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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.

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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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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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