The idea of your body bouncing back is a hope of most pregnant mama’s but the reality for most is very different. Current postpartum statistic show 1 in 3 women will experience incontinence after having a baby and 2 in 3 having abdominal separation. This would suggest a lot of women aren’t just bouncing back to their pre baby bodies.
There are reasons why the body can’t just bounce back for some even tho it can for others. The body changes so much throughout the journey of growing a baby and delivering them into the world. Here are some key things that are happening in your postpartum body that can be affecting your ability to ‘bounce back’
Some women will lose weight and struggle to keep it on whilst breastfeeding, but for many they will hold on to some ‘reserves’. Not only does the average women require approximately 500 extra calories during breastfeeding but our bodies are actually very clever, they are designed to build up our fat stores throughout pregnancy and then sometimes remain to assist in you becoming a milk making factory.
Sleep & Your Hormones…
Sleep is a key factor in weight loss for everyone not just postpartum mama’s. The amount of sleep that you get when it comes to weightless can be just as important as diet and exercise due to the impact is has on your hormones. Unfortunately for new mama’s looking after a newborn makes getting enough sleep almost impossible for most.
Lack of sleep messes with your insulin hormone and can make your cells insulin resistant. Insulin moves sugar from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. When the cells become resistant, this means more sugar stays in the blood stream and this increase of insulin makes you feel hungrier and also signals the brain to store more calories as fat.
Hunger is controlled by two hormones, the ‘hunger hormones’ Leptin & Ghrelin. Research has shown that sleeping less than 6 hours reduces leptin and stimulates ghrelin, leaving you hungrier and less satisfied resulting in eating more food than your body requires.
When your experiencing this lack of sleep it alters the way your brain works. Cortisol levels rise when you don’t sleep enough. Not only does cortisol unregulated the food reward centres in your brain that make you want to eat more food, but it can also inhibit the breakdown of fat for energy and increase the breakdown of muscle.
In terms of pelvic floor dysfunction and diastasis recti not improving a little hormone relaxin could be playing a role in this. We all know relaxin is produced to loosen up things to make room for baby and prepare the body for birth, but something not as know is that breastfeeding keeps that relaxin hormone in a women’s system until 3-6 months after your baby is weaned. This means that the connective tissues in your pelvis and abdomen may not be motivated to tighten up to their full potential until after you finish breastfeeding
Postpartum is hard for everybody (even the ones on social media who appear to bounce back) physically, emotionally and mentally, the expectations women put on themselves to get their old bodies or old live or old fitness back is unreasonable. You can mourn the past and choose to embrace what’s ahead… Let’s not bounce back but instead bounce forward!