There’s no denying that women’s bodies go through a lot during pregnancy and childbirth. I had read about the ways my body would or could possibly change during all of it, but you never really know what it’ll be like until you experience it yourself. If I said that I’m happy with how my postpartum body looks, I’d be lying, but as cliche as it sounds, it’s all worth it for my daughter.
Throughout my pregnancy, a lot of people kept telling me how quickly I’d bounce back. With my healthy eating and exercise mixed with breastfeeding, the weight would just “fall off.” While I can’t truly reflect on postpartum weight loss yet given that I’ve only been cleared to exercise for two weeks, the weight thus far has in no shape or form fallen off. I gained 45 pounds during pregnancy, which I attribute partially to being on the thin side to start having come off of marathon training, partially to my overwhelming nausea in the first trimester when led me to eat a lot of foods that I don’t usually eat, and partially to the extra indulgences such as my nightly ice cream habit that I allowed myself (don’t regret that ice cream one bit!!!). I did, however, exercise at least 5-6 days a week throughout pregnancy, but in no way was it as intense as the exercise I did before pregnancy.
After the baby came, we were in a state of survival mode. Before the baby came, I promised myself I wouldn’t think about weight loss or dieting at all during the first six weeks. Although I lost 23 pounds in the first week (as expected since I lost baby, water, blood, placenta, etc…) and two more by the end of the second week (water), I actually gained back two pounds after five weeks of eating toast, cereal, pizza, lasagna and any other carbolicious and sugar-filled treat that friends and family would bring us or that we’d order or pick up for ourselves in a state of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Although I did make and freeze some healthy meals before the baby arrived, the junk we ate in addition to that countered any healthiness. We had some issues with breastfeeding in the beginning due to our baby’s lip and tongue ties, so although I was feeding her around the clock, I wasn’t producing quite as much milk as I thought. That, combined with little to no exercise outside of a daily 20-40 minute walk, meant that I wasn’t able to burn more than I was taking in from all the goodies. The result – weight gain AFTER baby. Not exactly what I expected.
I’m not going to lie and say that my weight gain doesn’t bother me. I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life (I’ve never considered myself someone who is naturally thin) and these last 4 years I’ve finally been proud of my body and I’ve worked hard for it. While I am VERY proud of my body for being able to create a healthy little baby girl and deliver her naturally into this world, I must admit I cringe when I see full body pictures of myself. Those extra 22 pounds I’m carrying aren’t my friend. And worse than looks, most of my clothes don’t fit which means I’m still wearing some maternity clothes, but mostly workout clothes. Since being cleared to exercise, I’ve also tried to eat healthier (without being on any sort of plan or diet), while also allowing for indulgences, but the scale hasn’t moved despite these changes.
I’ve done research on diet and exercise and it’s effect on breastfeeding mothers and from what I have read, dieting is not recommended before the baby is 2 months of age. It’s also not recommended that you lose more than 1.5 pounds a week and don’t do any crash diets for risk of hurting your milk supply. As Siena approaches her 2 month birthday (Thursday! Wow!), it’s time to get back on the horse and keep myself accountable when it comes to diet and exercise. While I tend to be really good at the exercise part, my diet has really taken a turn for the worse in the last year or so.
Why am I sharing this with you? Partially, because writing is my outlet and partially because I’m sure there are other moms out there who are in the same boat. Probably a lot more moms than are in the “the weight just fell right off of me” boat. I want to lose this weight in a healthy way – with a slightly reduced calorie diet (I won’t go below 2000 calories a day) and exercise so that I can still provide food for my baby. I want to do it in a way that allows me to indulge a times but to also feel good about the foods I’m putting in my body. I’ll be writing about my plan for weight loss in another post. My husband Mike also gained weight after the baby was born and we are working on a plan to get back in shape together.
To finish, I have to say that although the weight bothers me I really wouldn’t trade it for the world. I was lucky to have an relatively easy pregnancy and a healthy baby girl, and the weight gain is an easy sacrifice for those things. It’s also a temporary change to my body and certainly not one to lose sleep over! I do, however, enjoy fitting in my clothes and feeling confident in how I look. I also feel much better overall when I’m eating food that is good for my body. I really love a challenge and shedding this weight is my new focus (outside of parenthood of course!).
Did you struggled with the weight after the baby or did you have an easy time bouncing back?
Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy
First of all, you look great!! Second, I think the breastfeeding thing is a myth. Everyone I’ve known who nurses hasn’t lost their weight until they stopped. I’m not breastfeeding and I lost my weight quickly once my milk dried up. So maybe your body just needs a little bit of extra weight right now in order to feed your baby! I understand wanting to feel good in your body again, though, and I hope you’re able to feel that soon!
Thanks! And yes I do wonder if breastfeeding is actually causing me to hold weight – but who knows!
i have to agree with this comment. I was in FANTASTIC shape when I gave birth and assured by everyone that I would also bounce back in no time. The weight never “fell right off me” despite the fact that everyone assured me that it would until I stopped nursing. Just remember that it took 10 long months to put that weight on so it’s ok if it takes 10 months (or longer) for it to come off.
I had my baby in January and it wasn’t until September that I reached my pre baby (non racing) weight. I gained about 40 lbs and only lost 18 from childbirth. It fell off slowly but consistently in spite of crappy diet and inconsistent exercise/sleep. Basically nine months on/nine months off was true for me and nothing I did helped or hurt it. It wasn’t until my son started eating way more solids that my running and body really went back to normal so breastfeeding hormones probably do have a big role to play.
I know we don’t know each other but I really wanted to comment. I have two daughters – my youngest is 15 months, so I’m pretty removed from pregnancy and the aftermath but not so far from it that I don’t remember the anxiety that comes along with it. From this position, reading your post I really hope and wish that you would resist the urge to limit your calories and worry about your weight at this stage. I know it’s an emotional topic, and carrying extra pounds is not easy or comfortable. But your baby is SO little, and things will get easier. I breastfed until 13 months for both kids and saw the biggest decrease on the scale between 6 and 9 months postpartum and now I’m well under my pre-pregnancy weight. When I went back to work I did have to buy a few pairs of pants in a bigger size, and that was humbling but at that point it was a comfort issue. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with cleaning up your diet (eating clean is good!) but please don’t count calories. There are so many reasons why you may not be losing weight right now, not the smallest factor being that you’re obviously not sleeping much and you’re nursing. I promise you when you read this post in a year you will wish you weren’t so hard on yourself.
Thanks Veronika! It’s hard not to think about it – I think mostly because of the clothes not fitting! It’s like every time I get dressed it reminds me. And I knew it would be this way it’s just hard living it! I don’t plan to cut way back on calories just change the quality of foods I’m eating and get more exercise and hopefully that just makes me feel better!
Thank you so much for sharing. I too have never been naturally thin. I fight for every pound lost, if you know what I mean. After my 1st it was a struggle but after my 2nd it was a little easier because I had changed to a healthy lifestyle even before I got pregnant with my 2nd. So the habits were there. I am sure you will get back into the swing of things. I look forward to reading about your plan. I am always looking for tips & new ideas to improve my healthy lifestyle. I feel it is so important to be a healthy example for my children. Thanks again, I really enjoy your blog. 🙂
I love reading your posts. Your accomplishments and struggles are something a lot of us can identify with. It’s refreshing to hear someone talk about the triumphs and the pains along the way. I think you are doing a fantastic job. Motherhood is extremely difficult. There are so many uncertainties; so many times we worry needlessly. I can say this NOW because my children are 25 and 22 years old. Wow, I think back to when they were tiny and the amount of worry I had. Everything always works out. It always does. So enjoy your time with your new family. And try not to worry to much. However, being an extreme planner myself, I completely understand your need to have a plan and goals and I applaud you for this. However, don’t let it consume you so that you don’t enjoy the little things – especially your precious little girl. All things in time. Good luck to you guys. And keep up the good work.
As someone who also gained 45 lbs with both of my pregnancies (also started on the thinner side), I can say that it does not “fall off” and as mentioned above, I found that breastfeeding made me hold onto some weight (maybe only 5 lbs, but I think it was all in my boobs!). It took me a good 6 months to see the pre pregnancy weight after both kids BUT my clothes DO NOT fit the same. My youngest is 2, and it has taken me until this year to actually stop trying to pretend I will fit back into some of my clothes and try on clothes before buying them to see if they fit right, rather than look at the size. Thanks for being honest about your thoughts, and I agree with the above poster who said not to analyze your diet too much- just focus on eating mostly clean.
I think you look great! We are all our own worst critics. I’ve been struggling with the same thing. I don’t feel comfortable in my body & I’m living in workout clothes. I don’t think I’m losing the weight because of breastfeeding. Allie is now 3 months old & she can go to the gym daycare so I’ve been going a lot more this week. I keep reminding myself that it took 9 months for me to gain the weight so it will take 9 months to lose.
Aw thanks! So true – can’t lose it all overnight and it wouldn’t be safe to do so anyway. We’ve just got to do our best! And I agree I look at you and other new moms and don’t think twice about their weight so why should I give myself a hard time?!
Jen @ Pretty Little Grub
I really appreciate your honesty in this post. I know I would struggle with extra weight too. But I think you’re taking a really good perspective & approach to trying to lose the weight.
I think as runners and athletes, it is hard to let our bodies not be in the shape we have seen them in before. I am hitting 11 months post baby and was 137 when I got pregnant (which is super low weight) and was 203 lbs when I delivered my son. I still am about 12 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight and I’m still breastfeeding. I still have that little inner tube and my boobs are still huge and I truly think that these are due to holding on to a bit of fat store for BF. That being said, working full time, new mom, and life my diet and exercise has been all over the place.
You look amazing and are so motivated and motivating. Like others said, give yourself time to enjoy that precious baby and the little twiks you said will definitely help you see results.
I just wanted to echo some of what others said. I struggled with my weight much of my life, including mild anorexia in high school. I was also on the thin side when I got pregnant with my first – and I gain 60 pounds! In part due to severe “morning sickness” (all day) until about the 24 week mark, where all I could stomach was carbs and cheese (grilled cheese, quesadillas, Mac n cheese, etc), and in part because I had severe edema. I lost the first 35 instantly, 40 by about a month… Then I stopped until 6 months postpartum. I really struggled with it. I’d start to decrease my food intake, then see my milk production from pumping plummet. Like others have said, and my OB confirmed, my body needed that extra 10-15 pounds to continue making quality and sufficient breastmilk. My OB also said it was very common to hang onto weight, and that lots of Drs talked up weight loss as a way to encourage breastfeeding. When I started to wean him, I dropped 10 pounds in an instant. That last 10 lbs stuck around until I weaned #2.
I’m now back to approximately pre-baby weight, maybe even a little thinner (slightly heavier, since I have more muscle). But I did have to give away a bunch of things, since my stomach is just thicker. It’s worth it. Some new clothes that fit may go a long way towards acceptance – just think of them as ‘avoiding maternity clothes’ for future pregnancies (I got to ~26 weeks for#2 with my ‘fat’ clothes from #1!)
Kristen @ Glitter and Dust
Our experiences have been very similar. I gained roughly 45 pounds and started off on the thin side given that we had just ran the marathon. During the first two weeks postpartum I lost 30 pounds almost instantly. In the following two weeks I lost a couple more and then it came to a standstill for a month. My weight just hovered around 151-152 and would not budge. Now that I am three months postpartum and have been exercising more, I have lost a total of 37 pounds. I’m pretty sure this is going to be my weight for a while as I continue to breastfeed. My doctor said it is completely natural for the body to hold on to fat stores in order to supply the breast milk. Yes, breastfeeding burns more calories, but I’m also eating more calories in order to keep up my supply.
I ended up buying a couple pairs of jeans that fit me comfortably and have added some looser tops to my wardrobe. I’m holding onto my pre-pregnant wardrobe in hopes that my clothes will fit me again someday. Like others have mentioned, it is possible that my body shape changed and I may never again fit the same styles as I once did. I hope this isn’t the case though – I have a lot of cute clothing just waiting to be worn. 🙂 Hang in there… we are doing the best we can! <3
Oh, I can totally relate to this. I had friends tell me they just fit into their regular clothes weeks after having their baby! One coworker said she even left the hospital in her regular jeans. One ill fated day, about a week after having my first, I pulled on my beloved jeans, only to find they didn’t pull up past my wide hips. What a sobering moment.
Even though I breastfed exclusively for the first year, the weight never really fell off until my daughter was closer to a year. I really think my body was holding onto the extra weight for fuel. My body needed to make milk! Everyone is different; my sister was her thinnest while nursing, I was hefty until I stopped. But, our bodies are smart and will go back to the way we were sooner or later. 🙂
This is such a great post! And I love reading all the comments. I had the same experience of being unable to lose all the weight while breastfeeding, but pretty much as soon as I stopped, it came right off and I weighed less than pre-pregnancy. I thought it was just me lacking will power, since everyone talks about all the calories breastfeeding burns, so it’s really encouraging to read all these comments from women who experienced the same thing. I definitely agree with the comment about buying some slightly bigger clothes. You WILL fit into your regular clothes again, but in the meantime, you’ll feel so much better with cute, non-maternity clothes that fit just right, and it’s a good point that you’ll use them again when pregnant with baby #2 someday. Have you tried StitchFix? I’ve had an awesome experience with it so far, actually started doing it while pregnant. For my latest “fix” that arrived in my 8th month of pregnancy, I asked for comfy but cute nursing and post-partum -friendly clothes, and ended up keeping everything the stylist sent me because she did such a good job picking pieces that would fit post-partum and even later (like skinny black jeans that have a stretch waist!).
I can’t believe I’m about to go through another year (if it’s like last time) of feeling uncomfortable with my weight, but like you said – it is definitely worth it, and is a short time in the grand scheme of things. Keep writing about this, it definitely helps to read about other women’s experiences!
I have been following your blog for some time now and let me just say I appreciate your honesty when you post about your struggles. This one hit home for me. I gained 50 pounds during pregnancy and still have a ways to go. I think the hardest part for me is finding time to exercise consistently. I am a stay-at-home mom who works part-time and with all of the responsibilities it’s hard to find time to workout. The #1 thing people will say to me is workout with your baby. Let me tell you; that’s not so easy. I am only now able to do that (my son is 15 months old now). When my son was younger than a year, I couldn’t. He would get so bored in the jogging stroller or he would realize he’s hungry (he was EBF until 6 months). Then by the time we would get back, I would be exhausted from working out and I’d have to sit down to feed him. Oh boy, sometimes it felt like it just wasn’t worth it. I then took the advice of moms in the other camp: exercise when baby naps. When my son was 6 months old, I ordered Shaun T’s Focus T25 and stuck with it. During the first month, I lost 12 pounds. I feel like it was perfect for me: 25 minutes a day and minimal equipment necessary. After completing one round of the program, I felt like I had more energy to take care of my son and to get the other million things we have to do as moms. I want to end with this: you’re doing a great job. Go, mama!
Heather @Fit n Cookies
I feel like I could have written this myself- definitely have the same feelings! You look fantastic, but I know what you mean about looking at pictures of yourself, and the clothes not fitting. I feel the same way and though people say I look great, the weight I’m holding onto definitely bothers me still. I have started exercising, and can say that more did fall off quickly, but I’m in no way back to pre-pregnancy weight. I do wonder about the breastfeeding thing, too. First, that milk and big boobs definitely adds some weight, haha! But, I have heard from both extremes of it helping to lose weight quickly and some who say it didn’t go away until they stopped. So interesting!
This is a tough topic. I’m glad you are sharing your struggles, because I know many others feel the same as you. For me, the number on the scale is pretty close to pre-pregnancy, but I know I’ve lost a lot of muscle/strength. My body is still soft, with extra fat around the middle. I think trying to continue focusing on general healthy eating and getting back into your active lifestyle is the way to go. When your body is ready, it will return to your goal weight. I think we need that extra fat to keep up with the breastfeeding. I feel like I’m needing to eat as much as I did in peak marathon training! Haha! So, just keep doing what your body needs 🙂
Thanks for sharing this honest take with us. It was really interesting to read and I appreciate you writing about it. Siena is beautiful and you look gorgeous. With your drive and passion, I know you will be where you want to be when your body is ready and a little more time. You have such a beautiful family and I’m so very happy for you. xo