My one year postpartum update, including recovery exercises, how we’re handling intimacy and thoughts on baby number two!
It seems crazy to me that it’s been a whole year since I gave birth. I thought seeing as you guys loved seeing my honest 6 month postpartum update, it would be a good idea to do a one year postpartum update too! Obviously every body is different and every person’s post-birth recovery is different, but I hope this post helps give you at least some idea of what to expect a year after birthing your tiny human.
The one thing I really want to get across before we dive in is that this isn’t specifically focusing on weight loss. I don’t believe in the ‘bounce-back’ mentality. I use nutrition as a way to feel good, not necessarily to lose the baby weight. Your body will always be a little bit different after you have a baby, I’m not sure it ever goes back to ‘normal’. But if anything, the changes in your body are just a reminder that you grew life inside you – and that’s AMAZING!
If you’re not familiar with what diastasis recti is, it’s basically when your abs separate during pregnancy. I think it happens to some degree to everyone, but if they don’t go back after baby is born it can sometimes take some intentional work to fix it. I only had a one or two finger wide gap mostly at the top, but if your abs haven’t gone back together after you’ve given birth I’d recommend speaking to a professional. It might be that you need to see a trainer who is experienced in postpartum recovery or even do some simple workouts online and breathing exercises. Check out the video above for some exercises that have really helped me, as well as these videos that I really enjoyed:
I got my period about 3 months after having Sage, even though I was exclusively breastfeeding. I do notice a slight dip in my milk supply during my time of the month but I think that happens to a lot of women from what I hear. It is different though! I have a much heavier flow these days, which I mentioned in my 15 Things That Change When You Become A Mom blog post.
As you know, when you have a baby (especially if you’ve given birth vaginally) your pelvic floor is in need of some repair and support. I remember one time when Sage had a poop explosion – hitting me clean in the face, might I add! – I started to pee a little bit because I was laughing. Then when Mr Matt noticed and asked me if I was peeing, the flood gates opened! So, I guess the moral of that story is if your pelvic floor is making you question what life is, I feel you! Again, I show some exercises that helped strengthen my pelvic floor in the video above. Keep doing your kegals (holding, pulses and holding while moving) and try this workout to specifically target the pelvic floor.
We talk about this every now and again. We do want another baby, but it’s trying to find that ‘perfect time’ – not that the perfect time really exists! One of my goals this year is to feel stronger and more confident as a person and mother. I also want to get into more strength training, focusing on my core strength and pelvic floor and all the things that get stretched out when you’re pregnant! Hopefully by the time we’re ready for another baby I’ll be in a good place physically and mentally.
A really important thing to remember when exercising post-birth, is that just because something is considered a ‘postpartum safe’ exercise, you still need to be careful. If something hurts, you’re probably not there yet. Just because someone else can do it, doesn’t mean it’s right for your body just yet. If you push yourself it’s going to do more harm to your body than good, especially if you’re not doing it right. Make sure you’re breathing through all your moves, and you probably want to avoid any jumping moves to begin with because your body will still have high levels of relaxin in it, which can lead to injury.
After having Sage, once it was safe for me to do so, the majority of my exercise postpartum was walking. I then did one training workout a week with my friend Laura, who is a pre and post-natal fitness coach. If you’re looking for some postpartum workout resources, these are my faves:
My favourite postpartum friendly exercises are…
I talk a lot about our sleep journey in this blog post, but basically we had the newborn stage waking up every couple of hours, and then we had a kind of ‘honeymoon’ phase. This was where Sage was sleeping really great, and I thought I had the most amazing sleeper. Then all of a sudden the four month sleep regression kicked in, and I think that was harder to deal with than the newborn stage. I’d make sure to have naps, rested when I could, and if Sage fell asleep on me I’d just embrace it. Lilbabysleep on Instagram is a great resource that really helped me.
It’s so important to look after your mental health, especially when you’re a mom. Hormones, sleep deprivation and just the huge change your life has gone through can all mess with your emotions. One of the hardest things for me besides navigating being a new mom and getting used to that life, has been growing and raising a child during the pandemic. It means I’ve had to grieve a lot of things I’ve missed out on, like no mommy groups, no play dates and minimal family gatherings.
I recommend getting outside as much as possible. Connecting with other moms virtually if that’s all that’s available to you. There’s something about being outside in nature that is so healing, and Sage would always have the best naps outside. Meditation also really helps to feel good mentally. Do what you need to do to feel good, whether it’s a bath or a walk on your own listening to a podcast, and don’t forget to support your partner to do what they need to do to feel good.
I don’t talk a whole lot about weight, mainly because I prefer to focus on feeling good as opposed to numbers. But I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my postpartum weight loss, so figured I’d chat about it a little bit here. Please remember, this is just me! Do not compare yourself, because your body will be different to mine. Also remember that muscle weighs more than fat (as do big milk filled breasts!) so focusing on the numbers on the scale isn’t always the best thing to do if you’re looking to be healthy overall.
I lost about 20 pounds after I gave birth, and then was left with about 10 extra pounds that just stuck around. That’s totally normal, and it’s also normal to have more than that. It took me about 6 months to lose that extra 10 pounds. My focus was definitely on fuelling my body with wholesome home-cooked food so that I could produce enough milk for Sage. Breastfeeding does help to some extent, because you’re burning more calories. But that being said I was definitely eating more because breastfeeding makes you super hungry, and if you don’t eat those extra calories you’re going to struggle with milk supply.
Wondering what I eat on a regular basis to stay healthy? These meals are my absolute go-to’s. I always have the ingredients for these meals in my pantry and fridge, and can whip them up easily and quickly.
I was super lucky and didn’t get any stretch marks. I think it’s somewhat out of your control, but I did make my own belly oil which I used religiously. Loose skin, however, I did get on both my breasts and my belly. Again, it’s super normal, and I imagine it will only get more so each time you have a baby.
I felt ready for intimacy pretty soon after giving birth, but having said that I didn’t tear on my perineum. I did a lot of perineal stretching, which I talk about in my How To Prepare For An Unmedicated Birth blog post. I’m sure if I had torn it would have been much more painful and that would have made a huge difference. If you tore, don’t be hard on yourself! And even if you didn’t tear, you might not feel ready for intimacy for a while and that’s okay!
I honestly feel like it took a good year after having Sage to start feeling like myself. Once she was sleeping through the night, I definitely did feel more sane, but to actually feel like me it took a good year. Once Sage was a year old we were in a good routine, I was finding time to look after myself and my mental and physical health, and I was getting good sleep. It does still change every day though, and it’s still hard to find a good balance.
Do you have any top postpartum tips? Leave them in the comments below to help out other moms-to-be!