Cloaked in baggy clothes that are somewhere between “I’m pregnant” and “I’m just chunky”, you shake your fist at the sky and shriek, “Is it too much to ask to just fit into my freaking jeans?! I’m a reasonable person. I’ll even take my fat jeans. Come on, universe…why are you doing this to me? I am breastfeeding. WEIGHT LOSS WAS PART OF THE DEAL!”
Breastfeeding Losing Weight Myths
Weight gain, stretch marks, the postpardum jelly-belly…it was part of pregnancy. While you came to grips with what had become your body, you knew that it was temporary. After all, your plan was to breastfeed, which makes pounds fly off, obviously. That’s what everyone said.
But here you are, weighing obsessively and stepping off of the scale as quickly as your let-down reflex. That damn scale isn’t budging. Before you throw the “shame machine” out with the Diaper Genie sausage, let’s examine some breastfeeding losing weight myths.
- Myth: Your body burns tons of calories making milk. Truth: Your milk factory is pretty efficient. It only takes about 300-400 calories (this can be easily achieved with one cup of Ben and Jerry’s.)
- Myth: If you breastfeed, you will be back to your pre-pregnancy weight in 6 weeks.Truth: It takes most women about a year to get back to pre-pregnancy weight-whether they breastfeed or not. Many nursing moms experience breastfeeding weight gain.
- Myth: When breastfeeding losing weight is effortless. Truth: Though what you are doing is nothing short of miraculous, the properties of physiology are not suspended due to breastfeeding. The same guidelines of 1-2 pounds per week when eating healthy still apply. (I’m sorry, and I’m glad that I am not within striking distance right now.)
Breastfeeding Weight Gain
This is the ultimate ripoff. In order to abolish the self-loathing that you are undoubtetdly suffering, we should explain what’s going on here.
You are undeinably sleep deprived. Between your baby singing the songs of his people in the wee hours and your hormonal overload, sleep is a distant memory. Really deep sleep is a joke. A person who gets less than six hours of sleep per night is dealing with two disadvantages where weight is concerned: metabolism and hormones. First, your metabolism is much slower on less sleep. Second, the hormone ghrelin ( that tells you to eat) is elevated while the hormone leptin (that tells you to stop eating) is lowered.
Breastfeeding itself stimulates hunger. The additional calories that are used to manufacture breast milk are noticed by your body, which in turn makes you hungry. Have you ever been so busy nursing, changing diapers, loading things into the car and out of it, running errands, working a full-time job, and somehow taking care of the needs of the other humans that reside with you that the first sign of hunger was an all-out panic? At that point, you would shovel drywall into your mouth…but there happens to be a bag of Doritos on the counter (correction, there used to be a bag of Doritos. Now there is a bag next to a mom covered in Dorito dust.) Your body got its way.
Well, at least you have time to exercise, right? Enough said.
My point here is that of course you’ve gained weight. Your weight gain is not the appalling thing. The appalling thing is that we don’t talk about this before women give birth. It’s sh*tty to keep dangling the “breastfeed and you will lose weight effortlessly” carrot in front of pregnant women.
I’m breastfeeding and not losing weight. What can I do?
Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry. Drink when you are thirsty. You were thrown a bunch of propaganda BS. I’m sorry about that. This is a prime opportunity to travel the road of self-acceptance. Live where you are and find your beauty in the astonishing act that you are committed to- breastfeeding your child. Look in the mirror. You’re beautiful. See yourself through the eyes of that baby and the people in your tribe that are enamored with you. You deserve self-compassion. I know that you want to strut yourself in those jeans. It will come. I promise (and you will certainly be a head-turner). For now, let go of the expectations, the calorie-counting, and the shame and allow yourself to be captivated with that woman in the mirror.
Take care of yourself. Rest as much as you can. Nourish yourself. Grow in your own journey of self-compassion. You are a mommy. You’re unstoppable.
This book shows you how to lose weight while breastfeeding in a healthy way and goes deeper to explain why weight doesn’t, in fact, fly off.