Getting back in shape is a pretty top priority after giving birth. At a minimum, you’re restricted from working out for at least 6 weeks, and that number can climb if you’ve had a C section or other complication.
The number one thing I have always heard is that breastfeeding will get you back to your pre-baby body at lightning speed. It shrinks the uterus faster, burns an insane amount of calories, and helps everything recover while you rest and feed your child. Seems like a win-win. A no-brainer.
Lately I’ve been seeing an unusually large amount of information about breastfeeding and weight loss/dieting all over social media platforms. Pinterest especially seems flooded with links to articles that are talking about the subject, so I thought I would add my own two cents to the mix.
All those articles are crap. At least for my body.
When I went in for a checkup 4 months postpartum, I had a rude awakening. For me, losing weight meant seriously compromising my milk supply. Even a few pounds lost by moderately exercise and healthy eating made my milk drop to below the level my baby needed – and he let me know!
Immediately I had to begin downing Mother’s Milk tea like it was water, while praying that the milk would come back in full force. We were obviously not ready for solids when this happened, so I was literally driving myself crazy about what I would do if I could no longer provide him with the food he needed.
The milk quickly came back, thank goodness. But so did the weight. My face had begun to thin out, and the water I had been retaining in my arms, thighs, and stomach had gone down. But as the milk increased, it seemed that my body kicked into survival mode and began hoarding everything again.
What do I mean about weight gain? Really it was just a few pounds. But the pounds looked like more, because my body was holding it in all the places a woman doesn’t want extra fat. Those are the areas that women store fat for a reason, as I’ve learned the hard way.
In order to provide Griffin with food, my body had to have a certain amount of fat present to create milk.
My doctor explained this, telling me that when I gave birth, I lost all the weight I had gained during pregnancy, and then some. My body couldn’t sustain milk production since I didn’t have any fat stores, so it had to create some. Granted, it really wasn’t a whole lot. But when you’ve spent years making sure this doesn’t happen, it can be very disheartening to see instant fat and cellulite appear!
Breastfeeding really does burn between 400-600 calories a day. But you have to consume that much additional in food to keep the milk supply up. So really it’s a catch-22.
No amount of cardio or yoga will get rid of the extra padding if I want to maintain my milk supply. And I’m just about to the point of learning to love this body that provides food for my child. I can certainly wait until he weans to really get back to my old workout routine. In the meantime, I am continuing to eat a ton of healthy food full of good fats, while doing yoga so that my body knows it can’t begin to slack up!
In fact, Griffin has been attending some mommy baby yoga classes with me lately, and he loves it. It’s also a great way to get him acclimated to other babies. Plus I get to meet moms that share many of the same interests as I do.
My hope in sharing this is that new moms will realize that breastfeeding is the most amazing thing you can do for your baby, but it is not something to be done with the sole purpose of weight loss. Sure, people lose weight if they have a significant amount to lose, but in the long run your body needs fat in order to create food.
I’ll be heading to the beach this weekend, and will wear a bikini…along with a coverup. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to shed the outer layer and get a tan, either. I really want to embrace who I am and what I’m capable of – creating and sustaining life!