Weighty Matters

Talk to almost any mother about what they regret about pregnancy, and most of them will say the weight gain. Even if the experience itself was emotionally idyllic, it is hard for most moms to watch themselves put on weight—even though they know it is for a good cause! It is even harder when the weight doesn’t come off.

I had four babies and four different experiences with weight. For my first three boys, I pretty much gained the same amount of weight and had the same look. But I lost it differently: with one baby I lost most of it except 2 or 3 pounds; with the second I lost most of it except between 5-10 pounds, and with the third I lost more weight and went under my usual weight by about 5 pounds.  (With all I did sit-ups but no real diets or exercise plans.) With all of them I gained more weight than was recommended, about 50 pounds. Then I had my fourth baby, a girl, and I gained 55-60 pounds and could only lose about 30 afterwards. No matter what I did, diet or pig out, I stayed at the same weight.

This was discouraging so I read up on the subject and found out that nursing sometimes causes postpartum weight loss and other times it keeps the pounds on. Whereas some women slim down quickly, others stay the same until they stop nursing. Usually stopping nursing causes a 5-10 pound drop, depending on how much weight you are running over. So it is best to get close to your normal weight but not push it if you can’t lose that extra last bit until you stop nursing. Other women experience a combination of influences, keeping the extra baby fat on while nursing in the beginning but losing it after awhile. The 9-month mark is a common weight loss month for this type of woman. Perhaps because that is how long it took to put the weight on! Or perhaps because the average baby’s eating patterns and needs have changed substantially by that point.

All of these scenarios are normal, so don’t panic if you can’t lose the weight right after your pregnancy like your friend did. Or even if you did in a prior pregnancy! Settle for eating as healthy as possible and starting to exercise. It is SOOO hard to keep exercising when you don’t see that scale needle moving, but it is very good for your body and helps build back a lot of the muscle you lost while you were pregnant. Gaining muscle will help you lose weight later. Also, exercise jump starts your metabolism. Whereas your pregnancy metabolism was slower so you could accumulate weight and retain water, your postpartum metabolism (and post-nursing) should be higher. But sometimes it takes a “jolt.” Dieting alone will not accomplish this; you’ll just find yourself trying to cut out more and more calories which is not only unsafe but depressing. I found that sometimes skipping the dieting and just exercising was enough to make me lose weight. It really is more important, assuming you are eating relatively healthily.

And I hate to say it, but I also found that calories from caffeine and chocolate must have been different from others. Because when my diet included coffee and sweets, I couldn’t lose weight even if I cut down on everything else. As soon as I rid myself of them, I became svelte. This was SO annoying because I LOVE coffee and chocolate. But just FYI if you happen to be experiencing a stall too.

Above all, get a good friend who can support you. One who understands, encourages you to do the right thing, and is preferably five pounds overweight too 😉 Read the healthy literature to get your mind back on track, keep the scale out so you’re motivated each morning, but don’t get all legalistic about the numbers. Take care of your baby and your good outlook on life first.

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