There are 2 things that post pregnancy women don't want to talk about. So let's talk about them. Actually, frankly, there's a lot more than 2 (did anyone else's leg hair turn black?!), but for the sake of simplicity, let's at least pick 2 to start. Because a lot of us have been there and a lot of us are there now and A LOT OF US NEED SOME SUPPORT, OKAY?!!?! (Whimper, whimper, whimper).
***Disclaimer to young readers and my husband's students: it's about to get real up in herez. Proceed with caution.***
Post Pregnancy Body
Let's talk about the post pregnancy body. The post pregnancy body that has stretched and grown and delivered four of the little rascals in the last five years (arbitrary numbers, of course). I remember after weaning my third (the fourth is nursing now) my boobs were as flat as fried eggs.
I called my BFF Angela crying. “Angela! My boobs! They're gone! It's like they've caved in on themselves and are starting a rebellion against the rest of my womanly body!”
She's got six kids. She laughed. Girl understands.
But the reality of a post pregnancy body is that it's no longer the pre baby body that we once enjoyed. Smooth legs, free of pesky veins. Boobs that existed. Tighter tummies. Toned arms.
We've traded our youthful glow for age spots and weird randomly curly hairs that show up on our body in places they shouldn't be. Hormones can be a real dog, man (as can those children we spent the better part of a year bringing it to the world, at the sacrifice of…. well, many body parts shall we say). Yet here we are. But what's a girl to do once the pregnancy is over and the post pregnancy body kicks in?
Keepin' It Tight and Right
- Baby lifts: Oh ya baby, feel the burn! The burn in your triceps and biceps that let you know your baby is no longer a baby… but a five year old that insists on being carried uphill to the barn to help check on the rabbits. What's that? Your three year old fell asleep in your arms at church and there are still four hymns to sing before it's time to sit down? Booya. Teeny tiny baby insist on being held and danced around the house to fall asleep? Feel your forearms starting to fall asleep, shoulders aching, back screaming, and wrists cramping? Toddler lifts, baby. Keeping those arms nice and tight. Lift. Set down. Lift. Set down. If your child is prone to falling or otherwise hurting their body in a variety of ways, as my hobbit is, you'll see results quickly (because everyone knows when a little one cries in pain, Mama runs to toddler lift that little one up into her soon-to-be-toned arms). Up. Down. Up. Down. And speaking of up, down, up, down…
- Cleaning lunges: Post-baby booty got ya down? Little extra in the gluteus maximus these days? I feel that. But fear not, because with your baby comes endless opportunities to implement the cleaning lunges. Sippy cups, poopy diapers, towels, toys, books, pacis, blankets… there's simply no end to the awesomeness that will soon be strewn around your floor like a nuclear kidpocolypse. Don't worry – every one will be looking to you to clean up from the kidpocolypse which means you'll have endless opportunities to really get those floors in order and practice the form for your cleaning lunges. Soon, you'll be able crush a skull with those thighs, baby.
- European glamour: How did Americans not get the memo that disheveled hair, neutral makeup, and au-natural beauty is all the rage? Forget bleached hair and fake eyelashes. I'm sure you're well aware at this point that you'll never have time for that after said babies. Lucky for you, keeping it simple and basic is where it's at… assuming, of course, you live somewhere in the European Union. In fact, French women are notorious for actually going out into the wind to get that messy, slept-in hair look. And you? Well – you get it naturally! Because you haven't washed your hair in six days and you've been up nursing a baby all night, allowing for maximum movement and hair displacement. And makeup post-baby? We're keeping it simple – fix those dark bags and throw on a coat of mascara with – Lord willing – a lipstick shade that helps bring you back from the dead. In Europe, you're practically a star with your messy hair, nude eyeshadow, and lack of accessories.
Oh post pregnancy body. You've done many wonderful things for me! You've nourished my babies. You've seen me faithfully through labor. You've been wonderful. But after four times, at least now I know what to expect. Get a support bra, cross your legs when you sneeze, and get on with your days.
Let's not be ashamed of our post pregnancy bodies. Scars, veins, marks, hairs, sags and all. Expect it. Savor those babies. And give thanks.
Hide your husbands… hide your kids… I'm talking about periods. The worst friend to meet post baby. After all, we've just experienced nine months of blissful period free days! Not that pregnancy was a walk in the park, but still, it's a welcomed rest from that little reminder each month of our womanhood. I was lucky enough to remain period free for almost a year while breastfeeding each child, but some aren't so lucky – breastfeeding or not. Like a thief in the night, it comes, ready to wage war. And – am I alone here? – or did everyone else's periods get WAY more horrible after their babies?
But fear not!
I've discovered some incredible ways to make those post pregnancy periods manageable (I was going to say enjoyable, but who are we kidding).
- Seed cycling: This has been the number one way that I've found to balance hormones and thus, balance my periods. I'll be writing a detailed post on this in the next few days, but in the meanwhile, check out my naturopath's information here. I've been seed cycling for about 18 months now and am continually blown away by how effective it is in diminishing the side effects of periods. Did you know that period isn't supposed to be painful? Chew on that, sparky.
- ClaryCalm: My favorite essential oil blend for all-things-female, ClaryCalm (a blend of Clary Sage Flower, Lavender Flower, Bergamot Peel, Roman Chamomile Flower, Cedarwood Wood, Ylang Ylang Flower, Geranium Plant, Fennel Seed, Carrot Seed, Palmarosa Herb, and Vitex essential oils) is a daily ritual for me post pregnancy. It offers cooling effects for the skin and assists further in balancing hormones. HORMONES?! WHAT HORMONES!? ARE YOU SAYING I HAVE HORMONE PROBLEMS?!?! Teehee. Get it here.
- Ditch the tampons and pads: Chemicals, y'all. Chemicals. Chemicals don't belong anywhere near your… parts… especially post pregnancy when everything is just a wee bit more sensitive than normal. Opt for more natural alternatives like the DivaCup, unbleached pads, and maybe even these fancy new underwear.
Regardless of whether or not we want to talk about these post pregnancy topics, there are still a few things we all must do. And that's a direct order.
- Nourish yourself: Feed your body and soul to the brim with what it needs. Foods rich in fat and nutrients help to support a post pregnancy, lactating body. Extra cheese. Big, tall glasses of raw milk. An extra egg in the morning. Now is not the time to trim your diet and focus on squeezing into pre pregnancy jeans. Now is the time to resupply your body with minerals and vitamins that have been leached out over the past year and focus on building up levels and reserves. And even beyond that, you've gotta nourish your mind. Read good books. Remember how to use your brain. And nourish yourself.
- Care for yourself: Take extra long bubble baths and give yourself a bit of time to pluck those eyebrows (if you want), shave those legs (if you want), paint your toenails (if you want), and sip on some Mother's milk tea. Appreciate what your body has done for you and give it a little tender loving care. If you can con your husband into giving you an AromaTouch massage, all the better.
I'm so sorry for mentioning underwear and periods and random curly body hair all in the same post. I couldn't help myself. One must share. There are post pregnancy things that women just don't want to talk about. But we should. Because we're beautiful, and we're capable, and our bodies have given us a big, squishy, loveable baby.
Let's rock those post pregnancy bodies.