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When I was pregnant with my first child, I had many preconceived notions about “postpartum life.”

I had a vague idea about how life would change. But I intended to work the baby into MY life.

I knew I’d be tired, but there was no way I could even begin to comprehend what exactly I was in store for. I knew my body would probably be a little different. But if you work hard enough, I thought, your body didn’t have to change just because you were a mom.

Secretly, somewhat smugly, I judged moms that I saw juggling screaming, misbehaved children. MY kids would be well-behaved little adults...They wouldn’t eat junk food. They wouldn’t watch tv! I knew a bit about postpartum depression. I knew breastfeeding was hard for some. But these seemed like distant impossibilities. I was a happy, sound-minded person - I wouldn’t be sad! Especially not with a cute, fun little baby to play with! I was going to breastfeed.

No question about it!

Looking back now, almost two years later, pregnant with my second child, I realize how naive I was…how my world was about to be rocked in a way I never expected. The truth is this: having a baby is really and truly the most incredible, beautiful, wonderful, happiest thing in the world. I feel so blessed to have my son, to have been able to birth him, and to be able to raise him. But here is another truth: having a baby changes everything…

EVERYTHING.

In amazing, good, hard, scary, challenging ways.

Things you assume before having a child will be flipped, whirled, and turned upside down.

You will look back on what you thought postpartum life was going to be like and you will laugh. But then again, how could you have known? We all have the very best of intentions.

The truth about life after having a baby is that you won't sleep for longer than two or three hours at a time for weeks on end. Maybe even months. In fact, sometimes getting two consecutive hours of sleep will feel like the most precious gift.

You will experience a level of exhaustion that you didn’t know was possible.

Your body will change more than you think and in ways that you didn’t even consider. It’s not all a matter of how hard you work to “get your body back”…some things just never go back to the way they were before you grew and birthed a human being.

And that’s ok. It is SO SO very ok.

You may have stretch marks (I do!), and loose skin, at least in the beginning. You may never feel comfortable in a bikini again…that’s fine! You’ll still look six months pregnant for a week or so after giving birth until things go back where they should be. You’ll be sore after giving birth. Your boobs will leak. And speaking of boobs, breastfeeding IS hard. In fact, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t producing enough milk for my son and after two months we had to switch entirely over to formula. I was devastated by this. But you know what? He’s fine!

You’ll feel sad at times…yes, even despite having a cute, fun little baby to play with. You’ll feel sad, lost, and scared even when you know you shouldn’t. Trust me; every mama does at some point.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean you have postpartum depression, but if you DO, that’s ok. It’s ok to need help. It’s ok to not feel ok, and it’s ok to talk to people about how you’re feeling.

You’ll be so absolutely consumed by and in love with your baby that it will feel like the air has been knocked from your lungs time and time again. It’s a love you’ve never felt before. You’ll worry about that child with an intensity and a ferocity that will stun you, and you’ll experience anxiety that will never fully go away. Your life will change to accommodate that child. And yes, you’ll find ways to fit the baby into your world…but more likely you’ll find yourself navigating this strange new terrain for the first time WITH your baby. You will create a new world together.

Postpartum life is hard. It’s so hard. But you know what else it is? It’s full of a love that is so overwhelming and beautiful that you will not be able to remember how you ever existed before it. It’s full of late nights, rocking your baby and forming a bond that can never be broken. It’s about going through a transformation…becoming a new person…a MOTHER. It’s going through an incredible, wonderful metamorphosis, and looking back a year later and thinking, THIS is who I was meant to be. It’s about learning so much about yourself and about what really matters in life.

It’s about feeling the utmost pride in your accomplishments, no matter how small; whether it’s cooking a meal, or doing a load of laundry, or sucking boogers out of your baby’s nose with one of those hose things. It’s bursting at the seams every time YOUR little human hits a new milestone…every laugh, every new tooth, the first steps, the first word… the joy you get from your little one’s accomplishments will outweigh any joy you have ever felt before. It’s discovering that the newborn days are hard and you will be in a fog and you will feel overwhelmed at times. But that the fog will clear before you know it and that, in fact, the time is fleeting. Your baby will grow more and more independent by the day, and soon you will be sleeping through the night again.

You can do this, Mama. You are not alone, and you are embarking on the absolute GREATEST journey…motherhood. Embrace it, cherish the littlest moments. Time is going to pick up speed and you won't want to miss a thing.

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Join me on my road to abs. ABS as in, A Better Stomach. If actual abs come out of the deal, fantastic! However, my focus will be on creating a healthier lifestyle overall and combating my diastasis recti if that’s even possible. Those that know me know that I’ve always been active but it’s time to get intentional. I have very specific body goals (which I’ll keep to myself to avoid the snubs). Petite doesn’t = perfect regardless of what society tells us. My @teyanataylor body and @ec_fitness.lifestyle meal prep goals are important now more than ever not just because I’ve had a baby but because I’m getting older, my metabolism has changed, I need to look good naked for the hubby and frankly I love @krispykreme and we don’t plan on breaking up any time soon. I’m seeking the best formula for Chanel to #eatbetter #lookbetter and ultimately #feelbetter. Special thanks to my @fit4mom_columbus_east village for the support in this journey. The encouragement to stay physically fit has been great but the community of moms has been even better!

Motherhood is being your best you...for you.

For more info on DR, Check out: http://blog.fit4mom.com/friday-fitness-with-farel-what-is-diastasis-recti

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During pregnancy, it's no secret a woman's body changes in SO many ways; some are glamorous, like super-model hair growth, glowing skin, and thick, strong fingernails, to name a few. And some changes, are less than glamorous, like heartburn, stretch marks, weight-changes, and fluctuating hormones creating up and down mood swings.

While we grow and carry sweet babe(s), experiencing all of those changes (and more), most women can't help but fear childbirth in one way or another, and what it will do to our bodies, specifically, our pelvic floor.

"Just like it is important to strengthen the major muscles in our bodies, your pelvic floor is a set of muscles that need the same attention," says FIT4MOM Director of Pre/Postnatal Fitness, Farel Hruska.

Many moms tend to think that this attention is best made after baby is born; however, it's actually best to start that strengthening mentality during pregnancy and then, for the rest of your life!

We know that if we don’t use our muscles, we lose them. The most common symptom of a weakened pelvic floor after childbirth is "leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running" (Better Health, 2018), but here is a full list of symptoms and also a few other causes of a weakened pelvic floor besides pregnancy via Better Health Channel:

Symptoms of a weak pelvic floor include

  • Leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running
  • Failing to reach the toilet in time
  • Uncontrollably breaking wind from either the anus or vagina when bending over or lifting
  • Reduced sensation in the vagina
  • Tampons that dislodge or fall out
  • A distinct bulge at the vaginal opening
  • A sensation of heaviness in the vagina

Causes of a weak pelvic floor

  • Supporting the weight of the uterus during pregnancy
  • Vaginal childbirth, which may overstretch the muscles
  • The pressure of obesity
  • Chronic constipation and associated straining to pass stool
  • Constant coughing
  • Some forms of surgery that require cutting the muscles (including prostate cancer treatment in males)
  • Lower levels of oestrogen after menopause.

So what’s the best way to train these muscles to work for you? "Kegels", says Farel.

Hruska explains kegels and more in this pelvic floor Q&A -

Q: What does a kegel feel like?

A: Imagine stopping the flow of urine. That’s it!

Q: How do I know if I am doing them correctly?

A: Just like in a bicep curl, where you bend at the elbow and then extend back to starting position, you tighten your pelvic floor and then release that contraction. Both the contraction and the relaxation are critical in the strengthening process.

Q: How often should I kegel?

A: Whenever you think about it. Maybe create a game, like kegel at a red light when you are hitting Target (again!). Or kegel during the commercials of the show you are currently binge-watching!

Q: Thinking ahead here...what else can I do to strengthen my core postpartum, since that's also important to me?

A: You can try these 5 moves

"A strong pelvic floor during pregnancy will be the key to a lifetime of pelvic floor health!"

- FIT4MOM Director of Pre/Postnatal Fitness, Farel Hruska.

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