updated 7 Oct 2010, 17:43
    Powered by
user id password
Wed, Sep 29, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN
EmailPrintDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
So how do I get into my old jeans?
by Audrey Tan-Zubiri

THEY SAY a woman is most beautiful when she is pregnant. She radiates a glow and is a picture of joy and contentment.

I'd like to think that to be true. A miracle is taking place within her during those nine months, and it's hard not to feel just a tad proud of your role in God's creation.

However, I recall times I would look in the mirror and wonder if, perhaps, those words were uttered simply to humor the bundle of raging hormones that is the pregnant woman.

In the beginning, there aren't really obvious changes. Your body is pretty still the same, save for the little pouch on your tummy that could very well be just the result of a heavy lunch buffet.

In fact, I like the first trimester, especially when you suddenly develop a nice cleavage that goes well with your glowing skin (which is apparently caused by increased blood circulation for your pregnancy needs).

Strangely though, my skin was nice only when I was pregnant with my daughter. When I had my son, my skin was a disaster.

Anyway, depending on your body type, and especially for first-time pregnancies, you may not even really show until well into your second trimester.

Then you enter that awkward phase-where you'll find yourself trying on outfit after outfit wondering if you actually look pregnant or just fat.

But don't worry because soon enough, there will be no need to think about that as your stomach gets bigger and bigger just when you thought it couldn't possibly grow anymore.

In my case, as my pregnancy progressed and the walking turned into waddling, I dreamed of the day I'd give birth and have both my baby and body back the way it was.

The day came when I finally got to meet my little angel. She was a dream come true. But as for getting my body back the way it was, consider it a dream as well-one that would take a little more time before coming true.

I remember going through those times shortly after giving birth and desperately trying to squeeze myself back into my old jeans. I honestly believed that I'd be able to wear them again within weeks of giving birth. What resulted was a whole lot of major fashion faux pas.

There were also those days I'd venture out thinking I looked semi-decent until well-meaning people would ask when I was due.

Eventually, I lost the weight, just as you will, too, and while I can't guarantee anyone looking good enough to model lingerie in two months, we can try putting things in their proper place, literally and figuratively!

Stretch marks

First things first, while some changes are permanent (stretch marks, anyone?), others are only temporary and, thankfully, reversible.

The most important thing to remember is that your recovery and your baby's health come first. There is no commandment that says "Mama must get her body back ASAP" in the Bible, and images of Facebook skinny moms right after giving birth are just that-images. (Do you honestly think they would post unflattering photos of themselves on Facebook?)

So the sooner you accept that these changes are normal and that things will improve, the better.

Let's start with the permanent change: the dreaded stretch marks. The most likely area they will show up is on your stomach. Whether just around the belly button or all around your waist, there's a big chance you'll have these souvenirs for the rest of your life.

The side of your upper thighs and your chest area are also new locations for stretch marks. They say prevention is key, so you can try putting oils, creams and lotions thrice a day for the whole nine months like I did, but it's still not foolproof because, more often than not, it just boils down to genes.

But try it anyway. Cocoa butter and coconut oil are two of the most recommended products.

The good news is, those angry-looking stretch marks today will eventually fade into whitish/silvery slivers.

Don't scratch

Another thing to remember is, if you happen to still be pregnant while reading this, don't scratch your belly no matter how itchy it gets. Try putting cold compress or ice against it to relieve itchiness.

Now we move on to the semi-reversible; the big, lose tummy skin. This may sound strange but after you give birth, don't look at your stomach for a week or so unless you enjoy torturing yourself. Your uterus is still contracting and you will still look like you're six months pregnant for a few weeks.

Then little by little, your stomach will shrink on its own, though I would suggest giving it some help.

Wear binder

To date, the best and most effective advice I got was to wear a binder. Ask your OB if you can wear one and if so, keep it on snug and tight, day in, day out, and remove only when you take a bath or have it washed. Give it about three months or so.

You can try putting tightening lotions but, honestly, the best additional tip is to tone your abdominals again through gradual and light exercise, though only when your doctor gives the go signal.

Be realistic

But let's be realistic here, after your stomach skin is stretched to the limits, elasticity is bound to snap at some point so don't be too hard on yourself or set unrealistic expectations.

It will eventually flatten and you can get your abs again, but only the lucky winners in the genetics sweepstakes will get their tummy back to its smooth and firm pre-baby texture, no matter how much exercise and binding are done.

Baby pounds

Then there's the baby weight. The pounds will and should pile on when you're pregnant but they don't have to come from chocolate cakes and ice cream which will happily settle in your thighs and arms without even nourishing your baby.

On the other hand, homemade grilled meats and vegetable pies will keep both you and the baby on the right track.

So if you had a healthy eating regimen during your pregnancy and gained the approximate amount recommended by your doctor, chances are, you will lose most of the weight without even trying after you give birth.

Give yourself at least six months to gradually but healthily lose the baby pounds.

And if you're not satisfied with the amount of weight you are losing naturally, you can try some mommy-friendly toning exercise programs like yoga, Pilates or Barre 3. Couple that with constant carrying of your little one and soon enough, you'll have mommy muscles in your arms!


Breastfeeding also has a way of slimming you down as nursing (exclusively) burns an average of 500 calories a day, even if you do nothing but lounge around with your little darling all day. Consider that your baby's thank-you gift for your efforts.

But breastfeeding is not the time when you should be dieting and exercising severely as this will be too stressful for your body to take.

As for the vertical stripe on your abdomen, the dark belly and other patches of hormonal discoloration and, unfortunately, the wonderful new chest size, they are all temporary and will slowly disappear over the months.

Your chest? Enjoy it all you can while you are still nursing because once that's over, it goes back to what it was before. Possibly even less.

And if you're wondering about your hair now being so greasy and sticky, just take the shower you've probably forgotten about in your overwhelmed state. That's just your little sweetheart's spit-up and saliva combined.

No two pregnancies are alike and chances are, there are many other changes out there, unique only to certain mothers, but what many of us probably have in common are the emotions that accompany us late at night, when you see a woman you don't recognize in the mirror anymore.

There may be days when, because of your exhaustion over the new baby, you wouldn't even have the energy to care.

But there are also those moments when that image in the mirror may be all you need to drive you to tears, especially in the beginning when your hormones are still out of control.

Most young pregnant women accept the changes pregnancy brings without qualms because deep inside, they are hoping that once the baby is delivered, everything will go back to normal.


While we have media and technology to thank for giving us images of gorgeous new moms for inspiration, it has also fueled the needless pressure to look good right away. Images of celebrities such as Heidi Klum strutting her stuff down the runway, eight weeks post partum, only reinforce this idea.

But as anyone will, or will not tell you, this is not always so.

While admittedly, there are women who breeze through it and come out with the same body they've had since they were 18, there are many more women who have to contend with the new post-baby bodies.

The trick is to just be kind to yourself. Motherhood is not a race on who can get her body back fastest.

I'm not saying to just let yourself go and I'd be a hypocrite if I said I never bothered trying to get my body back. But I've come to realize that the joy of recovering your old body is empty and meaningless if you don't understand and accept the realities of your body now.

You will never be satisfied or contented with it, no matter how close you come to the original, if you don't accept these changes to begin with.

Truth is, not only have you changed, you have evolved. So it's only natural that your body is transformed with you. Your body has just performed the greatest job anyone can ever ask of it so cut it some slack.

And rather than rejecting every sign of change, try embracing it. If you can love your little one for everything that he or she is, there is no reason you can't do the same for yourself.

Pretty soon, you might just realize that your new body is just as good as the old one, if not even better.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.