The Postpartum Honeymoon

Do women, particularly those with active or recovered eating disorders, feel greater or less push to “get their bodies back” post pregnancy.

Surprisingly, research and survey tell us, women w/ history of ED experience a “honeymoon phase” with their bodies postpartum. They are less inclined to stress over their bodies & immediately begin ‘physique recovery’ tactics. How cool are our bodies natural responses to carrying and delivering life!

I can attest to this honeymoon phase as I’m sure many woman can. For 9 long months your body grows… and grows. Right before delivery your abdominal girth is great before suddenly, it is gone. It is soft, saggy, feels like fluffy pizza dough, and is substantially smaller than that glorious full term belly. Every woman’s response to the appearance of her postpartum body is different, but we cannot deny the feeling (not necessarily appearance) of going from larger abdominal girth to smaller literally overnight.

I remember stopping by the grocery store on our way home from the hospital with my first born {totally normal thing to do 😂}. I ran in quickly while my husband and fresh babe waited in the car. In the checkout line the person behind me pushed their cart forward without realizing my presence, which caused me to move forward, fitting into a small space. My stomach pushed forcefully against the counter and in a cry of mild pain I blurted out, “I just had a baby two days ago.” The cashier was oblivious to the cart pushing and in an attempt to respond to my apparently random info sharing, she said “oh you’ll lose that belly quickly.” I remember thinking “what belly?” After my son was born, the honeymoon phase I experienced w/ my body was real. I left the hospital in a tight black tank top and some Nike tennis skirt {no, I have never played tennis a day in my life} 🤣 and I felt like a million bucks in my ‘new’ bod. I look back at pictures now and visibly see my doughy pouch and laugh – I did not see it on myself at the time the photos were taken. Surprising for this recovered ED perfectionist.

Unfortunately pervasive diet culture and pressures from society and the media has any woman, ED or not, feeling as though she must immediately begin ‘physique recovery’ postpartum. We essentially have been trained to ignore our bodies natural “honeymoon phase” postpartum. Women begin engaging manipulations on food, intakes, & exercise soon after delivery OR they decide their now unrecognizable, changed body would require too much effort to “fix” so they engage a “throw in the towel” mentality which may include bingeing highly palatable easy convenience foods and avoiding physical activity.

These photos are taken at 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks postpartum. I share these photos as a testimony to how our bodies respond when they are fed, cared for, and allowed to maintain their individual homeostasis without overt, harsh manipulation thru diets, exercise, etc. During pregnancy, I ate well, honored cravings in portions that made me feel good, and remained physically active within my body’s abilities up to the day of delivery. I have eaten ice cream or some sort of dessert daily since delivery {breastfeeding cravings are no joke}, my usual intake has been rich in quality proteins, micronutrients, fiber, and water for hydration, and my activity level has been less than normal exercise for recovery but has included, chasing a toddler, marathon nursing sessions, and walks. My weight has not actually changed at all from photos 2-4. {testimony to scales & weight being poor indicators of health/body composition/size}.

I recognize such photos may be triggering for some. My body’s physical appearance is one of privelage as well as MINE. It is similar to my pre-pregnancy body which is a body that has been allowed to find its individual homeostasis. It’s a body that is larger than some and smaller than others. The point is not my personal physique but the natural response of a postpartum body without harsh manipulation to “bounce back.” It is not a keto- body or a whole 30 body or a supplement fueled body. It’s just a body that has been intuitively nourished and exercised.

No one’s postpartum recovery or physique is identical, but encouragement that translates to all women is this – your postpartum {or not} body is not an enemy that you must treat harshly or give up on because it does not look how you would like. Your body does not NEED your efforts at a postpartum ‘bounce back’ OR to have you “throw in the towel” because you feel the doughy belly, stretch marks, cellulite, extra weight you may be carrying are too much for you to “combat.” Your body needs you to feed it, as often as it let’s you know it’s hungry. It needs the food you eat to provide energy, antioxidants, fiber, satiety, fat, and satisfaction mentally, emotionally, and physically. Embrace your amazing postpartum body, silence the noise of outside pressures and allow yourself to ride that postpartum honeymoon phase as long as it lasts. Do not sacrifice one moment of sweet baby snuggles or spend any mental energy on diets or self-deprecating body noise.


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