7 month postbaby progress report Part I

Me and The Ape

Me and The Ape

Yep - it's been seven months now since I delivered a new life into this world.

And, to my delight, these seven months have been awesome.

So awesome in fact, that I started two new businesses (one a local fitness bootcamp and two an online women's group which is still in progress).

I've really been blessed. April (my daughter) has turned out to be an incredible baby. Sure, she has her moments of fussiness, crabiness, and just general baby-ness, but those times are much less than her usual demeanor of smiles, happiness (see picture above) and an amazing ability to entertain herself while I'm working.

You see, before conceiving April, I had just finished 12 long years in school which included a PhD, a dietetic internship and a RD exam, a MS, and writing two books. After I was done all that, I just wasn't sure what I was going to do with myself.

At first, I thought I'd go the traditional PhD route and do a post-doc, but that just didn't seem right. And, due to the fact that I was newly pregnant, I wasn't sure the stress of a post-doc was what I really wanted.

So, I started teaching fitness classes at a gym, a town rec department, and a local corporation, writing online and print articles and taking more online clients. I also worked at an alternative health clinic part-time (and still do today). I did this all while I was pregnant and loved it.

After having April I was still contemplating doing the post doc thing, but just couldn't bear to work away from home so much and have someone else raise my child.

Thus, I decided to open my own bootcamp business which I teach very early morning (5am) and in the evenings. This way I stay home with April (she's actually on my lap right now as I type this) during the day and work on articles and other projects. Her Dad is home in the morning and my neighbor watches her in the evening before Dad gets home. Unfortunately I don't have any family near me to help out with April, but my neighbor across the street (who also has two girls and stays home) has been very helpful.

I also still work outside of the home some days at the clinic, but it gives April a day away from mommy and my tap-tap-tapping of the computer keys.

I'll admit, I don't get nearly as much done with April at home with me that I would if she was with someone else (for example,while writing this, I had to dance with her a few times and sing a few songs).  But, I love it and wouldn't have it any other way. And, I've been really successful thus far.

Compared to other countries, like my home country of Canada, new moms are expected to return to work full time after just 6 weeks in some cases. In the rest of the world, women are given at least a year away from work paid by their governments to raise their own children. This was another reason I just couldn't be away from my kid so soon.

However, on to the post-baby progress report.

Since this post is getting a bit a long right now, I'm going to split it into two parts. I'll continue with the second part tomorrow.

Today I'm going to talk breastfeeding, exercise and body compostion.

1. Breast Feeding

It's been 7 months, and I've luckily been able to breast feed the entire time. I owe this to the fact that I haven't had to be away from her during the day for work or other commitments as much as most American mothers have to be.

Right from the beginning breast feeding went great, but for some of my other mommy friends this wasn't the case. For my friends, many of them worried they wouldn't be able to breast feed, and as such, that stress made it hard for them to produce enough milk. In their case they had to supplement with formula or turn completely to formula to meet their child's needs.

Not that formula is horrible though. I was a formula fed baby because I was adopted, and I think I turned out ok :) But, there are benefits to breast milk that formula doesn't offer, so I'm glad April is getting that instead.

I must say, breastfeeding has been challenging in it's own way. For example, in order for me to teach my fitness classes, I used to always have to pump right before I left to teach otherwise I feared the whole "wet t-shirt" fear and "explosion" fear that some breast feeding moms have to contend with.

Now though that April is moving onto solids, she feeds less from mom and more from foods like fruits, veggies, eggs, and of course, Cheerios :) (who doesn't love Cheerios?). (and, yes, I do feed my kid eggs and she loves them)

If I had to go back to work full time I'm sure that I wouldn't be saying the same thing about breastfeeding as on some of the days I did have to work away from home all day, I'd forget to pump or just didn't have time to do so. My other friends back at work have the same issues and some have turned to formula because they can't keep up.

Overall, if you can breasfeed, do it. It's hard sometimes when you feel like you have a kid tied to your boob all day long, but in the end it's worth it. A good bonding experience and a nice way to feel good about what your body was made to do.


2. Exercise

I got so much crap from people because of how much and how hard I exercised while I was pregnant, but I'd like to point out that my kid is amazing and has no issues whatsoever. She's in fact very lean and strong and quite smart. She's also calm, thoughtful and sleeps great at night. So, apparently working out while pregnant didn't harm her at all, and in fact, it probably made her more content and healthy (never really been sick and is usually always happy).

Now, I still exercise as much as I can, but there are times that it's just not possible because she needs her nap or she's not being co-operative. So, I tell all newly pregnant women this: Exercise as much as you can now because there are going to be plently of moments when you just can't because you have a baby to take care of.

As far as energy and recovery from exercise, I have two things going on: I do have a lot of energy to exercise and be motivating to my clients in my fitness classes, but... my recovery from exercise is awful. I'm SO sore sometimes after a workout that I just can't exercise hard the next day or two sometimes. I try, but it just doesn't happen.

It's not that I'm undereating, because I definitely eat a ton of food, and it's not that I'm not practicing proper post-workout nutrition. I just think most of my recovery proteins, hormones, etc are going out my boobs (sorry to put it so bluntly, but I think it's true).

And, my hormonal profile is just different now that I'm breastfeeding, so that's gotta play into this whole recovery process. I know my testosterone levels are much, much lower and my estradiol and progesterone are just weird.

One of my good friends who also exercises like a maniac like me, and has had two children told me that it takes a year to feel normal again after having a baby if you're breastfeeding. So... I'm counting down these next 5 months to feel normal again. Being so sore after exercising is just not fun.

Overall though, my strength and stamina is all back on track. Just waiting for the recovery to pick back up again.


3. Body Composition

Well, as far as body weight goes, I'm actually weighing less now than I did before I got pregnant last year.

But, as far as body comp goes, I did get a DEXA done and I'm carrying around another % body fat compared to last year. Not too bad, but I really want to cut out some more body fat and get leaner.

And, there is that tummy fat. Many women told me that your body hangs onto some extra tummy fat while breastfeeding, and I'd have to agree with them. My tummy is not quite as flat as it used to be. It's not bad, but it's not flat.

But, I'm happy with my body the way it is and considering that I don't always get to exercise because I'm with baby, and that I have an appetite like an elephant... I'm feeling pretty good about myself and how I look.

In fact, whenever I tell other women that I have a 7 month old daughter they say to me: "You just had a baby 7 months ago??? You look amazing!"

So, I guess it's not that bad.


Alright, part two is coming tomorrow where I'll talk about food, post-pregnancy food cravings, mommy brain and more.



Comments appreciated :)




Posted Nov 03, 2010 by .

Comments for This Entry

GravatarSarah03:59PM on November 03, 2010

April is so cute!!! I'm glad you're enjoying motherhood. (And I'm glad you're breastfeeding, and feeding her real food instead of baby cereal :-) ) One piece of advice - don't wean at a year just because that's "normal" - there is no better tool for soothing a pre-verbal or irrational toddler than a nice comfy boob - and when April starts walking, there will be bumps and bruises that need it! It is so totally worth it to keep nursing. Yes, even worth the slightly saggy tummy! (That will go away gradually no matter when you wean.) I had troubles breastfeeding but sorted it out in the end, and while the cuddles and nutrition were great, the best part was having a way to incite a nap or stop crying instantly until my daughter weaned herself. Boobs of POWERRRRR!!!!! heh. (Also, the WHO and a bunch of pediatric medical organizations recommend nursing until 2. What's the point in stopping nursing when you then have to give her cow's milk? People milk works better.)

Ok, soapbox over. Congrats on your gorgeous baby, enjoy ever bit of her!

GravatarCassandra05:43PM on November 03, 2010

Thanks Sarah!
That's awesome advice! I need to do more reading on breastfeeding past a year since most books just say stop after then. But, like you said: Boobs are POWER! I love it! Thanks so much!

GravatarJill12:50PM on November 05, 2010

Hi Cassandra! Enjoy your blog : ) I breastfed my daughter until around 23 months and I agree with Sarah's comments. She is 3 1/2 now and it is kind of cool that she actually remembers that time together. We actually joke about it alot! I definitely would get frustrated from time to time bc truly my body was just off (a semi-pregnant state as a friend of mine once said) until probably a few months until after she completely weaned. But it was a great experience for both of us. The only other piece of advice I would add is to just stay in tune to yourself and April and just wean when the time feels right. No book will understand the unique relationship between you and your daughter. If you like the bonding that it brings you go with it, if it starts to feel like a chore and you just want your body back, then don't feel bad about stopping! I look forward to learning about the online group you are starting.

GravatarCassandra05:30PM on November 05, 2010

Thank you Jill! I really appreciate your advice!
I'll keep you updated about the womens group - it's coming VERY soon! And, with some other VERY cool ladies!

GravatarDarah09:28AM on November 10, 2010

Great work, you sound like an excellent mother. I ditto the above comments about weaning......April will know when she's ready. My first son weaned himself when he was ready around 2, and my second weaned himself closer to 1 year old. Although older babies are getting some nutrition from whole foods, the benefits of breastmilk continue......studies have shown that the nutritional composition of breastmilk (fats, carbs, proteins, etc....) change over time in relation to what your baby requires at that age. I found my sons rarely got sick while nursing thanks to all the antibodies my body produced for them. Research in this area has found that the antibodies in your milk change very rapidly based on what germs you're exposed to in the environment. If breastfeeding has been special to you, be prepared for when it does end....it was a sad but inevitable event for me. My sons both remember nursing and speak of it very fondly (they are now 4.5 and 2.5 years).

GravatarCassandra10:27AM on November 12, 2010

Darrah, I really appreciate your comments. There's a lot to think about. I've been telling myself that when April turns 1, I'll wean, but I guess I'm now going to just let her tell me what she wants. Thank you so much for your insight. :)

GravatarRebecca Mikulin11:47PM on January 04, 2011

It is so great to read about your experiences with exercising after baby -- it helps keep me from getting too frustrated :). I'm only a month past delivering my daughter, who is my second. After my son was born I was severely anemic and didn't even try to exercise much until he was almost a year old, but my life has changed a lot and I exercised much more with this little girl, and have a lot more desire to get back to exercising. I still have two weeks before the doctor will clear me for an "organized exercise program," but even the little I'm allowed to do tends to leave me sore and tired.

On the sore days, I've been trying to focus on simple things like triceps exercises, stationary quad sets, and other easy exercises that I can even do while nursing. I've found that a lot of the recommended "office exercises" like the ones to help people keep up tone and circulation from a desk work well for the days body or baby just won't cooperate. It may not be much, but it does make me feel better, and has to be better than not doing anything!

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