Thursday, April 18, 2013

My body, 15 months later

Disclaimer: This is a totally vain post. Just thought I should point that out.

I could have titled this post, "My body, 12 months later" because the information is the same now as it was several months ago, but obviously I do not keep up with blogging the way I used to, so this will suffice.

Nearly a decade ago, long before I had any remote desire to have a child, I remember finding myself in a doctor's waiting room, thumbing through a random magazine which contained a large photo of a woman with all kinds of arrows pointing to all her various body parts, showing how her body would never be the same once she got pregnant and had a baby. Her feet would permanently swell, going up at least one shoe size. Her stretch marks would be there for life. Her weight would increase at least 5 pounds for every baby she had. The information in this magazine was probably loosely based on some scientific research, but even if it was entirely made up, it was enough to convince me I didn't want a baby any time soon.

So, in case you haven't been through the pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding experiences, I thought I'd share my story about how those experiences affected (or didn't affect) my body to offer you some glimmer of hope that you too can get your old body (mostly) back after you go through these events.

The short answer to, "How has my body changed?" is: Not much. I got back to my pre-baby weight within 12 days, thanks to breastfeeding, genetics, and the fact that I gained a healthy amount of weight slowly during pregnancy. I also avoided stretch marks, probably thanks again mostly to genetics and healthy weight gain. My feet did not grow, so those four pairs of shoes I bought while pregnant still fit perfectly.

Here, though, are some less awesome noteworthy details:

1) Although my weight was back to normal super quickly, I retained extra fat on my stomach until I stopped breastfeeding.

This makes sense, given the fact that a breastfeeding mother's body needs to hold on to fat deposits gained during pregnancy in order to help sustain the baby. So, I stopped breastfeeding Natalie when she was 10.5 months old, and by the time her first birthday rolled around my stomach was as flat as it was pre-pregnancy. No one had told me that they got their stomach back when they stopped breastfeeding, but I have a feeling I am not alone in this experience.

2) It turns out I grew a lot of extra hair on my head that then fell out postpartum and is now growing back.

I have these new "wings" of "baby hair" especially noticeable (to me) on either side of my head. These wings of new hair just sprouted in the past few months. Thanks in part to the insanely curly nature of my hair, I didn't realize while pregnant that my hair was in fact getting thicker. Then I didn't realize I was losing more hair postpartum. Now, though, the evidence is pretty obvious, especially when I pull my hair back (which is why I'm trying to keep my hair down as much as possible).

3) My c-section scar is significantly less noticeable now, but it's only just beginning to get back to normal.

Prior to my c-section, I'd never had any kind of surgery. I'd never even had stitches. Having this huge red, bulging scar ripping across my lower abdominal region was making me pretty upset. Plus, my scarred region would hurt when I would lean over Natalie's crib or sometimes even when the air pressure would change. Now the pain is virtually gone (though when the weather changes I sometimes feel a twinge of discomfort) and the scar itself is closer to the color of the rest of my skin and it is hardly raised. No doubt this is just part of the natural healing process, but I also started applying BioOil to my scar around the 6-month-postpartum mark. I wish I had thought of this way sooner, but I'm glad I started using it regardless because I think it did speed up the healing process.

4) My boobs are smaller.

I didn't think this was possible, but it happened. After I stopped breastfeeding, my boobs didn't just get smaller compared to how they were while I was breastfeeding (they were fabulous, thank you very much). They became smaller than they were before I got pregnant. I had vaguely heard  from some other women that this could happen. And it did. Whatever. Twelve-year-old me would be upset, but after a year and a half spent as a temporarily well-endowed woman thanks to pregnancy and breastfeeding, I can at least say life is easier with smaller boobs.

That's it. Really. Not that bad. I knew pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding would mean a lot of sacrifice of my own body, and I was willing to do it, but I'm happy to say it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

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