Losing the baby weightPosted: February 1, 2013
Because who am I to deny the jessicasimpsonification of popular postpartum discussion, I too shall weigh in on the low-tact discussion of getting “back into shape” after having a baby. But I will try to have some tact.
Based on my experience, I have only one tip: breastfeed.
The tact I promised:
Not everyone can or wants to breastfeed. I chose and was able to do so, and because of it I lost all the pregnancy weight I’d gained (40 pounds) in a month. I absolutely do not promise this is or will be the case for everyone.
I really can’t attribute the weight loss to anything else, except maybe eating well and having kept in shape by walking, a lot, including 129 stairs almost every day, while pregnant, because for that first month after Henry was born I was forced to be quite inactive due to my post-Cesarean complications. Though I was sedentary, the weight came off – fast.
Breastfeeding burns many calories, and I found myself either stuffing my face or falling asleep (or both) after. When Henry was a newborn it took at minimum a half an hour for him to nurse, and at the end our core temperatures were both a few degrees higher.
I could use this space to explain that women have better things to worry about after having a baby than losing weight, and that society should celebrate women of all shapes, and that women should not be pressured in the slightest to get back to their pre-baby weight at any time – for I believe all of these things – but I also do not begrudge women for whom looking normal (by their definition) again after pregnancy is a priority. Women who want to lose weight after pregnancy are not antifeminist.
For about three weeks postpartum I not only felt heavy but misshaped (not even considering my excessively swollen legs and feet). I worried about feeling “right” again in my body. Then at about 3 weeks I was almost back to my pre-baby weight, and I felt denied my baby fat and misshapen body, for it was just one more sign that I was no longer pregnant. With Henry arriving early and entirely unexpectedly, my rapid weight loss was just another way in which I hadn’t been given enough time to mourn the transition from pregnancy to motherhood. At that three week mark I had still expected to be pregnant, and I was still angry about being denied my last weeks of being pregnant with him. This was the hardest part about having a baby early – how much I missed him.
Cue the “It could have been worse”s and “You should be happy you lost the weight so fast”s. I hear them. I say them myself. I acknowledge all of my blessings. I’m not asking 9-month-pregnant women to love their situation or new mothers to be happy with their awkward, chubby bodies. But it is worth being a little precious about it. I still miss my swollen pregnant face daily.