Post Baby Body

When you have a baby, your body isn’t your own. It becomes the property of doctors, your husband/partner, family members, and anyone who has an interest in the baby. This is even more true if you have help making the baby (meaning fertility treatment, not some kind of special night party!), or if you have complications during pregnancy or labour. Plus, your body very literally becomes the property of the little life you’re growing inside.

 

Once the baby is here, your body is yours a little bit again. Except your stomach now resembles a deflated balloon, and your little creature may claim your chest area as theirs for the next few months. In those early days you’re completely at the whim of this small child and feeling mad with sleep deprivation. I remember reading a baby book which was asking me what kind of baby I had: I remember thinking “I don’t even know who the child is myself yet! We have a stranger living with us!’

Twelve days before Baby B arrived, just chillaxing on the putting green.

Twelve days before Baby B arrived, just chillaxing on the putting green.

It’s common for women to read that it took 9 months to grow the baby, so don’t stress if it takes as long to lose the weight. This is comforting on the one hand, but on the other hand there’s enough change already without looking down and not recognising yourself. Kate Middleton was awesome when she left the hospital with George – her dress showed how much weight she still carried, even though she had her blow dry. When she left with Charlotte I felt equally sad for her and annoyed: she looked perfect. No other new mother could even compete! But I bet she was thinking ‘what the hell am I doing in these heels, don’t they know I pushed a human out five hours ago? Glad my hair is up to your standards Daily Mail, now excuse me while I get home before my boobs leak all over my couture dress..’.

 

When I came out of hospital I looked like I was 6 months pregnant still, but suddenly people weren’t interested in my stomach anymore :(  It was enough to walk up to our bedroom each day, let alone leaving the house: it felt like it was impossible I’d ever run again! Then over the next few days, I was healing and by day 5 I was able to walk to the pub with friends (I feel it was a good choice of destination for our first trip).

 

Looking back, I’d say that there were a couple of things that I did during pregnancy that really helped on the other side:

  1. Keeping up with some kind of exercise meant that the weight didn’t stick around for as long as it might have done, and helped with the recovery as I wrote about here.
  2. Watched my diet. Thanks to gestational diabetes, I couldn’t eat as much cake as I had planned to during pregnancy – there was definitely no ‘eating for two’! Or if there was, it was followed by a biiiiig walk.

 

I was also definitely lucky not to have a complicated birth. The more I hear about ‘natural birth’ the more unnatural it seems: almost all of my friends have had some kind of intervention and have taken longer to recover than I have with my operation!

Six days before Baby B arrived.

Six days before Baby B arrived.

A month after Baby B was born we started going for long walks each day. This was both to give us something to do, and if I couldn’t run, I was damn well going to walk. 5 weeks after, when my dad & step-mother arrived from Sydney I was so excited that I ran down the street like an 8 year old. It felt great – flying through the air like I used to! And then I got a stitch, and my legs ached all evening. Hmmmm.

 

By week 7 I was starting to run again, and now that we’re at week 12 I’m almost back to normal. Comparatively I know that I’m lucky to be able to say that after three months, and whilst I wouldn’t swap it, there is an element to all this that I want to raise…

 

And that is that it’s not all about how you look. Yes, I’d prefer not to look down and see a crepe paper stomach, or more orange peel legs, which are the two parting gifts I’m left with. But it’s just as much about how you feel. Your hormones are going mad, you’re adjusting to a new identity as someone’s parent, you’re trying to work out how you can cook the dinner, and you want to enjoy the little person you’re getting to know. In amongst all this, you’re also getting to know your post-birth body: what its new limits and abilities are. It doesn’t matter that people  say you look good: you’re learning where your new weaknesses are and it takes a while to get used to them.

 

Reading that it takes 9 months to grow a baby so it may take 9 months before you feel back to normal is helpful as it sets kind and realistic expectations. Personally  I have also enjoyed taking a more proactive approach. Breast feeding does help, and as soon as we could, Baby B and I were walking everywhere. It wasn’t running, but I was able to enjoy the things I love about running still: being outside, feeling the fresh air, feeling like I’m doing something good for myself, and now for Baby B. So whilst there’s still a way to go with the actual weight and my figure, I feel better for being able to do something that resembles who I was before. It feels familiar and new at the same time, and the best part is I get to share it with my new little sidekick.

 

Of course, this is just my experience, and  I’ve always been independent and impatient! My approach has been to try and be kind to myself, and to work within my new limitations. It seems to be working so far – but the most important thing I’ve learned since Baby B came along is that every plan is good in theory, but the reality is so different!

 

Ellie B

 

 

Christmas Plan that will Completely Work

So my exercise plan has continued to follow the unconventional route: two weeks ago we moved house, which involved lots of running between houses carrying shoes, moses baskets and soap dispensers, and of course lugging boxes around. It was as fun as you would imagine.

 

If I’m running the marathon in April, that means training beings just after Christmas, which means I have about 6 weeks to get into any kind of shape to start training! To be honest with you, this whole ‘getting back in shape’ thing has been a lot harder than I anticipated. The days fly by in a whirl of nappies, feeding and baby groups, and half the time I find myself in bed at 10.30 without knowing what has actually happened in the day!

 

I need to be realistic now about what I can actually do. Even while I’m typing this, Baby B is in her bouncer and is letting me know she’s not happy about it! So… I have a few basic goals to take us up to Christmas, and then we’ll take it one step at a time from then.

 

Ellie B’s Christmas Plan Which Is Completely Do-able and Nothing Will Get in the Way unless Baby B has Other Ideas:

 

  • Goal: run 10k as standard again
  • Plan: Work on core three times a week: starting with plank for a little bit and working my way up to 8 minute abs
  • Plan: Stretching at least three times a week
  • Plan: Aim to run three times a week, and build up distance
  • Plan: go to gym at least twice a week to work on leg muscles and core
  • Plan: Walk everywhere we need to go. Save that bus pass for an emergency!!

 

If I can run at least two weekday mornings and once on the weekend, plus go to the gym on maybe two weekday afternoons that would be UH.MAY.ZING. But I have learned over the last 11 weeks that as soon as you plan something, you will find yourself singing nursery rhymes or putting a plastic bag to your child’s feet so they can feel it and learn that they actually have feet instead. Which is a different kind of fun.

 

Anyway, I have to go! Baby B is about to turn into a gremlin, so we are going to go for a walk. Hopefully I’ll be able to add some pics later!!

 

Happy Friday everyone!!

 

Ellie B

First Run Back

Since the last post, we have had to find somewhere new to live, had my parents visiting from Australia, and today we have people packing all our things for the new house. We didn’t plan on moving again so soon, but we’re up for the challenge!

 

In amongst all the chaos, something REALLY exciting happened:

IMG_2572

 

YES, I’M BACK RUNNING!!

 

I have been walking as much as I can, but 7 weeks after the c-section, I went for my first run. I had the company if SB and my Dad too, which was a great bonus. So far I have been out for three runs (plus multiple brisk walks, but this isn’t a brisk walk blog!), and am planning on even more now we’ve ordered ourselves a running buggy.

 

Before I went out, I was so excited. I’m feeling pretty much myself now, just a bit more stiff and a bit more soft around the middle! It felt like I could return at the same pace as before. Here’s how they went down:

 

  • Run One: 4km, 7:58/km average pace. Dad and I ran at a gentle pace just in case something dramatic happened, like my leg fell off from the shock of it all. Luckily this wasn’t the case, and the only side effects I felt during the run were some twinges in my abdomen where the muscles are still healing. At the end, my IT band was waking up a bit, and was not happy!
  • Run Two: 3.6km, 5:50/km average pace. This was the first run where SB stayed at home with Baby B & I went on my own. I kept it shorter as it felt strange to leave them both behind! I tested what a comfortable yet challenging pace would be, and it turns out 5:50kms was it! This run felt light, but I was surprised at how short the distance was!
  • Run Three: 4.1km, 6.01/km average pace. This time I wanted to go a little further, but it was still only 4.1km! It seems I’ve forgotten how long running actually takes. By this run, the initial adrenaline of excitement had subsided, and I found it actually quite challenging.

photo 4

 

It’s been three months since I’ve done any running, and I am torn between feeling happy with how I feel while running but frustrated that my distance is so short. There are obviously some differences: I need to stretch and get my muscles used to working in that way, and the experience of running has changed. Instead of it being a chance to clear my thoughts, it’s something I’ve tried to fit in around Baby B and seeing SB in the evenings. So that places a pressure on the 30 mins that I’m out which wasn’t there before. I think (hope!) that as we all adjust to our new routine, this will fade. There’s a funny conflict where I’m happy to get out and have fresh air and time on my own, and wanting to get back to the baby and SB, in case they’re having all the fun without me.

 

So there’s no more excuses for not getting out and tackling the pavements! I have enjoyed my time off, and towards the end was looking forward to running with the same feeling as when you were little and looked forward to going back to school after the Summer holidays: you were excited for the routine and its familiarity again, but knew that it would soon become more tedious than your mind currently thinks. Not that I don’t love running, but I really did enjoy my hiatus where not exercising and eating lots of m&ms was actually encouraged (Make sure you get all those calories, you’re breast feeding after all! Don’t try to do too much, it’s ok to have at least two pyjama days per week – you’ve had surgery after all!).

 

So stay tuned for more adventures such as ‘Getting back into Shape’, ‘Preparing for Marathon Training’ and ‘Running with a Buggy: How Long Will She Cry’. Oh, there are some exciting times ahead! And in the meantime, its great to be back. 😀