Postpartum Belly Patience
When you look at this picture, what do you see first? A really good looking guy, a really cute little dude, a bright orange wrap, a happy mom, a head full of hair on that squishy little one, husband-and-wife-matching sandals? Probably one of those things caught your eye first. Well, like most people, my eye is drawn to myself first when I look at a picture. And do you know what I saw first? My belly. Not my face, and definitely not anything else in the picture like my beautiful family about to go for an evening walk. I saw my postpartum belly, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
I had a baby two weeks and one day prior to this picture. Two weeks after having my first son, I looked a little softer, but didn’t have any semblance of a gut. Not like in this picture.
And instead of doing what you think I’m going to do, which is tell you that I am loving that gut because it is part of my body and I love my body and I’m proud of what it did in birthing two humans; I’m going to be honest with you: this is hard and I don’t like my gut at all. While I do love my body, and I am impressed by what it’s capable of doing, and I do not determine my self worth based on the size of my waist, I still do not like having a gut. I’ve always been an athlete, and though I don’t freak out about carrying a little extra weight around, it’s never been so glaring. Even in loose clothing, that belly is still protruding and I catch a glimpse of it every time I walk past a mirror.
But you know what else I’m not doing? (And part of what’s possibly making this harder?) I’m not sucking my stomach in. That’s one of the worst things you can do for your core health, a terrible start to healing diastasis rectus abdominis, and basically pointless. (Be honest: sucking in just makes you look like you’re sucking in, not like you’re actually thinner.) I am intentionally belly breathing. I’m causing my gut to stick out even more by breathing with my whole diaphragm and expanding my abdomen 360 degrees.
Oh, and one other thing I’m not doing: working out.
Yep, I’m seeing that gut, knowing that after I get back to moving some weight around and working out again, it’s going to (eventually) disappear. I’m a woman of action. Typically if I don’t like something, I take steps to change or improve that situation. But I’m not about to jeopardize my postpartum (read: rest of my life) health for a quick fix. I’m letting my body heal. So I’m repeating to myself what I tell all of the postpartum moms I work with in my practice or in the BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series: no one is looking at your gut; they’re all looking at that new baby. And I’m waiting. That walk we took after that picture was the first “activity” I did. We strolled. It was not a brisk walk.
I’m moving slowly and with intention. My body is still bleeding, I have a diastasis that needs a few weeks of belly breathing and functional progressions before I begin the BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series (and then will still need time to heal after that), my milk needs to figure out supply and demand, and I have a tiny baby who is brand new in the world. I will wait. My gut can wait. Because the last thing I want to do is make the postpartum period harder than it needs to be.