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Postpartum, February 2013

Postpartum, February 2013

I took a bath.

I know it sounds like one of these “who gives a fuck” Facebook status updates, but it was my first bath since Mark was born. Oh, don’t worry, I take a shower everyday—I don’t want to perpetuate the popular “French stink and don’t wash” stereotype. But these days, ‘me’ time, alone in the bathroom, is rare, and I usually rush through the shower much like I rush through everything these days.

Hot water and bubbles plus fancy French beauty products equals instant relaxation.

I soaked in the hot water, Mark’s baby babble downstairs temporarily muffled by the bathroom fan, and took a few deep breaths. I stretched my legs, ran my hands through my hair and got some of my Nuxe facial mask in my eyes—oops.

The smell of the scrub I use when I take a bath reminded me of last summer when, in the third trimester of pregnancy, I used to take a bath almost every other day in a desperate attempt to ease lower back pain and a myriad of other small pregnancy boo boos.

But this time, I no longer had a big belly bump peeking above the waterline. My belly is flat, my breasts even flatter—goodbye “pregnancy  boobs”!

I have my body back for myself even though I don’t always have the time to be by myself these days.

When I first realized I was pregnant, the practical side effects of baking a baby were the least of my worries. I’ve been fatter, I’ve been thinner, I have worn out my body traveling and I’ve soothed it with massages whenever I had the money for this oh-so-pleasant luxury. Overall, I have a fairly healthy relationship with my body—even though, like most women, I periodically wish I could fit this tiny pair of trendy skinny jeans and flaunt an outrageous cleavage.

Oh, and I wouldn’t have minded smaller feet as well. Finding size 9-10 shoes can be a pain. But I’m 5’7, you can’t reasonably expect me to have tiny Chinese feet.

A few months into the pregnancy, when the baby bump started to show, I freaked out.

Okay, there was something growing inside me. Ahem… was my body meant for two people? I mean, would it like… expand? Would I end up like a huge balloon?

I went online and read a long litany of pregnancy- and postpartum-related complaints, aches and pains. Acne, stretch marks, excessive body hair, hemorrhoids, constipation, clumsiness, dizziness, heartburn, hair loss, stuffy nose, sore breasts… and these were just a few benign if icky side effects, apparently.

I read forum threads where expert moms described babies as small but lethal weapons of mass destruction who destroy your body and pretty much kill your fuckability. “But it is worth it in the end,” said most of these woman. “You have a baby! A cute little baby!”

I’m a married woman, but a French married woman. And at 29 years old, I sure didn’t want my fuckability to be destroyed. And call me shallow but I like my body, and I resolved to protect it against the baby invasion.

I decided to fight back.

I exercised. I ate healthy. I massaged my round belly and thighs with almond oil to prevent stretch marks. And I kept my finger crossed that I would get my body back, even though it wasn’t the body of a supermodel to start with.

Well, ladies and… ladies (because I doubt gentlemen care!), I’m happy to tell you that you can indeed “recover” from nine months of pregnancy.

I did experience some icky pregnancy side effects, the most annoying ones being constipation (seriously not funny) and sore breasts (I couldn’t even touch them in the first trimester!).

I have a few old and almost faded stretch marks from my teen years on my thighs but I didn’t get a single additional one with this pregnancy. I think using cream every day really helped! My belly came back to its normal state and I don’t have extra skin hanging out. The only small difference I see is that my navel piercing is a bit loose—I didn’t take it out when I was pregnant though, no need too.

This is not to brag I have a perfect body—far from that. This is just a message of hope to the women who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant and are bidding goodbye to their body. Sure, pregnancy and having a baby changes you in tons of small ways. But your body is smart and it adjusts accordingly.

Four months after giving birth, I’m back to “normal”, whatever “normal” was. Pregnancy is not a disease—it’s an experience, and your body will deal with it.

Postpartum, February 2013

Postpartum, February 2013

The Belly

The Belly

Hard to Believe He Fitted Inside Me!

Hard to Believe He Fitted Inside Me!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Salut Zhu,
    I didn’t “bake” my own baby but I sense that you have come to terms with your body, during Mark’s stay and after. It is a complex matter, body consciousness.
    Sooo right to pamper yourself à la Française! That is hard work to care for a baby.
    You must have your stash at home of all these beautiful products 🙂

    Bises xox

    • Even if you don’t have kids, I know that as a woman you can relate to the “body challenge”! Most women can as we often have a complicated relationship with our body at times 😉 But yep, pampering is a great way to overcome it.

  2. Well, every body and every pregnancy is different. Some people have a harder time than other to recover to their pre-pregnancy body shape. In my case after 2 pregnancy in less than 2 years, one being twins, I can tell than that I am NOW only (the youngest in 15 months old) starting to look like my old self again! I know some women for whom pregnancy totally change their body, and some other for whom pregnancy and postpartum is a breeze…

    In my case, I had no stretch marks up until the end of the second trimester with the twins. I was using creams like a madwoman too. When the OB told me I was lucky I had a good skin, I replied it was because I applied a good cream! She said creams have nothing to do with it. Alas, she was right. I have stretch marks everywhere now, but who cares? Those are my life’s “tattoos”! 😉

    • You did have twin which is a very different story… stretch marks are expected, you did twice the work! 😉

      I don’t mind stretch marks actually, like you said, they are “life tattoos”. And I agree, every woman is different. I hope I didn’t come across as bragging or anything. I really wondered how woman “recovered” from pregnancy so that’s just my own experience. I know I had it easy!

  3. Your stomach is so flat!! You really took care of your body during pregnancy! I didn’t know almond oil is good for stretch mark – I used it on my nails and hair, so it makes sence. Women in Argentina use rosa mosqueta oil. I’ve no idea what that is in English or French, as far as I know, it only grows in Patagonia.

  4. You gave birth only four months ago! I wish I could look half as good as you do, and I’ve never gone through pregnancy and childbirth as you have!

    My mother never lost the weight after having four children. That was enough to scare me off for life. I have the perfect body for birthing a child, but I am short so I know that I would probably be huge. I have a French friend who has the same type of body as me, around the same height and weight and when she was at 5 months, she looked as if she was 7 months pregnant. I have a German friend that towers above me and at full-term she looked 7 months pregnant.

    Do you have time to exercise now?

    • Honestly you can never tell how much weight you will gain and all, but all of my friends lost the weight pretty fast and look just as they did before, no matter how “big” they felt during the pregnancy.

      I don’t have the time to go to yoga anymore but babies do take a lot of energy (and are great for arm curls!). I do walk just about everywhere and it adds up to several kilometres per day. That helps a lot and keeps me in shape (plus it’s relaxing!). I’ve never really been one to exercise to be honest. I enjoyed yoga but that’s the only physical activity class I have ever attended. I tried the gym for a while a few years ago but I am bored at the gym.

  5. Hey Zhu Zhu,

    You look great. How does it feel to be back into your old body? lol 🙂

    Mark is huge and cute. In no time he will be walking around the house and outside…

    It was nice to “hear” from you and I am glad to see that all is well with you.


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