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The Postpartum Comparison Game

5 tips on how NOT to let social media impact your postpartum fitness routine.

The Postpartum Comparison Game

A few years ago, a California mom of three caused an uproar among mothers and the general public when she posted a photo of herself on Instagram only 8 months postpartum with a very toned mid-section, asking others “What’s your excuse?”

Following the negative backlash, she released a statement telling women that if they interpreted her picture as judgement or hybris it was in fact their own problem. While she was willing to apologize for how it was perceived, she was not willing to apologize for how she looked; she was just a hard-working mother that practiced consistency, discipline and persistence.

Unfortunately with social media being omnipresent, it is hard not to notice the increased documentation of baby bump journeys and postpartum fitness regimens. While most of it is in the spirit of sharing one’s own story, it’s typically only the fastest, most impressive mamas who are sharing. So it’s no surprise that the rest of us, mere mortals, feel like we need to rebound from pregnancy weight-gain just as quickly.

The danger is that women attempt their own version of an accelerated postpartum journey, and they can risk injuring themselves. As a specialist in prenatal and postpartum training, I have been contacted about postpartum training within 9 days of delivery. I have seen mothers start running too soon after delivering. I have seen mothers trying to get their core back with exercises that can cause long-standing health issues such as diastasis recti . I have been told by mothers that they would like to look like a certain celebrity postpartum. And I’ve seen women limit their food intake to a caloric deficit that sent their body into starvation mode, risking losing their ability to nurse their babies.

I understand you want to get rid of that baby weight. And the best place to start is during pregnancy. I preach to women to make sure that they are fit going into their pregnancy and to stay as active as possible during (barring any pregnancy complications) to set a great basis for postpartum recovery and weight-loss.

The fastest postpartum weight-loss that I have witnessed was a combination of keeping up a workout regime during pregnancy (well into the third trimester), a disciplined approach to the postpartum recovery, and consistency in nutrition and training after the health provider gave the green light to resume exercising. Within that, women needed a big amount of laissez- faire dealing with sleepless nights, setbacks in their journey, physical complications and the reality of time constraints.

So what can you do when you see pregnancies and postpartum recoveries that seem too good to be true?

  1. Dig a little deeper into the woman’s circumstances before she was pregnant. The smallest pregnancies are often seen on women that were previously incredibly fit and small or who work in the fitness industry.
  2. Comment by asking questions. Social media for moms should be a community to exchange information and empower one another instead of tearing each other down and comparing bodies.
  3. Make a plan for yourself and find friends ‘IRL’ who will hold you accountable to go for a 30 minute walk each day, attend a yoga class together or sign up on myfitnesspal as a group to track healthy nutrition.
  4. Hire an expert. There are conditions, such as severe diastasis recti, that you cannot conquer yourself. With the help of a licensed trainer, you can address those while working on getting fitter and stronger postpartum.
  5. Go offline. If you find that it winds you up and you get feelings of anger, jealousy, resentment and ultimately turning on yourself, stop looking at Instagram photos for a while and focus on the wonder that your body is creating or has recently undergone. Carrying and delivering a healthy baby.

As usual, share your thoughts and comments below and on social media to let us know how you felt about your pregnancy and postpartum journey.

 

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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