Monday, July 28, 2014

Pregnancy weight and postpartum body

As girls, as women, it is difficult to talk about our bodies and all the complicated feelings we start harboring towards them as we grow up. It seems one of the biggest taboos is the postpartum body. Everyone seemed so shocked when Kate Middleton proudly showed her belly after giving birth and -oh surprise- she supposedly still looked a few months pregnant. As if by an act of pure magic, women are expected to go back to where they were as soon as the baby is popped out. Bodies are truly miraculous: to think that new beings can grow from what starts as a single cell; that these little wonders of nature can orchestrate their development, coordinate a whole set of new functions, from the synthesis of more than a liter of extra blood** to specifically cater the needs of the wee one, to the creation of a whole, brand new organ (the placenta), and so forth, it is all mind-blowing.


But to pretend or expect that all of these changes, changes that took approximately 10 months to take place, can revert immediately after an event that takes 12-24 hrs is nonsense.

 

When I was pregnant, I tracked and plotted my weight, for scientific curiosity and to keep a record of what was going on. As a point of comparison, I used an online application that gives you an estimate of an expected healthy pregnancy weight gain (within a range) based on your initial weight and height.  During the first months, the increase in weight was slow, you barely saw any difference. My clothes fit well until I was around 20 weeks pregnant when I finally gave in and started wearing the glorious, elastic maternity jeans. I did have a belly, but at the beginning it was not a round, typical pregnant belly. The last time I weighed myself was at 33 weeks, the day my waters broke and I was admitted at the hospital sometime around 4 a.m. By then I had already put 10 kg (22 lb). I think, had I reached full-term, I was probably going to put around 12 kg (26.5 lb).

33 weeks pregnant, 1 day postpartum, 1 week postpartum

 When I gave birth, I lost around 4 kg (baby Y. weighed 1.9 kg), and  my weight stayed that way for quite a while.  At around 8 weeks postpartum, a couple of weeks after the "official" 6-weeks recovery period, I had lost a further 3 kg, which means I still had around 3 kg. left.  At 12 weeks postpartum I was 1.5 kg above my pre-pregnancy weight. However, though, some of my pre-pregnancy pants (albeit elastic corduroys) fit almost straight away. I tried my most beloved pair of jeans at about 5 weeks post-partum. I was so determined to make sure they'd close that in doing so, I ripped the zipper.

2, 3 and 5 weeks postpartum respectively

But I think by around 3 months post-baby and after a trip to the tailor I started wearing them again. I had read stories of women who even when all of the pregnancy weight is gone end up with a different body shape. (This, by the way, is completely natural: bodies change with time, with continual exposition to hormonal cycles, with age related processes, with variations in metabolism). I certainly have a soft, curviness that wasn't there before, but I don't think my hips got wider after pregnancy and birth (probably because at 33, they had already done so).

Weeks 6, 10, 12 postpartum

This morning, 6 months and a half after baby Y's birth, I weighed myself and I am now 1.5 kg under my pre-pregnancy weight. I kind of suspected this because some clothes that used to fit just well are  starting to fall down my hips these last few weeks. I have the appetite of a trucker, I am taking  vitamins specifically designed for breastfeeding as well as lots of good fats and protein sources (plenty of avocados, chia seeds, full fat yoghurt, orange juice, eggs, beans, lentils, and red meat whenever I crave it).  I make sure I am eating enough. (But maybe I'm not?)  I credit breastfeeding for this apparent speed in my metabolism, though I still have to set myself up to start some kind of exercise routine to make my core stronger and to get some kind of semblance of fitness, even if such program takes place in the living room. Do you know of any good programs to follow? Preferably easy ones for a girl who has never been the sporty kind?

This weekend, 27 weeks postpartum. Note the flamingo obsession.

On a related note, have you heard of the 4th trimester bodies project? I think what this photographer is doing is amazing, empowering, and truly needed.

* First image via Elle Nederland
** Blood volume changes in normal pregnancy. Hytten F. Clin Haematol. 1985 Oct;14(3):601-12.

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience with this, Amanda. It does feel like a taboo topic sometimes, and I think the only way to make it less taboo is to talk about it.

    Also, I love the colors in that last flamingo outfit!

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    1. Thanks! I saw that t-shirt at the girls' department and I had to get it.

      And yes.. we have to talk about these things. I had not even heard about many things that happen during new motherhood.

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  2. Tercera vez que no me entero si comenté en tus posts, algo raro pasa. Te decía que me gusta mucho este por original, novedoso, útil, sin tabués, etc. Felicidades.

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    1. Que raro... pero sí a mi también me ha pasado. Borra el comentario, carga y a volver a escribir. No se que pasa con blogger.

      Gracias :) La verdad es que nadie habla de estos temas... y las que hablan de ello son las famosas que tienen dietas y entrenadores personales y otras prioridades, supongo.

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks so much I fell in love with it when I saw it, it's a size 16 for girls hehe.

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  4. You look fabulous!

    I am doing the bikini body mommy challenge (http://bikinibodymommy.com/) she posts 90 days of workouts on youtube. Yesterday was my first day & I loved it! The workouts are all short (under 20 min) and very intense. Like you, I'm not worried about body fat, but I definitely need to tone up! I'm combining healthy eating with her workouts and hopefully that will do the trick!

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    1. Thanks! I will join you in that challenge, but... I still have to find the time. Now that we are back home and settled I really have to sneak it in in our daily routine. 90 days wow, that's three months, that will require some discipline !

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  5. You could try Tae Bo, my favorite instructor (in youtube) is still the creator Billy Blanks.

    Los vídeos para principiantes son fáciles desde mi punto de vista, yo nunca he sido del tipo deportista tampoco.

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    1. Ah gracias, voy a checar esos videos ! Y gracias por comentar!

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  6. I love your clothes so much!! <3

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  7. Eres muy afortunada!!! la verdad es una de las cosas que mas pienso.. ya tendre mucho que hacer luego de la llegada del piccolino.....creo que tienes muy buenos genes, veo que tantas mujeres europeas después de poco tiempo recuperan su peso y curvas....
    saludito!

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    1. Gracias... Creo que la lactancia también tiene mucho que ver, acelera tu metabolismo y saca reservas para la nutrición del pequeño. La verdad es que la naturaleza es maravillosa.
      Si es verdad que me dedicó a caminar bastante básicamente cada día con la carreola, pero además de eso no he hecho ningún tipo de ejercicio y me da muchísima hambre, a veces hasta como más que Mark. Tu no te preocupes, dale tiempo al tiempo, come de todo, saludable, y verás que también te ira muy bien!

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