When Breastfeeding Doesn't Help You Lose the Baby Weight
byStephanie OrihoodAug 06, 2017
Photograph by Twenty20
"Breastfeeding helps you lose the baby
weight!" We've all heard this. It’s touted as one of the reasons to
breastfeed your new little nugget. Mother Nature may have
just effed you over by giving you that extra 20 pounds, but she's also handing
you the way to get it off. Eat that extra piece of avocado toast! You truly are
still eating for two!
Armed with this comforting knowledge, I dove
straight into the deep end of the breastfeeding pool. What I wanted, I ate. I
was gloriously happy and full—just like my baby, who was chunking up nicely.
But suddenly, she wasn't the only one chunking up.
After an initial weight drop
and reduction in cankle size, I noticed the numbers on the scale were starting
to go back up. Were all the breastfeeding gurus wrong? Was I the one exception
to the rule? This made me start to wonder: What if breastfeeding doesn't actually help you lost the baby weight?
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about binge-eating Doritos. I'm talking about eating large quantities of healthy,
nourishing foods while working out several times a week. So what was this new
mama to do?
Enter macro counting.
If you haven't heard of this, it's
essentially tracking and limiting your fat, carbohydrate and protein intake. I
had my goals, I had my limits and I had my food scale. I weighed and measured
and, for the first time since I got pregnant, I started seeing results. I lost
weight and inches, and for a few days, I gained immense pride. I looked in the
mirror and imagined that I was seeing visible changes in my postpartum "mom bod"
that I had such a love-hate relationship with.
days later, during a feeding, my milk wouldn't let down at all. I tried for
almost half an hour, switching between breasts and trying to get my baby girl
to keep up the fight. But she was done and she was still hungry. Through tears, I made
her a bottle of formula and fed it to her. (For the record, I am not
anti-formula. But I had chosen the path of breastfeeding, and my body was
suddenly not cooperating.)
I had been so excited to get my body back that I neglected to realize that my baby still needed something from it.
After swearing off breastfeeding forever, and
just plain swearing to anyone who would listen, I calmed down enough to talk to
my lactation consultant. One of her first questions was: “Any drastic changes
in your diet?” I didn't want to admit to
this goddess of lactation that I had been cutting my food intake. Would she
think I was selfish? Hell, maybe I was. When I did confess, she bluntly told me, "Breastfeeding and quick weight loss are not friends."
I'm sure for some women, the weight truly does
fall off. And to those women I salute—and hate—you. For my body, the sudden
drop in weight that I was so proud of had shocked my body and my boobs. This
left me with two seemingly simple, straightforward options:
1. Stop nursing all
together and work on the body I wanted.
2. Continue nursing and put weight loss
But to me, they didn't seem that cut and dry. Option one was to be
selfish and option two was to be selfless. As a mom, wasn't I supposed to be
programmed to choose my mini-me over my own superficial needs? So I struggled
to decide. While pregnant, I saw my body morph into an unfamiliar shape that,
while decidedly feminine, didn't strike me as all that sexy. I had been so excited to get my body back that I neglected to realize that my baby still needed something from it.
Now here I am, 11 months later, still breastfeeding,
and still struggling with my decision. I want desperately to be all corners,
collarbones and crazy hair à la Carrie Bradshaw. Instead, I'm all squish,
fluff and leaky boobs. I want to be a sex goddess and watch my husband's eyes
light up when he sees my muffin top melt into a figure that I’m proud to
display in a bikini, but that’s on hold for the moment.
we're making decisions like this every day. Balancing our needs with the needs
of our babies and often feeling guilty no matter what we choose.
I try to
remember that this is such a short season of time in my little one's life. That
soon, she'll be off my chest and out of my arms. I’m fighting every day to see
myself as my babies see me—their mama who loves and provides for them—instead
of the critical way I see myself.
So for now, I will hang that bikini in the
back of the closet, roll with the one-piece (pun intended) and focus on the
sweet baby in my arms.