Because I’m spending this week in my swim suit on the beach (ack!), I thought I’d do a little post on the dreaded post-pregnancy weight loss. Mostly just to give the rest of you who are still struggling with it a little moral support. It can be rough on the old ego, that’s for sure.
So before and even shortly after Dashiell was born, I was just CERTAIN that I’d be back to my normal size four months after he was born. Pre-pregnancy I wore a size 4 dress. So in planning for my bridesmaid dress last June (4 months postpartum), I figured I’d be easily into a size 6. After all, I like to exercise, and I’d be deep in breastfeeding! Yes! Breastfeeding! The miracle weight loss tactic!
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I’m convinced they tell you that breastfeeding helps you lose weight as part of secret plan to get more women to breastfeed. Which btw, I’m completely fine with. But magic cure-all for the extra LBs I was toting around – um, no. For that wedding I had to order a size 10 dress. It sucked. Not because of the size itself so much. More because of how many sizes UP it was from what I considered my “normal” size to be.
At 6 months we went on family vaycay to Yosemite, and looking at pictures when we got home was yet another depressing moment. I was still hideously fat (IMO). I gave up Stacy’s pita chips, which I think helped a little. But I also just tried to remind myself that it took me 10 months to gain 28 pounds and it would probably take about that long to lose them all again.
At 8 months, same. To be fair I wasn’t actively trying to lose weight. I was running a few days a week. Maybe going to a core class twice a month. Mostly just doing what moms do: hanging with their baby, trying to keep the house from looking like a hovel, and fitting in work here and there. And I kept telling myself that it wasn’t my job to be skinny! It was my job to take care of my baby and finally start to catch up on 6 months without sleep. In fact I looked at skinny people and thought, god, they have nothing better to do than fit into their skinny jeans! HOW SELFISH AND SHALLOW. (We tell ourselves what we can to get by, you know?)
By 9 months Dashiell was eating more food and nursing less and things actually started to change. My postpartum clothes were finally too big. My pre-baby clothes started to almost fit again. By 10 months I was feeling pretty good actually. And now, exactly one year later I’m miraculously and by no real effort on my part, 5 pounds under my pre-prego weight.
So the moral? Give yourself a break. If you’re not a Hollywood personality with a celebrity trainer and nutritionist, and especially if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, it’s going to take some time to get back to your old bod. Your body might insist on hanging on to the extra 5 pounds because it needs insurance while you continue to nurse full time. And even when you hit the number you’re looking for, your body is just going to be different. But remember to celebrate that! It was you baby’s home for almost 10 months, it supported him/her through the first year of life, and it’s a pretty amazing little temple when you think about it like that.
And while I wouldn’t recommend intermittent exercise and little attention to calorie intake as a reliable weight loss plan, it eventually worked for me. But it took 12 f-ing months. Most importantly, the entire experience has given me such a better perspective on food and exercise and just generally being more conscious of what’s important in my life right now. ie. NOT my jeans size.
So you pretty ladies out there who’ve recently had babies, set reasonable expectations for yourself! My friend Becca wrote a great, very real post about this same thing. Growing and birthing and raising a child takes a toll on your body, and in time you’ll be able to focus on yourself again.
At least a little. Maybe.
In the meantime, treat yourself to a cookie after you put the baby to bed. And if you have to choose between getting an extra hour of sleep and going on a run, sometimes the extra sleep for you is going to be far more beneficial to the entire family than burning a few hundred calories.
I still want to give away all of my clothes btw. Even though I fit into them, I do not want to wear them. I am a different person, after all! I am satisfying myself with online window shopping and reckless cart abandonment for now. You know what I’m saying.