“The weight will just melt off when you breastfeed,” they all said. “You’ll be back in your pre-pregnancy jeans in no time!”
So, so wrong they were. I’ve been nursing Stella for going on nine months and have maybe lost twenty pounds and a handful of inches. What gives? I thought I was supposed to burn 500 calories a day! How are these other moms bouncing back so darn fast? Having transitioned from my maternity clothes into my larger, looser fitting pre-pregnancy clothes, I’m devastated that I still rock the mom bod.
I chose to breastfeed not because of weight loss (that was just a perk) but because I knew it was best for baby. I continue producing enough for her needs and even have a little extra to store. She’s a perfect latcher and eats like a champ. I’m so happy she’s thriving because of me. But, I admit that I looked forward to being back in my old clothes and feeling sexy again. I want my husband to look at me the way he did when we were young, and I want passersby to stop and tell me, “There’s no way you just had a baby, you look so good!”
I really didn’t think it would take this long.
I do admit I was pretty gluttonous as a preggo–I couldn’t ever eat enough to satisfy myself. And because I never had morning sickness, I packed on the pounds like crazy. I think I gained close to 42 pounds. Doctors said not to worry, because I was smaller-framed to start with, and I’d have no problem losing the weight. Au contraire, doc. I’m still twenty pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, and I’m about nine months postpartum. And because Stella was only six pounds when she was born, all that extra weight I gained went straight to my thighs (no, really–it did). It didn’t magically fall off like they all said. Nope. Not for me.
As selfish at it sounds, I really want my old body back. I selflessly gave up my body and wardrobe for my sweet Stella, and I don’t regret that for a moment. But honestly, I looked forward to wearing my cute tanks, rompers, shorty shorts and new swimsuit this summer. Oh, how silly I was for thinking my body wouldn’t change. Not only the extra weight, but the shape. I didn’t think I’d fall victim to the mom bod, but I totally did. Wider hips, thicker thighs, love handles, saddlebags, flabbier arms, and tummy pooch. The research I’ve done about slow weight loss is correlated with hormones being out of whack due to breastfeeding–meaning that I likely won’t see any major weight loss until I wean.
Of course I’m proud of birthing my daughter, but I didn’t think I’d have an issue bouncing back. After all, because I had lost fifty pounds before getting pregnant, I know exactly what it takes to get back into shape. I eat well, work out daily, and try to get as much sleep as I can (keyword there is “try”). Even though I tried not to be too hard on myself at first, because pregnancy and giving birth are traumatic on the body, after months of staying the same weight, I felt discouraged. No matter if I ate a Snickers and a bag of chips or a cup full of organic berries and a salad, I still looked the same.
Becoming impatient and annoyed…
Although everyone reassured me that it will fall off eventually (9 months on, 9 months off), I found myself becoming jealous at friends who lost it all within three weeks and mad at myself for not being able to lose anything.
What were they doing that I wasn’t?
Why am I not back in my old jeans yet?
Is there something wrong with me?
Do I have to continue buying maternity clothes and much larger sizes?
Is the mom bod a forever thing?
It drove me crazy. Until recently, I had such a negative body image. The body I have now is so foreign to me. It’s like I’m trapped in this flabby, jiggly, pouch-belly coat that I can’t get out of. We’re always our own worst critic. Weighing the most I ever weighed during pregnancy was hard enough, but lacking self-confidence now is even harder. People tell me I look great, but I don’t believe them. Why can’t I just be happy in my own skin? I should be proud to have a mom bod and stretch marks – or should I say “tiger stripes.” After all, I earned them. But for some reason I just can’t let it go.
I don’t want to surrender.
I’m not ready to say goodbye to my old body, but I know things are different now. I have a daughter who looks up to me and loves me unconditionally no matter what I look like. Do I really want her seeing me look at my body in disgust? No. No, I don’t. That was my revelation.
I’m not yet where I thought I’d be, but I’m here. I’m healthy, happy, and providing nourishment for my daughter. Sure, my breasts, belly, and hips aren’t the same as before, but I’m so incredibly proud of what my body did and continues to do. I need to look at the silver lining and have a more positive body image–for me and for my daughter. I may not be able to lose the weight now, but who’s to say I’ll never be able to? With a little patience, encouragement, and perseverance, things will go back to normal–well, as normal as it gets for having a baby.
So for now, I’m rocking the mom bod–and I’m strangely ok with it.