Today’s Guest Writer is my dear friend Maureen. We call her Mo Mo I have known Mo for 25 years! She has graciously shared her story about after baby weight loss and tips she has for healthy eating when you are breastfeeding.
On October 30, 2011 we welcomed our first child, a beautiful baby girl. I had a typical first pregnancy in that, like many others, I gained A LOT of weight. In total, I gained about 60 pounds. I say “about” because I stopped counting on my due date, but I was nearly a week overdue and it felt like I was getting bigger by the second. Despite my mother-in-law gasping when I told her how much weight I had gained toward the end of my pregnancy, I realize that it’s actually pretty common to gain 50 lbs. or more. I heard somewhere that even Kelly Ripa gained 80 lbs. with one pregnancy. Of course what’s important is that our baby was born strong and healthy weighing in at 9 lbs. 5 oz. By the time I got home from the hospital, I was down 16.5 lbs. By Thanksgiving I was down a full 35 lbs. I was so happy with this progress. I wasn’t really even trying to lose the weight and it was just coming off. I thought to myself, “at this rate I’ll be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by New Years!”
Yet here we are in mid-March, over 4 months post baby, and I’m stuck! The scale has not budged for the last 3 months. So I’m not struggling to lose the last 5 or 10 lbs. as I had anticipated, I’m already struggling and I have twenty-five pounds to go!
I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I am breastfeeding and everyone always says that helps the weight drop off and it sure seemed like it did in the beginning. Somehow the weight loss just stopped! After I wore out the “it’s the holidays” excuse I decided to get serious and start dieting. I began counting calories and really paying attention to what I ate. I was STARVING! At the end of a week, I had gained 2 lbs. I just couldn’t stick to it. I no longer had the cravings I did while I was pregnant, but the sheer volume of food I needed to eat in order not to feel hungry was astounding. When I cut back I just got too hungry and ended up binging.
Then one day I was skimming through my emails and there was one from a mommy site that I subscribe to that caught my attention. A member had posted a message that read,
“I’m breastfeeding and I am not losing weight. What’s wrong?”
I clicked on it immediately, relieved that this woman was experiencing the same difficulties I was. There were dozens of responses and they pretty much all said the same thing. None of them had lost weight until they STOPPED breastfeeding. I couldn’t believe it. That’s not what I had always heard, but the more I talked to my own friends that had breastfed, many said the same thing. It’s like you could actually hear the bubble bursting.
What? Breastfeeding was supposed to be a win/win, right?
Good for baby and good for mom.
Well, for many women, that turns out not to be the case on the weight loss front. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad that I’m breastfeeding and wouldn’t change it for anything, but I had planned on breastfeeding for a full year and it seems unreasonable to wait that long to lose the weight.
I did some reading and learned that in order to breastfeed you need an additional 500 – 700 calories per day. Quite a bit more than the approximate 300 calories additional you need during pregnancy. I also learned that losing more than 1.5 – 2 lbs. per week can affect your milk supply impacting you baby’s health and your ability to breastfeed. I certainly didn’t want this to happen. So I tried to figure out what was reasonable for me, my body and my baby. I paid close attention to my diet for 3 days. What I was eating, when I was hungriest, when I felt that I was overeating and what made me feel satisfied. I noticed that, for the most part, I was doing well with breakfast and lunch, but ended up eating too much in the evenings.
Right now I work from home and take care of my baby full time, so making healthy dinners every day is not always possible. I try to prepare dinners on Sundays to be able to just heat up when needed, but some days there is nothing prepared and I don’t have time to cook, so it’s either take out or pizza. It’s not the best, but right now it’s my reality so I needed to find a way to work within it.
I decided to supplement what I was eating with healthy snacks so that I didn’t get too hungry in between meals or at the end of the day.
Some of my go-to snack solutions are:
- Individual serving bags of popcorn, edamame,
- Fiber One bars
- Yogurt squishers/go-gurt frozen
- Clementine cuties that I peel and freeze for about 30 minutes
- Roasted unsalted almonds
Everything that isn’t already pre-portioned I pre-measure myself into baggies so that I don’t overindulge. On the nights when we do get take out, I just watch my portions and if I’m hungry again later, which happens a lot, I have one of my snacks.
At the end of my first week of incorporating these simple changes I lost 2 lbs. The fact that the changes were so simple and easy has been really motivating. I have always felt that I needed to track every calorie, workout at least an hour a day and if I cheated all progress would be lost. As a new mom, there is no way I could possibly maintain that sort of rigid plan. So I could not be more thrilled with my little win. It’s only 2 lbs., but it’s a start. Someone told me “nine months to put it on and nine months to take it off.” It’s not going to be a fast and easy fix, but it’s realistic and I know that is what’s going to work for me.
I’m wondering what’s worked for you?
Has anyone else had the same issues?
Have any great tips?
What helped you lose the weight?
Maureen Erickson is a wife and mom who works full time as an Account Executive at a promotional branding agency. She lives in sunny Orange County, CA.