The Lighter Side of Postpartum Weight Loss
I’m a mommy to three amazing children. I’ve been extremely fortunate that aside from a few small bumps in the road, my journey through mommyhood has been easy. My children have always been healthy (our only emergency being an Easter morning seizure and subsequent 3 day hospital visit). My pregnancies were uncomplicated aside from pneumonia early in the first and placenta previa in the third. Though my births may not have been my ideal, they all resulted in a healthy mom and healthy baby.
Perhaps for me, though, nothing has been easier than postpartum weight loss. While many women struggle with losing weight after baby, it’s never been a problem for me. It helped that I worked really hard during my pregnancies to not gain too much weight (32 pounds with my first and third and 28 pounds with my second). I’m also an avid breastfeeder and I believe that has played a huge part in helping with easily losing the weight gained during pregnancy.
With my first two girls, I was back down to my normal weight by 2 months and lost a pound a month after that until I started giving them cups of milk instead of exclusive nursing. With my son, it took my 4 ½ months to get back to my normal weight, but since then (nearly 6 months) I’ve lost another 11 pounds.
I’m a former ballet dancer and so have always been conscientious of my weight, though I never took extreme measures aside from diet and moderate exercise to manage any changes. I discovered my “normal” weight over 7 years ago when I broke my foot. At the time I was taking ballet class 5 days a week and teaching another. When I broke my foot I had to stop dancing altogether for 12 weeks and in that time I LOST a pound a week (I’m assuming it was all my muscle!) That is the weight I easily maintained through my wedding and until I got pregnant and that is the weight I quickly returned to after my first two babies and the weight I returned to after weaning.
I know that most mommies struggle with losing the baby weight postpartum and I am fortunate that it’s not been a problem for me. I feel lucky that aside from a little extra bulge in the belly that proves my mommy of three status, I have no complaints about my postpartum body (don’t hate me, but I even survived all three pregnancies with no stretch marks on my stomach or boobs).
But the thing is, I don’t feel like a sexy, slim or beautiful woman that others should envy. People have started commenting on how much weight I've lost and say things like "you're wasting away!" and I joke that my son is "eating me alive" but the truth is: I feel like crap.
I’m weak, exhausted and struggle with bouts of lightheadedness (presumably due to an iron or other vitamin deficiency despite taking a daily prenatal vitamin) and all of that makes me irritable and esaily stressed. My hair is dry, brittle and falls out in ridiculous amounts. My body has become so bony it’s uncomfortable to sit, lay, kneel or lean on harder surfaces.
My clothes (specifically my pants and skirts) just hang off my hips and I constantly sport a “saggy bottom” look. Even the clothes I bought after losing so much weight after my first two are too big now and I can’t justify buying new clothes when I know I’ll gain the weight back after I wean.
I’m insatiably hungry and though I can eat most anything I want and will still lose weight, I know I don’t eat enough because I just don’t have time. I try to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet but I don’t always have the energy to make proper meals and fall into eating what’s easy which helps satiate the hunger but does nothing for my deficiencies. And so it becomes a cycle: I feel bad, I eat something easy, I don't get the nutrients I need, I feel bad...
My issues with weight loss are not something I discuss with people very often. I know too many moms who struggle with postpartum weight loss and I do not ever want to alienate them or make them feel bad. But it's also because I worry that I will be judged, seen as a whiny, complaining or unappreciative which in this sitatuation, I am none of.
So before you look at me and think “wow, she’s lucky it’s so easy for her,” remember there are two sides to every coin and just because a mommy LOOKS good, doesn’t mean she FEELS good and easily losing weight doesn’t always mean an easy time.