I received an interesting email in my inbox last night.
Seems more than 7,000 women were recently surveyed by BabyCenter.com and that out of those women nearly 87% of mothers surveyed stated their stomachs had never returned to normal.
I can attest to that fact. Last week my oldest daughter pointed to my belly and said, “Are you going to have another baby?” (The answer, by the way, is an emphatic no, just in case you are wondering!)
I’m a runner, and as most of my regular readers know I finished my first marathon in February of this year and am now training for race #2. I run a lot. I try to do the other stuff that supposedly helps those abs: crunches, situps, pilates.
But tell me: When you own a company and have two children under the age of four, when are you supposed to squeeze in additional tummy time for yourself?
No, my belly has never returned to the original position it held for 30 some years before baby number one came along.
Then again, neither did anything else, which is something that a lot of mothers surveyed said as well. Somehow, gravity takes hold during those nine months (or 18, or 27, or, well however many months you remain pregnant) and gravity, well, she never lets go.
So what is a working mother to do when she is low on time and so busy that sometimes the purse ends up in the fridge and the milk winds up in the closet?
First, set aside a time each day to exercise, or at least 3-5 days per week. Make it a habit. I read recently in one of my running magazines that when you have done an exercise routine 9 times it sticks, so get up three times a week for three weeks and you have a routine. Walk, run, cross train, play tennis, do some abs, push yourself up on those well defined arms-just do something for at least thirty minutes. The article stated that while 65% of mothers expected to drop that weight by baby’s first birthday, realistically it can take up to one year before it all comes up-and sometimes even longer.
Watch your calories. If you are breastfeeding, you do need some extra calories each day for milk production, but you don’t need to eat an entire cake to get there. Munch on veggies and fruits and healthy foods rather than processed stuff filled with sugar. Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, keep your diet healthy. Replace sugary treats with bananas and peanut butter; drink water over cola; count calories if you need to.
Fast forward to 16 months post-second baby. We are heading off to Hawaii for a family trip next month, the first vacation my husband and I have taken in too long to even count. I have to get a bathing suit that hides the flaws and accentuates the positives, and every woman knows the demoralizing torture that is accompanied with bathing suit shopping, whether she’s had a baby or not.
I went into the changing room of a local sports shop to try a few suits on, both one and two pieces (I know, I felt daring that day). Let’s just say there wasn’t enough material on the bottom of each suit to cover up my three year old’s behind, much less this 38 year old’s. Doesn’t matter how much I tone, how little I eat or how far I run, some things just will never fit my body like they used to. (I don’t know why, but for some reason, most days, I feel like I’m still 21 and toned!)
The moral: Wear what makes you look and feel good. Don’t follow the latest fashions if they don’t work for your body type. I once interviewed Jason Trotzuk, designer and owner of Fidelity Jeans, for an article and I remember him telling me how women are sexy not when they are following all of the fads but when they realize what works for them and they stick with that. Then, he said, they know they look good, and when you know you look good, you look good.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. After having a child and then adjusting to no sleep, panicking over every little cough and returning to work on little to no sleep while feeling guilty about leaving baby behind, many mothers are really just overwrought with emotions and hormones. We take that out on ourselves.
In the survey, nearly half of the women reported that their parents had actually made derogatory comments about their post-baby weight, which can add to the feelings of depression and despair. Remember, though, it took nine months for you to get that big, so it is going to take that long, or even longer, to get back to normal. Plus, chances are your body just won’t be the same post-baby. You may get it close, but I bet it still will be a bit different when you’re done.
The good thing though? Well, the good thing is sitting in the room with you, talking your head off, telling you that she or he just doesn’t care how much you weigh as long as you will play with them, color with them, read with them, or just hold them.
If you remember the reason for the weight gain, chances are it won’t matter as much.