December 20, 2012

Pregnancy and my body: gains and losses

two weeks postpartum

Over the course of my 39 weeks of pregnancy I gained 33 lbs. The weight distributed all over my body but of course concentrated most in my stomach. The total was more than I had hoped to gain because I didn't start off especially small. But I followed my body's cues with regard to eating and tried my best to eat healthily.

three weeks postpartum

At a visit to my dermatologist to discuss postpartum skincare, 2.5 weeks after birth, I had lost 27.5 of the pounds I had gained. I feel pretty pleased by this though I don't know what is normal or abnormal. I also began pregnancy in the thick of cake season* during which I was about 10 lbs heavier than my preferred weight. So if I am keeping track, I have about five pregnant lbs and ten cake season lbs left to shed. Breastfeeding has helped me so far. I have read that the final lbs linger on breastfeeding moms because the body keeps them as a makeshift insurance policy (i.e. in the event that I no longer had access to food, the additional weight would allow me to still produce for my child). Realistically, my inability to go to the gym for another 5-6 weeks will inhibit my level of fitness, regardless of what the scale says.

Back in September, I packed away my favorite fall and winter clothes, anticipating that I would not be able to fit into them for another year or so. I've dug through them this week to see what already fits while still being nursing-friendly. No matter what, I am still wearing my maternity pants because they are so darn comfy and the stretchy band at the top feels supportive over my tender abdomen.

Speaking of my abdomen and recovery, while in the hospital I was given a belly binder to help provide counter pressure over my incision. That did really help for the first week after birth. When I shed the bulk of the retained water my medical binder became too large and too stretched out to bind so I turned to the commercial binders a friend had sent me as generous hand-me-downs in anticipation of my birth. I ultimately purchased a Squeem which gives me much more intense support.

I am not sleeping in the binder anymore but I try to wear it for at least a few hours every day. When I sneeze, belly laugh, or cough my incision aches so the binder is useful for extra support. If I catch the pain-inducing action in time, I press my hands up against my abdomen which helps offer much needed counter pressure.

The other major body change is my bust. I am still trying to find supportive nursing bras though I bought a molded cup one from Target as a quick fix. I hate the added bulk of molded cups so I eventually took a chance on this La Leche League bra. It is a little big in the cups when I'm not full but it allows room for my breast pads. When I am feeling mobile post holiday madness, I am going to revisit Judy at A Mother's Boutique for a fitting and breastfeeding-friendly supplies. I intended to get there before birth but birth came early.

I have driven twice since surgery. Once to parallel park my mom's car on my street. And once for about 20 minutes on the way home from my mom's family's holiday party. I found that on the lengthier drive, my incision pain felt most intense while using the gas or break pedal over bumps or potholes. With this knowledge I will avoid certain streets in dire need of paving. I have gone to Target with baby (thanks to the help of my mom and sister) and a restaurant (Mad Mex where one of my mothers-in-law was having a bday party). But I didn't drive in either case.

Despite my soreness, I am pretty amazed by the body's resilience. Gestating, laboring, and undergoing major surgery have certainly changed some aspects of my physical self permanently. But a lot of things feel normal. My heartburn is gone. My need to pee a zillion times a night went with it. My back and pelvic girdle pain have subsided. I don't have sciatica anymore. My feet are almost back to normal (though not quite). And my waist is visible again. I do still have relatively clear skin which will change once my cycle returns. But considering the immense changes I experienced, my body almost feels like mine.

*cake season marks the time of year between February and April when Chris and I celebrate our birthdays and eat a lot of cake. 

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