This is me when I was about 5 weeks- or about a week after I found out I was pregnant. I love that I thought I was bloated here! (Left pic)
Here I am at 20 weeks, halfway through the pregnancy, the day we found out we were having a boy. I'm wearing a gap body maternity shirt which was one of my favorites until it was too warm for long sleeves. (right pic)
The left below pic is me at around 27 weeks. My stomach was really popped by this point, and I was getting comments from strangers often. The right pic is my belly as a shelf, which became a convenient use!
This is where things really started to change....not in the best way. I became very uncomfortable at around 34 weeks, and the swelling was unreal. Up until that point, I really loved being pregnant, loved feeling him kick, roll, even the elbow jabs felt cool. After the swelling got bad though, I just didn't feel like myself AT ALL. Everything on me was swollen, but at the time I just thought it was my feet, face, and hands. I assumed the rest of me just got fat! One of the best feelings after I gave birth was no longer feeling like a balloon. The left pic below is me at 37 weeks, so about a week before I gave birth, and the right pic is me about to leave for the hospital to have him! Yes, I was that excited that I needed to get one last belly pic in.
At the end, you literally could press your finger into my foot/ankle and leave a deep mark. Unfortunately something people don't tell you is that the swelling only gets worse after delivery! I FINALLY started to go back to normal and could see my ankles again about a week and a half after I had him.
The weight really did fall off quickly in the beginning. In total, I gained 37 or 38 pounds (I can't remember which). I gained pretty steadily, and somewhat slowly until the end. At 20 weeks I was up 10 lbs. The last trimester is when I really packed it on, and now I realize it was mostly water weight. Within a few weeks of delivering I was only up about 10 lbs from my starting weight which made me really happy. By about 8-10 weeks I had maybe 5 lbs to lose. Within a few weeks of that, I was back to my starting weight. The pic below shows where I am now- I don't take belly pics anymore, it was an outfit shot I was sending to a friend for her opinion!
So, how did I do it? I honestly think it has less to do with what I did after pregnancy, and more to do with what I did prior to/during the pregnancy. Before getting pregnant, I worked out 5-6 days a week. Some days I was teaching fitness classes, others were a mix of running, gym classes I attended, yoga, and strength training. During my pregnancy I kept it up, and credit working out while pregnant for getting my shape back quickly. There were a lot of modifications that I had to do- especially with ab work and yoga. I did a lot of planks while pregnant to keep my core strong; it really helps the ab muscles to 'snap' back into shape, and works the muscle memory. I also exclusively breastfeed, which I think has helped me lose weight. That's tricky though, and can work both ways. Physically, you burn calories when you breastfeed. BUT- you also get hungry like a linebacker that hasn't eaten in days. Some women also hold fat in order for their milk supply to stay up, and then lose weight when they wean. That's why I really don't agree that breastfeeding is a sure way to lose weight. I actually started the pregnancy a few lbs higher than I normally am, and while the pregnancy weight went away, I'm not seeing the number dip any lower. I'm ok with that for now, especially if it means not cutting calories to keep my milk supply good.
I started with just walking around my neighborhood with the stroller, or I wore him. At about 4 weeks I started to turn that into a walk/run. That's also when I headed back to the gym to work out. I definitely modified, lower weights, and very few abs except planks.
My shape is a little different. My hips are a little wider, and although I can see some ab muscles, they are softer than they were before. I think it's really important for women to be easy on themselves after having a baby. There is simply so much going on both physically and emotionally, and taking care of yourself often comes last. Don't beat yourself up if you've had a baby, and the weight isn't going anywhere yet. Everyone is different, and hormones are no joke! But- I think it's undeniable that working out before and during pregnancy is the number one way to get back in shape. It's unrealistic to think that if you didn't work out before, your body will bounce back quickly.
Everyone has their own pregnancy experience, good, bad, and (at least at the end for me) sometimes ugly! The real reward comes after, when you get that baby in your arms!