Why does your hair fall out after having a baby?

Dear Is This Normal,

Why does your hair fall out after having a baby? I’ve been noticing more hair coming out and my front hairline is receding. My child was born over a year ago, too. Any advice would help please. 

Signed, 

Losing It

Dear Losing It,

Ohhhhhh yes. The dreaded postpartum hair loss! It’s just another one of those delightful side effects of pregnancy and childbirth. And I realize there is no sarcasm font, but just so you know, I am using “delightful” VERY sarcastically. No one likes to lose their hair, especially all at once. Unfortunately, it is totally normal. But there are some things we can do to lessen the blow, so to speak.

Let’s talk a bit about why our hair falls out after we have a baby. See, one of the NICE things about pregnancy is that it gives thick, luxurious hair. We’re taking these amazing prenatal vitamins, for one thing. Plus the hormones our body is producing actually keeps our hair from falling out. The average person loses about 100 strands of hair a day, but not during pregnancy! That hair stays put, it’s all shiny and beautiful, and everyone is happy. 

But then … you have the baby. And those pregnancy hormones come to a screeching halt. You see where I’m going with this, yes? So you have your baby, your body starts getting back to normal, and all that hair you’ve been hanging onto has to go somewhere. It can definitely be alarming, because it doesn’t come out in wisps. For a lot of women that hair falls out in chunks, consistently, for weeks and months. Plus you’re tired and stressed and maybe your diet isn’t so great. All of these things can contribute to the problem. If you breastfed your baby and recently weaned or switched to formula, you may notice the cycle start all over again, albeit not as bad. Some women hang onto that extra pregnancy hair during breastfeeding and start to lose it when they stop.

While there’s nothing you can do to keep it from happening (SO SORRY), there are some things you can do to help. Eating well and taking your prenatal vitamin (even after you’re no longer … natal) can improve the health and strength of your hair. Don’t wash your hair too often. Use a good quality shampoo and conditioner. After washing your hair, use wide-tooth detangling combs to comb your hair out and try to avoid putting your hair up in tight rubber bands. Scrunchies are all the rage teens right now, and they’re much gentler on your hair! During the shedding phase, skip the chemical processes at the salon and try to minimize heat styling. 

If you’re still experiencing significant hair loss more than 12 months postpartum, make an appointment with your doc to see if there might be something else going on. Hair loss, when accompanied by other symptoms, can be a sign of other postpartum conditions like hypothyroidism or iron-deficiency anemia. A blood test can determine if there’s something amiss with your thyroid or iron levels, and the sooner you get that addressed, the better you’ll be in the long run! 

In the meantime, try to be as gentle as you can with your hair. And don’t stress over it too much. Stress can also cause hair loss, which is just so rude.

Thin-Haired Moms Unite,

Is This Normal

My son has a clear favorite parent and it’s not me

Dear Is This Normal,

My son has a clear favorite parent—it’s not me. In some ways, it’s easier. In other ways, I’m jealous. I thought the Mom was always the favorite. 

Signed, 

Second Best

Dear Second Best,

I hope you’ll forgive me for giggling just a tiiiiiiiny bit when I read your post. Because oh my god, we’ve all been there! And then not there. And then there again! And it’s incredibly sweet but also? It’s annoying as hell, because mom SHOULD always be the favorite (I kid, I kid). This is completely normal, healthy even. And believe me when I say that this is not the last time you will fall out of favor with your boy. I sincerely hope dad isn’t gloating too much right now, because his time at the top will be short-lived. 

Listen, kids are fickle little people. They love something, then they hate it! Carrots are great, then god forbid you try to kill them with a carrot at snack time. Kids love baths! Until they don’t and they react as though you’re trying to turn them into people soup. Their tastes and preferences change all the time, so it makes sense that this fickleness will apply to interpersonal relationships too, right? 

Your son having a favorite parent is not a personal attack on you, and even though it can sting sometimes, you really shouldn’t take it as anymore more than your son’s preference at the moment. Not only that, but parental favoritism is actually a sign of cognitive and emotional growth! Developmentally, he’s exploring different bonds and relationships, asserting his independence a bit, and showing off some decision-making skills that will serve him well in the long run. 

Kids also start to realize at a pretty young age that each of their parents has different things to offer. For example, maybe mom is better at reading stories with the silly voices, or maybe dad makes bath time extra fun. Mom might give the good talks, while dad puts band-aids on just right. By singling out each parent when he needs something in particular, your son is developing special bonds around shared interests or preferences, and that’s a good thing! Right now, dad might be his favorite parent, but that will change. Our relationships with our kids, even from a young age, are constantly evolving. Having a favorite doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for the other parent. It just means that he’s bonding with one of you more than the other right now.

Plus, think of it this way: your son preferring dad during this stage just shows that he is confident and secure in your love for him, and he knows that he’ll always be welcomed back when he decides you’re his favorite in a month or two. This definitely won’t be the last time he switches sides between the two of you. Remember, there are still the tween and teen years to deal with! At least when they’re young, we can bribe them back to our team with ice cream and no bedtime.

Your Time at the Top Will Come,

Is This Normal

 

Attached at the Boob

Dear Is This Normal,

Hi, I have a problem. I nursed my first child for three years. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that with my second child, Caleb. But then he was hospitalized at birth. We weren’t allowed to take him home from the NICU until he gained weight. I felt so panicked than that I got into the habit of feeding him whenever he was upset or remotely interested in nursing. Flash-forward sixteen months later, as I type while rocking a literal giant who is attached to my boob. If he wakes in his crib and there’s no boob next to his face, he immediately stands up and begins to scream. He has zero self-soothing skills.

I promised with our second pregnancy that I would never, ever nurse past the 12-month mark. I knew the hell of not getting a full night’s sleep for 3 straight years, and I was not interested in doing that again. 

I’m too stressed to figure this all out, worried I’m doing it wrong, and just plain not willing to let him cry himself to sleep. After 16 months straight of being nursed every single time he has woken up, it would be quite traumatic, very hurtful, and confusing for me to just stop.

What do I do?? How do I wean this little boy who is totally dependent on me to get himself to sleep? I said I wouldn’t make this mistake again the second time around and yet here we are. I should have all the answers because that’s what moms do! We fix things! Ok, you get it…. Heelllllpppp!*  

Signed,
Attached at the boob

Hi No Answers,

Oh mama. This is A LOT. I felt the stress and anxiety in your words. I can’t imagine how hard this has been and continues to be for you. 

I’m so sorry for the trauma of Caleb’s birth and first weeks together earthside. That’s something that we carry with us and I can feel the weight of it on your shoulders. I’m not sure that’s something we as parents are ever able to truly get over. We just have to figure out a way to move forward. 

You didn’t mention how you’re caring for yourself following the events of Caleb’s birth, but if you haven’t already, I strongly urge you to connect with a therapist or counselor or your doctor so that YOU can start unpacking some of your own trauma and begin to heal. I can sense that you’re carrying around a lot of guilt, and the guilt is very likely a big part of the struggles you’re facing now.

It sounds like there are two issues at play here: Caleb’s reluctance to wean off breastfeeding and the issues of sleep-training your toddler. In this case, these two things are intimately connected. 

First of all, listen to me: you didn’t make any mistakes. You did what you had to do to be a mama to your boys and there is nothing wrong with that. Hindsight is always 20/20. We all look back and wish we’d done things differently when it comes to certain aspects of parenting. But calling it a mistake implies you did something wrong. You nursed your sons, you focused on getting your medically fragile baby back to health, and you clearly did what needed to be done in those moments. I see no mistakes made here, mama.

But now, here we are. Rock and a hard place with no roadmap out. And under a time constraint, to boot! So let’s break this down. You want to wean Caleb and you need to get Caleb to a place where he can fall asleep on his own. Nearly every expert in the baby space will tell you: don’t make big changes in your baby’s routine when things are influx. In other words, weaning AND doing some form of sleep-training at the same time would be difficult for all involved. However, in your case, these issues are so intertwined that accomplishing one would very likely take care of the other. 

So let’s focus on weaning off breastfeeding. Weaning, at any age, is not easy. Weaning a toddler is particularly hard. But weaning, whether it’s your choice or it happens organically, is PERFECTLY ok. Do not feel guilty about this, because it’s time for you. That means it’s time for Caleb. You’re the mom, the adult, so guess what? You make the rules. I think you’re focusing so much on causing him additional trauma (you won’t), that you’re missing the benefits of making these changes. Babies and toddlers need to sleep! They need self-soothing skills! We don’t need to leave them cold and alone in a dark room to teach them these skills, either. But it does take some work. And a lot of resolves. That’s going to require that you and your husband work as one cohesive unit to make it happen.

It’s time to start the weaning process. I would suggest doing this gently and gradually. 

It sounds like he’s still nursing pretty much on-demand, so that needs to change. You said yourself that he understands things now so explain it to him. Decide on the specific times you’re ok with nursing, and communicate that to Caleb. Once you’ve got a schedule, start shortening those designated nursing times. Set parameters. Eventually, you’ll drop down to one nursing session and then it’s time to confront the big one: nursing him to sleep. This, and I cannot stress this enough, needs to involve your partner. 

Caleb cries for the boob, so bottom line, the one with the boobs cannot be the one to soothe him. In the middle of the night, when all anyone wants to do is go back to sleep, your resolve will waver. He will win! So your partner needs to be the nighttime parent for a while. He needs to be the one to go into his room when Caleb wakes up and he needs to be the one to soothe him until he falls back asleep. 

Don’t even think about sleep-training during this time – you’re only trying to get him to sleep without breastfeeding him to sleep. Weaning is going to help IMMENSELY with Caleb developing some self-soothing skills, but he may still need help … from your husband. As hard as it will be, you cannot be the one to comfort him

Here’s the other thing, the thing you’re going to struggle with the most: Caleb will cry. Probably a lot. He is not going to be traumatized. You are not going to hurt him by doing this necessary work. But you need to prepare yourself for tears (his and yours, most likely). SO MUCH of parenting involves us doing unpleasant things for the benefit of our kids. It seems like much of your guilt over this particular period is tied to the guilt you still carry around from his birth and days in the NICU. But you have to remember: these things are not connected. You were an amazing mama then and you are an amazing mama now. 

You’re totally right, we DO fix things. And you can fix this! You just need to let go of the residual guilt that’s holding you back from doing what needs to be done. Caleb isn’t going to wake up one day and magically self-wean and then put himself to sleep. But with your help, and with your husband’s help, he can get there. Stay strong, mama. In addition to fixing things, it’s what we do.

You Can Do This,

Is This Normal

I’m Having Such A Difficult Time Weaning My 19 month Old

Dear Is This Normal,

Is it normal to have such a difficult time weaning my 19 month old? He is so attached to nursing that it’s exhausting at this point! I’ve tried all suggestions on weaning, I feel like my only resort is to stay in a hotel for a day or two to really accomplish the weaning. Help!!

Signed,
Tired Tatas

Dear Tatas,

You know, I don’t think I really considered the long-term implications of nursing both my kids. Sure, it was awesome and such an amazing experience. I wouldn’t do anything different. But weaning off breastfeeding is … not the best! And weaning a toddler is the least best. 

Once they can start asking for it, it gets a bit harder to not give it to them, you know? You’ve done such an incredible thing here, mama! You should be proud. But when you’re done, you’re done. There’s no shame in weaning off breastfeeding at any age, but it can get trickier as your babe gets older. Now to get your boob-loving toddler on the same page. 

I feel like everyone weans in their own way. You mentioned you’ve tried all the suggestions, and I did, too! I did the gentle weaning thing for a while. I dropped nursing sessions and shortened the ones we kept. They were only allowed to nurse in the evening, in the special chair in their rooms. I talked to them both about stopping breastfeeding constantly—about how it was time to say goodbye to meese (their word for it), because they were becoming big girls who didn’t need it anymore. 

I didn’t offer the boob when they were tired or fell down and hurt their knee. I really tried to make nursing NOT A BIG DEAL anymore.  It was no longer this thing that was keeping them alive. They could both scarf down an entire hamburger by the time they eventually stopped nursing. And then I tried to make it more of a chore for them. I’d say things like, “Well, we could have meese right now, or we could read this new book we got today, or watch a show on TV together!” I offered them better, more exciting alternatives. And that worked … for a while.

But I’m going to level with you: as long as I was around, and, by extension, my boobs were around, it was always something they wanted/asked for/enjoyed. So I did just what you’re considering doing I went away for a couple of nights. I removed myself and the milk bags from the situation. Out of sight, out of mind. 

We chose to do it on a weekend when, if it came down to it, bedtimes being a bit later wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I packed an overnight bag and I spent two nights away with friends. Luckily by that point, I wasn’t producing enough milk to make it physically uncomfortable (which is something to consider). And my girls? Had a wonderful weekend with their dad, didn’t cry about the AWOL boobs even once and went to sleep just fine each night. 

I did this twice, with each of my daughters, and both times it went about as perfectly as it could have possibly gone. When I came back home, they were super happy to see me, my meager milk supply was 100% gone, and there was no incentive for them to even try nursing again. And that was it! Two nights away was what it took.

A lot of mamas need to work their way up to this, and that is totally fine. You SHOULD try weaning off breastfeeding using different methods to taper off before going cold-turkey, if it comes to that. For a lot of kids, the gentle, gradual weaning process is what will work (plus  it can be easier on everyone involved). 

But, I offer you this advice if you wean: have a hard and fast start and end date, be consistent, and stick to your guns. And if it doesn’t work, don’t feel guilty about taking the boobs off the table completely for a couple of days with your planned absence. As I said before, you should be INCREDIBLY proud of getting this far. But all good things must come to an end. You and your children have many more wonderful bonding moments in your future—that don’t involve your boobs.

Enjoy Your Boob Retirement,

Is This Normal

How To Date As A Single Mom

Dear Is This Normal,

I’m a newly single mom to a preschooler, and I am having the hardest time figuring out to tackle this new life. I really want to get back out there, but where do I start?! My life is so different now. I can’t just run out to meet someone for drinks or bar-hop with my girlfriends to meet new people. And really, I’m not sure that I’m even interested in doing that now! I would love to meet someone new, maybe another single parent, but it feels more and more like I have a better chance of meeting a unicorn at this point. Help!!

Sincerly, 

Newly Single and Ready to Mingle

Dear Newly Single,

Welcome to the club, mama! This is a really strange time, I’m not going to lie. It sounds like you’re ready to get out there, which is the first step. But you’re right—it’s not the same anymore! You’ve got a little person at home, so your priorities and schedule are totally different. Dating isn’t easy, EVER, and it’s especially weird and hard as a single mom. That being said, don’t write off meeting someone new just yet! All you need is a new game plan.

When my marriage ended, I took some time to adjust to this new normal. When I was ready to put myself out there again, I realized that “out there” was not as I remembered! It didn’t help that all my friends were coupled, so it’s not like we could go trawling for guys together. So, I embraced dating in the digital age, and signed up for a few dating apps. When you don’t have a lot of free time or options for meeting new people, dating apps can really help weed out the ones not worth your time.

I’m going to be honest – some of them are really hit and miss, and you will “meet” a lot of creeps. But the great part is, you can just swipe them right out of your life like they never existed. No one has time to go on a bunch of random dates, and in this day and age, most people want to get to know someone before actually meeting them in person. Download a few of the more popular apps, find the best pictures of yourself, and set up some profiles! At the very least, it’s a lot of fun to have a couple of glasses of wine with your friends and check out your matches together.

Sometimes, dating as a single mom hinges on just getting out there and meeting people in similar circumstances! Are there any local groups in your area for single parents? Maybe some playgroups at the park or an organized get-together at Gymboree. I found a few such groups on social media and through word-of-mouth. Takes a lot of the pressure off, since you’re not there to necessarily meet a specific person. Also, this is going to sound strange, but I met some of the coolest single dads at the grocery store! Dated a guy I had a meet-cute with at Trader Joe’s for a while, in fact! It’s kind of annoying to get cute to go to the market, but when you’re dating as a single mom, you take advantage of every situation that presents itself.

When you meet someone new (and you will!), you might feel guilty about spending time exploring your new relationship. I’m here to tell you to JUST SAY NO to single mom guilt. That crap is going to try to sneak in and put the brakes on things. It’s the worst! And it’s unnecessary. As long as your little one is loved and cared for and looked after when you’re not at home, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Not. A. Single. Thing. You’re a mom, yes – but you’re also a woman who is exploring being single for the first time in a long time. If you want to devote some of your time and energy to that, GO FOR IT. You’ll appreciate the break, and new relationships need attention! It’s a balancing act, but there is room in your life for both motherhood and new love.

I wish you all the best on this new adventure, mama! And trust me, it is an ADVENTURE. It’s going to suck at times. And you’re going to delete and download those dating apps probably ten times or more. But you know what? It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s not everyday you get a chance to do it over again, you know? Take this chance and see where it goes.

Not-So-Newly-Single,

Is This Normal 

How Do I Get My 7 Month Old To Sleep Through The Night?

Dear Is This Normal,

Our 7 month old wakes up crying every hour and will only go back to sleep if we pick her up. We’re losing sleep and losing our minds. Please tell me this is normal and temporary?!

Sincerely,

No Sleep in the Suburbs

Dear No Sleep,

Ugh, sleep is the best. Why don’t babies love it?! Every single parent reading this right now just looked off into the distance, remembering a time not long ago when they, too, though they would never sleep again. The good news is: this IS normal, and this IS temporary. The not so good news? It’s unlikely to change without some work. But fear not, No Sleep, you will one day sleep again.

Babies are a lot of things, but born with the skills to sleep is not one of them. They go from sleeping all the time as newborns, to just … not sleeping? With any regularity or discernible schedule? It’s a real buzzkill, let me tell ya. 

I’m going to share with you the two words that saved my nights, my sanity, my mental health, and in the long run, turned my kids into pretty good sleepers. SLEEP. TRAINING. Sleep training! My god, sleep training. I’ll probably get flamed for this, but I don’t even care. I did sleep training with both my kids (one at 7ish months, one at 9 months), and it was a game-changer and lifesaver. It was a few days of unpleasantness for many, MANY nights of blissful sleep. For all of us. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

So let’s break down what’s happening with your baby. Around 4 months, most babies hit a sleep regression. This is because their sleep cycle is changing to become more like the one we have; they cycle in and out of REM sleep (just like we do), but they don’t have the ability to soothe themselves back to sleep (like we do). So when they wake up, instead of settling back into slumber, they cry. Then we go in and pick them up, and rock them back to sleep, and thus begins a vicious cycle. Now, if your baby was able to settle themselves back to sleep, they may cry out but would quickly fall back asleep. This is where sleep training comes in.

There are quite a few baby sleep training methods out there. I’ll tell you what worked for me and literally ALL of my friends with babies: the Ferber method. I will warn you, there is crying involved. Both for your baby and, probably, for you, too. But, hey. No regrets.  Your baby needs to learn how to fall asleep on their own because that’s how good, lifelong sleep habits are built. The Ferber method is a way to help them develop healthy tendencies while letting you get back to your normal sleeping patterns. 

This is how it works: you’ll do your normal bedtime routine, rock your baby, give them lots of cuddles and love. But instead of putting them in their crib when they’re totally asleep, you’ll put them down when they’re drowsy. They may fuss, and yes, they may cry. So you’ll comfort them, and then leave the room while they’re awake. Wait a few minutes, then return for a minute to soothe your baby. Then leave again! Wait a bit longer, then repeat the soothing. Your wait times will get progressively longer until your baby finally falls asleep. But this is important: DON’T PICK THEM UP! It’s totally fine to talk to your babe, comfort them, pat their back, then skedaddle. It’s a rough few nights, but so, so worth it in the end.

Listen, everyone needs sleep. You need it, your partner needs, your baby needs it! And as much as we want our babies to just sleep, they’re not equipped for that—not without a little help from us. So my advice to you is: look into sleep training, and find a method that you feel will work for your family. Research shows that sleep training is a safe and effective way to help your baby develop sleep habits that will stay with them well into childhood and beyond. And I’m telling you, that first night’s sleep without having to rock a crying baby for two hours? Just about the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have. Godspeed, Sleepless. I’m sending you zzzzz’s from afar.

Sleeping in the Suburbs,

Is This Normal

My Partner is a Workaholic

Dear Is This Normal, 

Since I became pregnant, my partner is suddenly a workaholic. They spend so much time at the office, putting in overtime and using what used to be our free time to work more. It’s starting to make me worry about what it’ll be like when our baby is born. Is this normal?

Dear Workaholic Partner,

It’s hard to predict how someone will react once that line shows up on the pregnancy test. Elation and excitement are pretty normal. Shock, surprise, or uncertainty—sure, those are the easy ones. 

Fear, stress, and a sudden need to start preparing IMMEDIATELY for the baby that will be joining the ranks in about 9 months? Well, that reaction is the oldest in the books. It’s very normal, and very valid, albeit hard to understand when you’re the one whose feels that way and it’s your workaholic partner is spending so much time away from home.

Your partner may be thinking of other things that come along with starting a family, like, for instance, money.

Having a baby is expensive. Not just preparing for the baby (which, get ready to spend spend spend), but the actual act of HAVING one. The doctor’s visits, the labor and delivery bills, stocking up on all the little things you’ll need once the baby is home. Becoming a family of three is an exciting time for sure, but when you start to crunch the numbers and see what you’re going to be spending (and how much you need to start saving!) stress can take hold.  

It sounds to me like your workaholic partner could be putting in some extra hours at work to try and ease the financial blow that’s coming. They could also be having a hard time adjusting to all the oncoming changes. It’s … a lot. So, it’s important that, going into this new life stage, you and your partner keep the lines of communication wide open. 

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for communication to breakdown during pregnancy. But that doesn’t have to happen here! 

It’s time for a heart-to-heart. This may very well be the way they feel most helpful and useful and that’s to be appreciated! But if you’re feeling like you want to make the most of the time you have left, just the two of you, you have to communicate that, too. There’s a middle ground here. You just need to meet halfway to find it.

All Work and No Play is Hard on Everyone,

Is This Normal

 

Stay At Home Moms

Hi Is This Normal,

I always wanted to be a stay at home mom to lots of kids, and then struggled with infertility/loss before finally getting my twin boys. They’re almost 3 and I find myself thinking I don’t want any more, and in fact, I really want to go back to school for a career change. Was I just wrong about my calling and this new career is what I’m meant to do, or am I just never satisfied with my life?

Am I a SAHM?

 

Dear Milestone Marker,

 

It’s TOTALLY normal to compare your kid’s milestone markers to other babies. We track them on a universal scale, so of course we look to other kids to see how ours are matching up! And yes, it’s 100% normal to worry that your baby isn’t doing all the same stuff on the same timeline as her baby peers. We compare ourselves to others in so many aspects of our lives – career, appearance, finances. The thing is, comparing your baby to someone else’s baby is like comparing apples to sushi. No two babies are alike – not even identical twins! This was never more evident to me than when I had my second daughter. I remember thinking, “Two girls, cool! I’ve done this before, second time around is going to be caaaaaake.” And my children literally could not have been more different if they’d tried. It was like I’d gone back to Parenting 101, except I was cockier so the failures and letdowns stung just a bit more. Every time the baby did something later than her sister, I worried about her. Every time she did something earlier, I worried about her sister! Our pediatrician had to sit me down and tell me to stop worrying, because despite being born of the same parents and nurtured in the same household, my kids were their own separate beings, independent of one another. They’re 9 and 5 now, and I’m still learning this lesson, tbh.

 

Now, I’m going to level with you: not all those other kids are super advanced. I’d wager a guess that most of them are just totally normal, developing babies. Because guess what? Parents don’t brag about the normal, ordinary stuff their kids do. That’s not going to win them any accolades at Tiny Gym. They brag about the one-off stuff, the seemingly extraordinary stuff that they can use to set their kids apart from the herd. And you know what else? They also exaggerate about milestones … a lot. An excited, first-time mom can jump the gun and hear “MAMA” when really, all her 5-month-old was was trying to do was poop. You really have to take every brag and boast from parents with a grain of salt, just keep that in mind.

 

But you may have very valid concerns about your little one’s developments, and I don’t want to downplay that at all! There’s nothing worse than having a genuine concern dismissed. If you need some reassurance, schedule a sit down with your pediatrician. The CDC milestone guidelines are just that: guidelines. They are not requirements, and they are not set in stone. Some kids sit up before they roll over. Others walk without crawling first. Every baby is different! I know it’s worrisome, but unless your pediatrician seems worried, I want to gently encourage you to not focus so much on the guidelines or what other babies are doing before yours. She’s working on her own timeline, which is exactly right for her. And don’t worry that your 8-month-old isn’t walking, trust me. Once they start doing that, it’s a whole new (and incredibly stressful and exhausting) ballgame.

 

Doing Things On Her Own Time and That’s Just Fine,

Is This Normal

Too Early? Pregnant Regret

Hi Is This Normal,

I am happily married and we were trying to have a baby, so it wasn’t by accident that we’re pregnant. We’re so excited but nervous, and now sometimes he and I both wish we had more time alone together before we gained an addition to our family. Is this normal?

Dear Too Early,

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: no matter how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant, the nerves show up at pretty much the exact same time as that plus sign or that other line or the word “Pregnant” on those pee sticks. Nerves. Fear. Doubt. Those are all completely normal reactions to finding out you’re going to be a parent. Or you can react in the same way myself and millions of others have, and just sort of stare at the test and mutter, “ohshitohshitohshit” over and over again for eleven minutes. Also a completely normal reaction! It’s fine, it all worked out.

You and your husband still have plenty of time alone before your new family member makes its debut. Luckily, humans gestate for what feels like 14 years. But I totally get what you’re feeling, and I can relate 100%. If we’re being honest, that’s a common concern no matter how long you’ve been married! It’s hard to imagine what life will be like after the baby comes, and it’s impossible to prepare. Try not to focus on all the things you think you and your husband will be missing out on, and instead picture all the ways you’re going to grow together. It’s an insanely exciting and intimate experience, creating a life with someone.

Makes the most of the time you have now, before the baby comes. Take little trips together, embrace the romance and intimacy of your young marriage. But don’t think that your days of being husband and wife are over just because you’re having a baby! It’s so important that the two of you carve out time for yourselves and each other, because I won’t lie, the first few months of parenthood are … rough. You’ll both be tested in ways you never knew possible, as will your marriage. But this isn’t the end, not by any means. Your alone time might look a little different for a while, but you know what? For a solid 2 months, that baby won’t even know who you are. So really, it’ll be the two of you for some time still!

Your Party of Two Days Aren’t Over Yet,

Is This Normal

Why do I still look pregnant 7 months later?

Hi Is This Normal,

I have been working out like a maniac since I had my baby 7 months ago and my pooch is not going away. I swear, I still look like I’m pregnant, and it’s so disheartening to think this could be my forever. Is my stomach ever going to come down? Am I doing something wrong here? I see all these moms on insta that have had their baby in the last like, 8 weeks, and look better than me.

Is there any hope for me? HELP!

Mom Bod

 

Dear Mom Bod,

I have so many feelings about this! Especially the comparing our bodies to other bodies thing. It’s such an awful trap we fall into, and we’re all a victim of the trap at one time or another. I left the hospital after delivering my youngest in the same clothes I wore TO the hospital when I was still pregnant, and they fit … exactly the same. Meanwhile other women were walking out in their pre-pregnancy skinnies (how do you even hide those glorious mesh mama panties in those pants?!).

Just as no two pregnancies or babies are the same, no two postpartum bodies are the same. But some postpartum bodies need a little extra help, and not because you’re not trying hard enough. Pregnancy does a real number on our bodies, and can actually do some internal damage that we can’t see and might not even know is there. Leah Keller is a certified personal trainer, and creator of the EMbody Program™ by Every Mother (formerly known as The Dia Method). Leah is here to help explain what the muscles in your tummy went through when you were carrying your babe, and also give us all some tips on how to repair those muscles and (hopefully!) say goodbye to that pooch. P.S.: Where were you when I was 7 months postpartum, Leah?!

Leah stepping in now:

Take heart! Many, many mothers can relate to your experience, and it is most likely due to a medical condition that affects a majority of women postnatally: diastasis recti, or abdominal separation. During pregnancy, the growing uterus exerts pressure on the abdominal wall, bulging it forward. This pressure often causes the abdominal muscles to separate along the midline of the body. Diastasis recti is not a tear, but a sideways stretch of the connective tissue that runs up and down the center of the abdomen. After the baby is born, this tissue does not always return to normal, leaving women with deflated, over-stretched abdominal muscles. In addition to the cosmetic frustration you’ve expressed, diastasis recti also increases the likelihood of back pain, urinary incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction.

So why aren’t your workouts improving the condition? Sadly, most of the exercises we turn to in an effort to strengthen the abs: crunches, sit-ups, bicycle crunches and more… will actually make abdominal separation worse! Any exercise that forcefully bulges the abs forward mimics the mechanical stress of a pregnancy. Even planks can be counterproductive, depending on how they are performed. Is surgery the only answer?! Absolutely not. It is possible to close the separation without surgery and restore core strength and function through exercise. In fact, Weill Cornell Medical School conducted a study of 63 women following my exercise program and found that 100% of subjects fully resolved diastasis recti within an average of 12 weeks. What’s the secret sauce? A revolutionary approach to core training that efficiently and effectively recruits the deepest core muscles: the transverse abdominis (your natural corset) and pelvic floor, along with proper coordination of the diaphragm (always exhale on exertion). Every Mother’s EMbody Reclaim program harnesses the therapeutic power of this deep muscle coordination through daily core exercises and full body workouts. Our streaming videos and mobile app walk you through the subtleties of  exactly what to do each day to resolve diastasis recti and strengthen your core while improving overall fitness.

Is This Normal back in action: Sounds easy peasy. Thanks, Leah!

Helping to close your gap,

Is This Normal

Leah Keller is a certified personal trainer and Creator of the EMbody Program™ by Every Mother (formerly The Dia Method). She lives in San Francisco with her husband, young daughter, and baby boy.