Originally Published on E!Online, April 5th
We all know the “Body After Baby” phenomenon. Even if you have never seriously considered having a child. Even if you are a man. You have no doubt seen countless magazine covers or blog posts on how such-and-such celebrity looks SO amazing just a few weeks after giving birth. Sure, everyone wants to be healthy. Women have always been interested in getting back in shape after having a child. But when did this become a race against the clock? When did it become expected that everyone needs to be a bangin’ MILF with ripped abs a month after popping out a baby?
When I had my first baby, I was so ready to snap back into shape. I ate healthier than I ever had in my life while I was pregnant. I worked out regularly. I got complements like crazy—everyone told me they couldn’t even tell I was pregnant from the back and that except for my belly, it looked like I hadn’t gained a pound. So I felt ready! I was determined to lose the weight fast. I even bought a gorgeous black, boned waist trainer, ready to start the compression process right away. I remember taking a seat in my closet and unlacing my waist cincher, ready to put it on and feel like I had an hourglass for the first time in months. But it wouldn’t fit around my waist. I kept loosening the laces more and more, trying to get the garment to fit. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t even get the cincher around my belly—completely unlaced!
When I came home from the hospital, my stomach hadn’t deflated the way I thought it would. Sure, I knew I would have weight to lose, but I didn’t think I would still look like I had a baby in there! The truth is, for most people, you go into the hospital looking 9 to 10 months pregnant, and walk out looking approximately six months pregnant. The uterus doesn’t snap back overnight. You don’t lose all the extra fluid you retained during pregnancy during birth. And it takes a minute for your organs to find their way back to where they used to be. Rarely, a woman can have that deflated look after giving birth, but I find that people who do are usually the rare unicorns who, for whatever reason, didn’t have much of a bump to begin with. Everyone is built differently and carries in a different way.
Anyway, a few days after giving birth, I went out by myself to grab something from a store I frequented. The salespeople who knew me all looked at my belly (which was still very much present) and asked, “So…when are you due again?” Crestfallen, I had to look at them and say, “Oh, I had my baby last weekend.”
It was several weeks before I could even wear the waist cincher I had been so excited about. In the meantime, I did everything else I possibly could to get back in shape quickly. As soon as my doctor said I could start working out, I put myself on a daily regimen of yoga and Hip Hop Abs. I continued eating as healthily as ever. I breastfed for a number of reasons, one of which was because supposedly it makes your uterus contract and shrink back down faster. I was able to appear at an event, looking quite thin, a few weeks after giving birth, but I have to admit that the illusion was accomplished only because I chose a flattering, belted dress and underneath that, was wearing two waist cinchers layered on top of each other! All in all, the weight loss wasn’t particularly quick or miraculous. It took me a full 11 months to lose the 30 or so pounds I gained and truly get back to my pre-pregnancy, “ideal” weight. Even after that, I was still left with some changes. My belly button looks different and my skin is a little looser around my ribcage. Did you know a woman’s ribcage can expand up to two inches during pregnancy to accommodate the extra lung capacity needed for a growing baby? I suspect my ribcage never went back down to normal. I have several dresses that I can no longer zip up past the chest, and it’s not because my boobs are any bigger.
Six weeks after giving birth, I did a multi-page “Body After Baby” spread in a national magazine. I still had some pounds to lose, but I was confident enough to wear a bikini for the shoot. I felt good about myself, knowing I had worked as hard as I could and done everything possible to stay healthy during my pregnancy and to get back in shape after it. Just as I was giving myself a pat on the back, I saw a blog post about some actress who was back to work, looking as thin as ever, just two weeks after giving birth!