If you’re one of those lucky women who didn’t get a single stretch mark during pregnancy, like my bloody mother, then that’s fabulous for you and I hope you appreciate it! I on the other hand look like I’ve been clawed at by Wolverine. I also have the ever attractive “Mummy Tummy”, the jiggly loose empty sack of skin where an entire human being used to live. These are my thoughts and experiences in working towards regaining your pre-pregnancy body.
I have to say before I start that breast feeding really helps with losing weight post birth as you lay down a lot of fat cells during pregnancy in order the produce breast milk as it takes a lot of calories, therefore if you breast feed you use up these fat cells making breast milk. If you’ve chosen to, or had to, bottle feed then you won’t have this additional help so it may be harder for you to lose the pregnancy weight.
For me losing weight has come gradually and naturally. I lost my craving for cake which obviously helped, and breast fed which did the rest. I was advised by my health visitor not to start exercising until at least 6 weeks and I wasn’t going to do anything until my stitches (they’re just lovely aren’t they?) had gone and the bleeding had stopped. I’m not skinny, and I have no desire to be, but I’m a pleasantly plumpcious size 12 and very comfortable with it. I have reached a place where I am comfortable with my size, I just wish I wasn’t so jiggly. When you’ve lost most or all of the weight from pregnancy, which is where I am at now, you are likely to still have the mummy tummy. It doesn’t go away and firm up, it stays jiggly even when the rest of you is back in your pre-pregnancy jeans.
If you’re at that stage and either want to lose weight or just tone up and feel a bit more fit, then there’s a couple of things I would recommend. Swimming is great, it’s gentle and easy and you can do it with friends. There’s no need to push yourself and and be one of those intense, serious types in the boring swimsuit and ugly rubber cap shooting up and down the pool breathing like a gremlin. Just get in, swim up and down gently whilst gossiping about who’s sleeping with who and last night’s episode of Glee (or something less lame if you’re cooler than I). It builds up muscle gently, firms you up, and works your whole body in a gentle way. Plus you can take your baby! Check out my post Water Baby.
Another great thing I’m doing is called Zumba Gold. I’m sure you’re picturing the Zumba classes we’ve all seen where super fit people in lycra are throwing themselves around the room to intense beats and looking awesome. That’s great if you’re up for it, but I am most certainly not. Far too much hard work, and having not had much exercise since getting pregnant I’d have probably passed out half way through the first song. I call Zumba Gold “Zumba for the old, the fat, and the post natal”. If you need a gentle but fun exercise class it’s for you. Nobody does it right, seriously, nobody. My first class I was so distracted by the number of different beats and different steps and different directions people were using that I got completely lost myself and joined the chaos unintentionally! But it was good natured chaos, nobody minded if I went wrong; the teacher Kate says as long as you’re moving that’s all she asks!
Finally make sure you walk. Put your mini-me in a pram and go for a walk with the dog or with a friend and just keep stepping. It gets both of you out in the fresh air which is much better for you being cooped up inside all the time, and is a nice way of breaking yourself back into movement again. If the other ideas turn you off and all you do is go for a ten minute stroll each day then that’s fine, you don’t have to go all out and you don’t have to try and get your pre-baby body back, just try to do a little bit of exercise each day to keep you healthy and fit.
Don’t try and rush it. The images of the Victoria Beckhams and Claire Danes of this world who days after their baby is born look the same, if not thinner, than before they were pregnant are unrealistic. Plus we all have different bodies and all react in different ways. I firmly believe as long as you’re healthy that’s what counts most. Getting rid of the jiggle isn’t essential, your baby is the priority, but for me I wanted to firm up a bit purely so I feel better about me. If it doesn’t bother you then it doesn’t bother you and don’t let anyone try and make you feel like it should!
And finally, stretch marks fade over time. You can’t get rid of them by doing anything, it’s just something you’ll have to remind you of the amazing work your body has done. I believe they aren’t stretch marks, you’re a tiger who’s earned her stripes.
You can check out all my contact info an links on http://www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also http://www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and The Boy (Jonathan McKinney) and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to http://www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!