There is this perception in the world today that mothers are meant to be slim again straight after having a baby. That somehow the weight just magically drops off and the belly disappears. Hollywood stars, sports stars and models seem to reflect this wonderful perception but the reality is most certainly different.
Today, Bella is 20 weeks old. That means she has been out of my womb just over half the length of time that she had been in it since she was born at 39 weeks and 4 days. Bella is growing well, continuing to be breast fed when I am home as well as expressed breast milk when I am at work. Unlike the magic perception of instant slimness, the weight has not magically disappeared. Apart from the initial weight loss caused from actually birthing a baby, I’ve lost pretty much nothing. In fact I actually put on weight just from the hunger that breastfeeding causes.
Oh yeah, did you know that? A few lucky women might lose weight from breastfeeding but the majority of us? Heck no. Far from making us lose weight, breastfeeding makes us HUNGRY! And I do mean hungry! A breastfeeding mother will find herself snacking on all sorts of sweet goodies to fill that hunger and that’s not a bad thing. That is their body telling them that they need the extra calories to produce good baby growing milk. But thanks to the media of the day, women are under the impression that they can control that hunger and that all they need is an extra 500 calories to boost their breast milk. The reality is much harder than that though.
I struggle with my eating. I keep a food diary. I log my meals. I try not to go over my daily calorie budget. I exercise in the form of walking. I use myfitbit and myfitnesspal to combine both food and exercise to aid me in losing weight. But it just isn’t that simple for a breastfeeding mother. There are some days when the breastfeeding hunger just says “stuff the food control, I WANT… ” and that’s OK because, that is normal. Trying to lose weight when you’re breastfeeding is like trying to brushing your teeth with chocolate. It just doesn’t happen. At least not without a very strict personal trainer and dietitian but who has the time or money for that?
As for the tummy? Unless you are using wraps or had surgery, exercising hard out and controlling your hunger to the extreme, that just doesn’t go away. It gets smaller, very slowly,to the eventual point where it can be hidden under clothes. But it doesn’t ever really go away. I will always have a pouch or mummy apron left over from where I grew my babies. My tummy will always be a little soft and flabby from housing 4 babies for approximately 40 weeks. At just 20 weeks postpartum, I still look pregnant. Not just a little pregnant either. I still look at least 5 months pregnant. Which when you think about it is exactly half way through a pregnancy and exactly how long Bella has now been out.
Do I wish I looked like a supermodel 6 weeks after giving birth? Doesn’t everybody? But I don’t and I’m not going to give myself the unrealistic expectations of trying to be. I’m me. This is me at 20 weeks post-partum. This is a variation of normal. This is my normal.