Stop Telling Women They Can "Bounce Back" Post-Pregnancy
I’ve been a mom for almost six years now and a trainer for nearly a decade. In that time, I have seen fit pros, fitness and lifestyle bloggers, social media fitness gurus, magazines, and celebrities proudly glamorizing the “bounce back” post-pregnancy.
I can’t begin to tell you the strange and downright crazy claims can be. Targeting women who have just had babies, telling them they can have the exact same incredible results as they’ve achieved in such a short period. This is also extremely irresponsible of any trained and qualified fitness professional with any experience training prenatal and postpartum women.
Flashing A Fit Body With Great Abs Soon After Birth Isn’t Motivating or Inspirational To Anyone.
Blaming and shaming moms. Sending the message that moms need to be committed to their healthy lifestyle while having the challenging task of raising children, working, taking care of a house, and the various demands in their lives.
And if they don’t, they don’t care about themselves, they’re downright lazy and lack self-disciple.
Pregnancy is a lot of work. Postpartum recovery and caring for a newborn is a lot of work. Whether you’ve had one baby or three, sometimes fitness, nutrition, and weight/fat-loss take a back seat. That’s ok. Recovering from childbirth is a physical and emotional process that needs to be taken seriously.
Sometimes fitness, nutrition, and weight/fat-loss is the top priority. That’s okay too.
I had worked really hard to "bounce back" post-pregnancy. I was training for 2 hours a day plus on an extemely restrictive diet. My life revolved around exercise and cheat days.I was never able to maintain this. This is far from bouncing back.
Whether You Bounce Back Or Not, It Doesn’t Define You
Sure, fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes is great. But what if you’re in no rush? Or you don’t want to sacrifice family time? Or you want to get an extra hour of sleep instead of getting up and rushing out to the gym for that 6 am class?
I’m a mom of three and I’m ten weeks postpartum with my youngest, trying to live in balance. In the past, I’m guilty of wanting to bounce back because that’s what I thought you did when you’re fit and healthy. That’s what I thought a healthy lifestyle was.
There were times where I’d be wide awake at 3 am, head to the gym for 7 am, then be awake for the entire day doing my thing as mom. My life was like this for about a year and a half. This was normal behavior.
Just a week before the birth of my third baby. I was physically active through most of my pregnancy and ate as well as I could. I gained about 60 pounds.
Me at 12 weeks postpartum. I was fit and strong before and during pregnancy but my body still hasn't returned to its pre-pregnancy shape. And Tassa Steals the show again!
The real eye-opener was when I hadn’t slept for over 36 hours and tried to call into work, being awake from more than 24 hours was a regular thing for me and I'd push through because I had no choice. Normally, this would be a simple process but they couldn’t get anyone to cover for me and it was apparently my responsibility to come in, even if I had a doctors note. I was working at the front desk at a big box gym while on my maternity leave as a trainer at the time. I won’t get into the details now, but I no longer work there.
I was also experiencing some health complications at the time and combine all of that with my obsession with having the perfect body as well as living my life like a wellness blogger, it became too much. I was burnt out.
I had booked an appointment with my doctor. I sat explained everything had going on over the past year. Feeling, exhausted, defeated, and pretty beat up, I was no longer functioning. I needed to make a change.
In my Post-Baby Fitness Guide, I break down exactly what you need to find fitness and balance. You will learn simple and actionable steps to maximize your core and pelvic floor function. You’ll improve performance and avoid the complications that can arise from postnatal exercising. Download the free guide here.
There it was, I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression. To read about my experience with Postpartum Deression, click here
After years of shaming myself into this image of a fit mom who bounced back post-pregnancy, it was just too much. Too much following “fitsporational moms” with perfectly crafted bodies, too much trying to follow the most optimal nutrition plan too much of living in my own thoughts of never feeling good enough.
“Bouncing Back” Post-Pregnancy Is A Dangerous Message To Women.
The message that women can bounce back post-pregnancy isn’t an empowering one. Telling them that they can compete in high impact competitions at two weeks postpartum (that actually happened), break their personal record after a few short months, or run marathons as soon as they’re cleared by their doctors is downright dangerous.
You would never say "you are going to bounce right back because you were well conditioned, fit and strong" to a pro athlete who has been through a life altering event like an injury, so why is this being said to pregnancy and postpartum women?
The risks can be much greater than the rewards for these women, yet they’re being praised for “bouncing back”
We all need time to adapt to life with a new baby and let go of the pressures of perfection. You are a beautiful woman. You are great and you don’t need to be stressed out by trying “bounce back” to matter to anyone.
The truth is you don’t have to workout every single day, eat nothing but chicken and spinach while making “guilt-free” versions of all of your favourite foods. It’s about finding what works for you where you’re at currently at. If all you can do is make it out for a twenty-minute walk, awesome! If you need to grab some drive thru a couple times because you’re too tired to prepare something from scratch, then do it!
There Is No Shame In Skipping Workouts and Eating A Burger With Fries
At this point, I’m training when my life permits and my body allows. If I need to rest, I take a rest day and if I want to eat chocolate cake, I eat a real chocolate cake without guilt.
Bouncing back after my third baby hasn’t been a priority and it feels pretty darn good. It’s more important to be in a place of well than it is to have perfectly flat abs or a perfectly toned body. My training focus has been rest, recovery and rehab. Everything else will come later. And for the record, I haven’t dropped one pound since my son’s birth either.
Some women reach their fitness goals and lose weight fast than others, either way, it's okay. All bodies respond to pregnancy, birth and postpartum changes differently. Regardless of how your body looks in this moment, remember that it did something pretty incredible byt growing a human and that's serious work!
Love your baby body,