Ep. #124: “Bouncing Back” After Having a Baby

Bouncing Back After Having a Baby: Smiling women looking up into the camera, holding an infant boy at her chest.

So….my body isn’t exactly “bouncing back” to what it was pre-baby. And you know what? That’s okay! Part of my intuitive eating practice right now is really learning how to love and appreciate my body as it is. That’s an ever-evolving journey, and I wanted to give you a sneak peak into how it’s going. I also want to be honest about the reality that this is an adjustment, and there are struggles. I’m so glad this is a safe place to dive into those!

(Most importantly: Here’s the link to Tanner and his hair!)

Bringing Home Baby: 4 Month Update

Well, I’m not getting enough sleep! If you’ve had a newborn, you know all about that journey. (I’ll talk about that a bit more later on!)

Beyond that, we are really excited that Cooper started a new school experience. Over the last year we’ve been taking part in a childcare pod, which we really enjoyed. However, we were also ready for him to start going to school, and we found the perfect place! It definitely makes our lives a little bit easier, since having all of us home can make working here tricky. (I’ve also loved getting more 1:1 bonding with Tanner!)

Another thing I’ve noticed is that there are some things about Covid that are really nice when you have a new baby. Because there aren’t really any social events going on, I don’t have to choose between sitting home with FOMO, or going through all the work of getting us ready to go somewhere. Events can be exhausting with infants! In all honesty, I’ve found that I enjoy getting to really relax into a quiet home life as we get used to being a family of four. (A major downside, of course, is that there is also a lot less support available in terms of childcare options.)

Postpartum Body Update

I’m not in the same body I was in before I had Tanner. Honestly, sometimes I look in the mirror and feel like I don’t even recognize myself in this larger body. And honestly: sometimes that is HARD.

I know, deep down, that my body size has nothing to do with my worth or capacity as a friend, mom, wife, or business owner. And I know that my body has changed and shifted to bring Tanner into our lives. But knowing all that doesn’t keep insecurity and frustration from happening.

One major thing to keep in mind is that intuitive eating and body love aren’t one and done. Our society praises thin bodies….and it makes it clear that there are expectations around “bouncing back” and getting your “old” body back. But here’s the thing: you are a NEW person after having a baby!

Here’s what I’m doing to help combat the pressure to bounce back:

Not Weighing or Measuring Myself

It can be so tempting to think that losing weight or decreasing in size will make me feel better. As an intuitive eater, however, I know that’s not true. I also know that I can choose to love myself and my body.

However, I also know I don’t feel my best in my right now. For one thing, I’m really tired. Because I’m tired, I’m often reaching for snacks and other things to give me an energy boost. And I do need to eat! That brings us to my next item.

Bringing Whole Food Into Our Home

I’ve been using Instacart, Thrive Cart, Imperfect Produce, and Amazon Market to make sure I’m regularly bringing fresh, whole foods into our home.

The first few months of Tanner’s life, I was way too tired for cooking. More recently, however, I’ve felt more excited about cooking. I also know I often feel better when I make food at home rather than getting takeout. As a result, my current goal is to make five dinners at home each week.

However, I realized I don’t want to have to make lunch every day AND make dinner every day. I also didn’t want to order out lunch every day. After a bit of looking, I ordered smoothies and pre-made lunches from Daily Harvest. They’re pretty darn good, they take hardly any time to prepare, and they’re mostly compostable. Plus, they naturally help me eat more veggies, which always makes me feel better.

Sleeping When Tanner Sleeps

Tanner goes to bed at 8:30pm…and so do I!

Here’s the thing: I know that my whole day is ruined when I’m super overtired. My mental health and mood go downhill, and it becomes hard for me to be present with Cooper or my husband. Being overtired isn’t great for anyone, so if there is any way to go to bed earlier, sneak in a nap, or otherwise find ways to get more rest, I’m all about it!

Even though it can be tempting to stay up and use those evening hours for “me” time, I’m choosing to forgo that right now so I can get as much rest as possible.

Decreasing Caffeine

I LOVE my chai lattes. However, I’ve found that when I drink caffeinated drinks when I’m really overtired, I crash pretty hard a few hours later. I’ve also noticed that I don’t sleep as well, and it’s almost impossible to nap. It’s like being overtired makes me more sensitive to the effect of caffeine.

Since I still love my lattes, I try to pay attention to how my body is feeling, and how much rest I have (or have not) been able to get recently. If I’m feeling pretty well-rested, I might enjoy indulging in a chai tea. If not, I usually won’t, because I know how they make me feel in the long run. (Or I’ll enjoy a decaf version, or an herbal tea at home.)

Increasing Movement

I gave myself lots of space here; I wanted to be really recovered, and start moving because I wanted to. Once I felt ready, I signed up for a 6 week post-natal yoga class. Honestly, showing up every week for 6 weeks felt like a huge commitment that was kind of overwhelming to even think about.

But…I’m so glad I did! I got a sense of community with the other moms (via Zoom). I got to start enjoying movement again, and I made myself and my needs a priority. The class is really gentle, and it’s perfect for me right now. (It feels really good to choose to do this “feel good” movement. It can be so tempting to pursue strenuous exercise as a way of “bouncing back”…but it often doesn’t feel that good for our bodies!)

Another new form of movement is walking to Cooper’s school twice a day. I really enjoy walking when I have a purpose (rather than just randomly wandering), and getting Cooper to and from school is exactly that. It ends up being about 45 minutes total, and it’s a source of enjoyment in my day.

Practicing Body Gratitude

I talk about this a lot, and there’s a reason! It is so necessary to recognize that your inner mean girl has all sorts of nasty things to say….and that you don’t have to believe any of them.

When I hear her saying mean things about my stomach or thighs or pants that don’t fit, I intentionally make it a point to practice finding things to be grateful for.

My stomach is digesting the amazing meals I’ve been eating. My thighs get me to Cooper’s school and back each day. I don’t need those pants to fit perfectly — I have others that are perfect for my current size. This body brought Tanner into our lives, which is a gift beyond compare. There is SO much to be grateful for, and it feels good to remind myself of that.

Buying Clothes that Fit

I haven’t had jeans that fit in a while here! At first it didn’t matter to me that much, because we’re mostly just around the house a lot right now. (Yoga pants for the win!) However, now that I’m going to Cooper’s school more and starting to get back into a more regular work routine, I decided I wanted pants that fit well.

It was weird to buy “that” size, because it’s not what I usually buy. But it was the size that I knew would feel good and be comfortable, and that’s important! They’re supposed to come in another day or two, and I can’t wait to try them on!

Savoring Instead of Snacking

I’ve noticed that I’m really tired, and it’s contributing to a new mindless eating pattern. First things first: I’m not beating myself up for it! Food is energy, and I’ve been needing some extra pick me ups lately.

However, I’ve also realized that some of my eating is just…eating mindlessly or on the go whether I needed it or not. I’m working to be a bit more intentional about sitting down and really savoring (and enjoying!) my snacks. That let’s me get energy, and also tune in to my body and her needs quite a bit more.

Getting Counseling

After Cooper, I had some struggles. Looking back, it’s not completely clear if it was postpartum depression, anxiety, or just struggles related to lack of sleep and being a first time mom. This time, I found a counselor before giving birth to Tanner, with the intention of making sure I was getting the emotional support I needed while parenting a new human!

I was really proactive about this, because I knew that post-birth I was going to be overtired and probably overwhelmed. That’s not the best time for trying to find a counselor, so I took care of it early on.

Parenting during a pandemic is tough, and struggling with body confidence and social messaging about your body doesn’t help! If you just want to talk about it, feel free to connect over on Instagram and send me a message!

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