Your Post-Baby Body: Taming Expectations
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Jessica Simpson has been all over the news this past week. As the mother of 4-month old Maxwell Drew, Simpson revealed to USA Today that she “ate what she wanted while pregnant, and indulged in anything and everything including mac and cheese”–something she reportedly hasn’t touched since joining Weight Watchers (she’s a current spokesperson). Today she’ll be Katie Couric’s new show, Katie, to continue the conversation.
While Simpson hasn’t said how much weight she gained–is it really our business, anyway?!–the 32 year-old says she’s eating less, regularly working out with a trainer, and losing weight each week.
As reported in USA Today–and mentioned on the Today Show and other TV programs–Simpson has also said she’s no supermodel. “My body is not bouncing back like a supermodel. I’m just your everyday woman who is trying to feel good and be healthy for her daughter, her fiancé and herself.” As a registered dietitian and mother of two boys, I applaud Simpson for her honesty and relatability as she admits to her current struggle.
I won’t be a cynic by saying Simpson is telling all (or almost all!) to make her future success (which no doubt includes getting into a bikini–and perhaps doing so in a Weight Watcher commercial) that much more noteworthy. I do sense a genuine and authentic spirit in her plight. But let’s be honest– Simpson, a successful fashion designer and singer, is one of the lucky ones. She can afford to get help to get her body back. She’s being paid to follow and represent a reputable commercial weight loss program, and she reportedly works out with a celebrity trainer several times a week. Yes–she is more fortunate than most women post-pregnancy who have minimal or no help to get their bodies back. But to Simpson’s credit, no one can or should take full responsibility for her getting back into shape–after all, she’ll have to work at it like all of us, and she has already started.
Because Simpson is in the public eye, she may feel even more pressure than most to look good–and fast!–after having her baby. Remember how hard many were on her when she appeared in so-called “Mom jeans”–she spoke out then, and now speaks out again. Like most women, I’d be surprised if Simpson didn’t take all the negativity and criticism to heart. I know I would have.
Hopefully, Simpson can be a role model for those who want to get healthy and get back in shape after having a baby. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll inspire other women to not be so hard on themselves in the process.
When I had my babies, about 14 and 10 years ago, respectively (yikes!), I had gained between 25-27 or so pounds with each. I breast fed both of my sons for 6 months, and it took me about that long to lose all the weight the first time and nearly double that the second time around. Did I feel pressure to lose the weight? I did miss my pre-baby body, but I knew that I would take care of myself by trying to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. I ultimately lost all the weight–and even a few pounds more–and have successfully maintained that weight loss for several years. My body is not the same as it was before having babies, but I would never trade in my boys–the best gifts in the world!–for perkier parts (if you know what I mean).
Several Facebook friends were kind enough to share their thoughts on having babies and body weight–check out what they had to say and weigh in right here.
If you’re a new mom out there, my best advice to you is to not pressure yourself to lose weight too quickly–especially if you’re breast feeding. You need extra calories to make milk and stay energized. Try to eat the best you can, and aim for a balanced diet with plenty of healthful, wholesome foods.
Incidentally, a while back I created a healthy get-your-body-back plan for new moms for Parents Magazine for women who are at least 6 weeks post-partum. Check it out!
Please remember that as a new mom, hormones and lack of sleep contribute to how you feel–and sometimes you will feel badly about or be hard on yourself. Try to cut yourself some slack and not compare yourself to others–and be thankful to have a new baby to nurture and love. And sad as it may be for us in our thin-obsessed culture, when it comes to the human body, some women bounce back more easily than others. And some may never fully bounce back to where they were before they had a baby. It’s important to let the chips fall where they may and to take it one day at a time after having a baby. Try to get as much rest as much as possible, drink plenty of fluids, and most importantly, ask for help when you need it. And try to stay active and fit–#moveitorloseit, as I like to say–as often as possible. Walking is a free and effective activity that can easily be worked into your day both with and without your baby stroller in tow.
With time, and with a little nurturing, you’ll find that you’ll lose the weight. You may never have the exact same body you had before baby, BUT would you want to if that meant not having your baby? I doubt you would!
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