaning I didn’t always have extra energy for a high-intensity workout.  You’ll hear it often:  it gets better.  In time, you’ll start feeling better and the baby will develop a sleep schedule.  That means you’ll have more time to rest and more energy to exercise.
It’s not fair to compare yourself to the celebrity moms on the magazine covers.  It’s frustrating to see the new mom in a bikini on the cover of a magazine three weeks after giving birth.  Although some might find inspiration in those images, I think it sets women up for unrealistic expectations of how quickly they can lose the baby weight.  If I had to guess, most of those women aren’t breastfeeding.  I’d also guess that they are spending hours in the gym each day and maintaining a very strict diet.  Part of a celebrity’s job is to look good, so all of that time and energy could be considered ''working''.  The average mom doesn’t have the resources to devote that much time and energy to weight loss.  Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to lose the weight quickly.  You’re better off losing weight slowly by developing habits you can live with for the rest of your life. 
Let’s face it:  growing a baby is hard work!  Give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve accomplished and embrace the changes in your body.  As long as you’re eating right and exercising regularly, change will come.  Be patient and be proud of your accomplishments along the way!

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KATHYJO56 3/9/2021
When I had my son, I thought I would come out of the hospital looking like I did before I gave birth. I got the surprise of my life when I didn't and it took a long time to learn proper eating habits. Report
EVILCECIL 8/5/2020
Good to know. Thanks. Report
ERIN_POSCH 7/17/2020
thanks for sharing Report
I'd heard that breastfeeding helps lose weight. Great article. Report
My children are now grown! In their 40's and 50's! Report
There are a lot of things people don't tell you! Report
Great article Report
I gained over 50 lbs with my 3rd baby. He weighed 10 lbs at birth though. It was still difficult to get the weight off Report
It's been so long ago, I can barely remember.! Report
It's been so long ago I can barely remember. Report
Well stated! Report
Absolutely great Report
I gained 30 pounds with each of my two pregnancies. I never exercised but managed to lose the extra weight in no time. I nursed both babies. I am older now and exercise but cannot lose weight as easily as I did then. Report
When I see celebrity moms with bikini bodies three weeks after the baby, all I can think about is it must be nice to have a personal trainer, private chef, and a nanny. I have to laugh when they complain how "hard" it is. Report
Since my supply was crazy low as it was, the last thing I wanted to do was to work out and eat healthier while lactating. Now that I've weaned and am trying to move on from my breastfeeding failure my weight is still stagnant, but I no longer have that excuse. I just have to watch my emotional eating... All I want is comforting junk. Report
Articles like this make me feel so much better about myself! I was so down about not being able to lose weight quickly with breastfeeding like everyone said I would. Breadtfeeding made me insanely hungry for the first 7-8 months; even though I was able to drop most of the weight, the last 10 lbs hung on. I'm still bf'ing now at 16 months and articles like this give me hope I can still lose that last 10 after my daughter decides she's done! Report
When I read these articles, all I can think about are women in the USMC who only have 6 months to achieve pre-baby weight (sub-25 BMI). I wasn't aware losing weight affected breast milk production, and I feel bad for all those mom's who literally have to choose between an other-than-honorable discharge (maintain bf and milk production) which will haunt them the rest of their lives amd reduce or eliminate their veteran's benefits (regardless of how many tours in Iraq/Afganistan they've done, or provide "liquid gold" breastmilk for their child. Report
I have been struggling with this so much lately. Mostly it was about making time and prioritizing my fitness. Until I did that, I was just flapping in the wind.

It's getting so much better now. Report
Interesting views on regaining your shape after a baby thanks~ Report
Zorbs13 - You made me laugh, but only because it's true! As to the celebrity moms... If they are appearing in a bikini within a month or two of giving birth it is absolutely a career move. They are getting enough sleep and working with a trainer daily because it is a priority for them and they can afford it. Forget it. Your kids are so precious in those first few weeks. That is where our priority should be. Once everybody is sleeping more predictably and your body recovers a bit you can work on getting into shape. Report
I have 2 kids, ages 9 and 4 yrs., and I am still trying to get to the pre-baby weight. I ate relatively healthy through both pregnancies and only gained the recommended weight during each pregnancy. I breast feed both for 1 yr. as recommended, hoping that would help take off the weight. Unfortunately breastfeeding made me constantly hungry and since neither of my children started sleeping through the night until they were 3 yrs. old, I was so chronically sleep deprived for the entire year of breastfeeding that I gained weight both times. I'm not really trying to lose pregnancy weight- I'm trying to lose breastfeeding/sleep deprivation weight! Thankfully the younger is now in 1/2 day preschool and I'm devoting that time to exercise and getting the weight gone for good! Report
I think "age" and "stage" also have a significant impact on the "bounce back" of one's body. -- Not having kids until my 30's changed my whole system. It will NEVER be what it was in my 20's (and kids are just a part of that). Report
I'm still not back to working out as much as I'd like to be, but I'll be the person you don't want to hear about: getting back to pre-preg weight was easy for me. I try to be continually grateful that my body has been as cooperative as it has! Report
Great article! It's a good reminder that it just takes time to get back into a workout routine. My son is almost 2 and there are still days I struggle to find the time for a quick workout! Report
Well said!! Report
Thanks for sharing this. As someone who is currently pregnant, I'm trying to find a little extra motivation to stay healthy and make better food choices. Hearing that things won't be as easy as I hoped they'd be post baby definitely helps me want to stay motivated throughout my pregnancy. I'll be having my spinach salad for lunch and I'm about to get up from my desk and take a morning walk. Report
No one warned me about the yellow tide of pee every time I tried to run. I was back in pre-baby clothes in 3 weeks and back to normal level workouts in 4 months PP. Report
I agree completely on the breastfeeding thing. Everyone said that the weight would come off as if by magic. And I'm sure it does, for some people. For me, though, I had to keep eating quite a bit or my milk supply would go down. So after losing a certain amount of weight, I just had to resolve that the rest would stay on. After I stopped nursing after that first 12 months, then I started focusing on losing the rest of that weight.