Why It’s So Hard To Bounce Back Into Shape After Baby Number 2

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Figuring out how to bounce back into shape after baby can be hard, especially if you’re trying to get back in shape after baby number 2. Check out these 5 key areas that could be holding you back (and what you can do about it!).

Figuring out how to bounce back into shape after baby number 2 has been one of my biggest health and wellness struggles.

And I feel double guilty because I was a physician assistant (who did integrative/holistic medicine and weight loss counseling) before I became a stay at home mom.

For a while, I felt like my body and my medical expertise were failing me. I followed the Trim Healthy Mama diet (still do) after my first baby was born, and I lost the weight effortlessly in just 4 months while nursing.

But my body after my sweet second baby– that’s a different story!

Ugh! For many moms, it’s sooooo much harder to lose weight after a second baby.

Below are the 5 main reasons why I struggled to bounce back into shape after baby– check ’em out and see if any of this sounds like your story.

At the bottom, I’ll include some additional medical conditions and reasons why it’s so hard to get back into shape and lose weight after baby.

And once you know why you can’t bounce back into shape after baby number 2, it’s SO much easier to come up with a game plan to feel and look like yourself again.

5 Reasons It’s So Hard To Bounce Back Into Shape After Baby

1. postpartum mood changes (PPD, PPA, and/or PTSD)

How are you doing, friend? How are you really?

Mood and stress play a HUGE role in how well you can bounce back into shape after baby.

I did not have a clue about postpartum depression (PPD) after my first baby. Like, I had talked to a friend who had it, and I thought I got it, but I did not have PPD after the first baby.

Oh, baby, did I have PPD after the second little one!

About 8 months after the birth of my second daughter, we had some stressful things happen. We had several financial hiccups, and I was already staying home with the girls. After my first baby, I was still working parttime and could always pick up extra shifts if we needed some additional income.

My blog started making a little income, but it felt so small compared to our expenses (a house break-in and damaged, a bathroom that was falling through rotten floor joists, and a few more things).

I felt so stressed about money. And I couldn’t seem to lose weight. And I wasn’t sleeping.

I started crying every day. Nothing that I used to enjoy seemed fun anymore. I would just lay on the floor feeling completely overwhelmed; it felt like everything was literally pushing down on me.

I ended up developing panic attacks (I had about 10-20 brief ones a day) and recurring nightmares. I have a history of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from spending a year volunteering in a hospital in Haiti. I was there when that was a catastrophic earthquake (January 2010) and I did disaster relief in the areas that were affected the worst.

Mild depression or “feeling blue” is fairly common after having a baby. IF you start to develop more concerning symptoms that are affecting how you do your daily life, please please please talk to your doctor.

PPD is a tough road to walk, and your mood can play a HUGE role in your body’s ability to bounce back into shape after baby.

Some women actually end up with a decreased appetite and losing weight with PPD or postpartum anxiety, but it seems that more often, mamas gain weight or have trouble losing it.

If this is your second baby, you’ve also got an older child to care for (that you’re hoping you won’t scar for life with your emotional weirdness), and that adds to your stress levels.

Your feel-good neurotransmitters and your stress hormones (keep reading– they’re coming up next) BOTH make it harder to bounce back into shape after a baby, especially if you have PPD or PTSD.

Further Resources To Start Healing PPD:

  • Talk to someone! Please tell your doctor, consider telling your spouse and/or a trusted friend, reach out! You are not alone and you will get through this, sweet mama!
  • This Isn’t What I Expected– this book is an awesome resource for moms struggling with PPD. It’s written by 2 PPD experts and helps give you tools to start feeling like yourself again, plus guidelines for when to reach out for help.
  • Counseling– This can be a great way to get helpful advice and a listening ear from someone who understands. If it’s too stressful to get out and talk to someone, consider using online or Skype counseling through Talk Space or Focus On The Family (Christian organization with a free first time consult– this is how I found my amazing counselor)

What Helped Me Personally:

  • St. John’s Wort- After research and discussion with my baby’s pediatrician, I felt comfortable taking 300mg of St. John’s Wort 3 times a day (I built up slowly and weaned off slowly). SJW is an herbal remedy for depression that my pediatrician was comfortable with me using while I was still nursing.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Re-processing (EMDR)- This is a specific therapy for PTSD that uses rapid eye movements to help you to process and re-store traumatic memories. It was a 70% CURE rate; and it was amazing for my PTSD. Just 3 sessions and the crazy (the nightmares, panic attacks) stopped completely.
  • For more on my PPD/PTSD story, check out My Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Story x2

2. Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue, or accurately called HPA-axis dysregulation, plays a large role in your body’s ability to deal with stress.

The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and produce stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.

It’s responsible for your fight-or-flight response when you are presented with danger as well as underlying stressors, like feeling stressed from work or physical stress from illness.

High cortisol levels, in particular, are associated with increased abdominal (belly) fat that can be tough to lose!

Not getting enough sleep can raise cortisol levels (like getting up in the night with little babies), and staying up past 11pm can spike cortisol as well.

Further Resources To Start Healing Adrenal Fatigue:

3. Leaky Gut and Food Allergies

When the adrenal glands have been stressed for a while, it’s not uncommon to develop leaky gut.

Leaky gut is a pulling apart of the tight junctions of the cells lining your small intestine. As they separate a little bit, larger food molecules can “leak” through, creating an immune response and leading to food sensitivities.

Food sensitivities are IgG mediated (not IgE mediated, like those that cause mouth and airway sweeling), and they can cause weird symptoms like weight gain, swelling, brain fog, or rashes hours to days after consuming that food.

From the stresses of PPD and PTSD, I developed leaky gut and a food sensitivity to coffee– so sad! Coffee is my BFF for getting through the day after being up in the night with a new baby.

Additionally, over 80% of your immune system and your neurotransmitters (those chemicals in your brain that help you feel happy and rewarded) get their start in your gut.

When you’ve got leaky gut, it can definitely affect your immune system and your mood.

For me to bounce back into shape after baby number 2, I needed to work on healing up my leaky gut.

Further Resources To Start Healing Leaky Gut:

4. Not Enough Rest

Whew! I know this is a tricky one, friend, because we’re trying to bounce back into shape after baby #2– meaning, we have a BABY at home AND another kiddo!

Lol, so this is a hard one, but it’s also an important reason worth mentioning because it can play a huge role in our ability to lose weight and feel great again.

Not getting enough sleep, staying up too late after night, and constantly being on the go can push our adrenals and cause spikes in cortisol (leading to more adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, etc; it’s a vicious cycle!).

So, as much as you’re able to, make rest a priority.

We’re big fans of sleep training. We’re spectacularly bad at Babywise scheduling, but I did try with both of mine.

I also found the nap-time advice from this book to be incredibly helpful. I helped me to get my girls sleeping through the night by 4 months, and both took at least 2 hour naps twice a day until almost age 2.

Try to sleep when you can, shoot for going to bed before 11pm, and try to sneak in some mommy time when possible.

Further Resources To Start Getting More Rest:

5. Unhealthy Diet/Lack of Meal Prep

So sorry, but you knew this was coming, right?

I just have to make a quick mention of this one.

I really struggled to lose the baby weight and bounce back into shape after baby until I got back on my healthy eating plan AND figured out a rhythm that worked for me to meal prep.

Picking your diet plan is super important to nourish your body, nourish your baby (if you’re nursing), and still lose the baby weight.

But just as important is figuring out how you’re going to STICK to that healthy diet.

For me, I was finally able to stick to my diet when I started doing meal prep for the next meal or snack as soon as the baby went down for nap.

I would eat healthy for my next meal/snack because the healthy meal was already ready. I was too lazy/exhausted to make an unhealthy meal!

Further Resources To Start Eating Healthy and Doing Meal Prep:

Additional Reasons Why It Might Be a Struggle to Bounce Back Into Shape After Baby

The five areas above needed some healing and attention for me to get back in shape after baby #2.

There are definitely some other health issues that can make getting back into shape after baby a challenge, and they can include:

  • Hormone Imbalances— It takes a while for your female hormones to regulate after you’ve had a baby. If you’re breastfeeding, this is usually an area that will need to wait until you’ve weaned. If you’re not breastfeeding, you might want to talk to your doctor and you can read more about it here.
  • Thyroid Issues— Crazy hair loss (which can also be related to postpartum hormone changes), feeling really hot or really cold all the time, dry skin, constipation, struggling to lose weight, and more may indicate some thyroid issues. Women can develop postpartum thyroiditis up to 1 year after delivery, which would be important to discuss with your doctor.
  • Blood pressure and blood sugar levels–If you had problems with your blood pressure and/or blood glucose levels during pregnancy, please continue to follow with your doctor. Most do resolve completely after delivery, but sometimes these can be precursors to health concerns down the road.
  • Diastasis Recti— This is the separation of your abdominal muscles from getting stretched out during pregnancy, and many women describe it as looking like you’re 4-5 months preggo when you’re not. If this is you, there are several different exercise programs that can help you to safely rehab your abs. This is one of my favs.

Hang in there, mama! You’ve created a beautiful little person, and your beautiful figure will come back soon.

But, if you’re struggling to bounce back into shape after baby number two like I was, you might find that it’s easier to get back into shape if you’ve addressed the issues above.

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