Monday, June 9, 2014

Postpartum Weight Issues

The weekend I found out I was pregnant.
You've just had a baby. You are exhausted, your hormones have completely crashed, you are covered in a mixture of breast milk (or formula), spit up and baby pee (if you have a little boy you know what I mean). You feel lucky to get a shower and putting on makeup is a feat you would compare--at this point--to climbing Everest. Your body looks and feels completely different. The adorable, round tummy that you loved and once held your little one is gone and left in its place is a soft, poochy thing you don't recognize. And thank God for maternity clothes. Yep, you'll still be wearing them after you give birth. 

Postpartum body issues can be tough. Perhaps you're one of the lucky women who don't/won't struggle with these issues--and I hope you are. I, however, haven't been so fortunate.

Back in August 2013 when I found out I was pregnant, I had actually been trying to lose the approximately 30 pounds I had gained since Scott and I moved to Omaha. Why the weight gain? I went from working out almost daily (I worked as the marketing director for the YMCA at the time so I literally worked in a gym) to being really sedentary and the stress of a new city, new job and new home triggered my previously-resolved emotional eating issues. It was like the perfect storm for weight issues. 

I'm not going to lie--although I was thrilled to discover I was pregnant, my mind soon switched gears and I began to panic about my weight. I had hoped to lose 30 pounds and was now pregnant, which can typically cause the average woman to gain about 30 pounds (or more!). 

Me at nine months pregnant--about
 a week before having Jude.
During the nine months of my pregnancy, I worked fairly hard to maintain a healthy amount of weight gain. At my first pregnancy appointment I weighed 174 pounds. For the first six months my weight didn't increase a ton and my doctor was pleased. Starting the pregnancy overweight, it wasn't recommended that I gain a ton. But as any of you mamas know, some gain is inevitable and I ended my pregnancy at about 205 pounds.

After Jude was born, I was so worried about the baby weight coming off. Now, I know it doesn't work this way for everyone, but breastfeeding really helped me with this. At first I was exclusively breastfeeding and was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within two weeks! I was thrilled, naturally. 

Breastfeeding was getting more and more difficult, though. He didn't have a good latch from the beginning and my supply was really suffering. Because he wasn't gaining weight, I had to begin supplementing with formula (which devastated me, but more on that in a later post). Soon, I found that because I was not breastfeeding exclusively, my weight began to slowly creep up. 

Two days after giving birth. Getting ready to leave the hospital.
So, here I am, just over six weeks postpartum. I've decided that now is a good time for me to get my body and health back on track using Weight Watchers. About six years ago, I used Weight Watchers to lose weight I had been packing on before taking my job at the YMCA. The program worked really well for me and I was successful. As someone who has suffered with eating and body image issues in the past, I like this program because it doesn't restrict foods and creates a supportive environment. I'll be using my iPhone to track my Weight Watchers points and progress. I would also stress that I'm not planning to get too stressed out about the numbers on a scale. My main priority is my health and being fit and healthy for my little boy, my husband and of course, myself.

Because I'm a first-time mom, I don't have a ton of advice or wisdom for other moms dealing with weight or body image issues after the birth of their babies. But I can say that I empathize with you. In a society that puts airbrushed celebrity post-baby bodies on the covers of magazines and applauds these women for "having their bodies back" within mere weeks of giving birth, the pressure to look a certain way is real. And while I don't think it's bad to be concerned with your weight or health after giving birth, I think the best thing we new moms can be obsessed with in the postpartum period is our precious little babies. Our weight will still be here in a few months and we can work on it in our own time. Newborns, however, don't keep. 

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