This is a note I am writing to myself should I get pregnant with baby number three. It is also a note that I wish I would have read (and believed!) over and over when I went through my first two pregnancies. Here we go…
Pregnancy is one of the finest experiences that you will ever embark on in your life. Ever. To focus intently on the numbers on the scale is doing yourself a disservice and much less, the female baby-making population a disservice. But I know you, and I know you will. The first time you see those numbers tick up and subsequently tick up, you’ll lose heart and most importantly faith in your body, which is the exact opposite of what you should be doing!! Take a deep breath and know that your body is smarter than you are. Your body doesn’t care about the scale, it cares about growing and protecting one of life’s most precious miracles that you’ll ever come to know… your child.
Be kind to yourself and most importantly have grace with yourself. Rather than focusing on weight during this time, do what makes you feel healthy and strong, and nothing else. Don’t listen to people/media sources/your friends/yourself about what you should be doing or where your body should be at. Seriously. And don’t you dare compare yourself to other women. I know you will, but this is poison for your psyche.
As for the postpartum period, give yourself tiiiimmmmeeee to heal. Like I’m talking two years for your body and hormones to return back to normal before you even THINK about losing weight. The closer your babies are together, the more time you need. The postpartum period (two years plus for some women) is not the time to focus on weight loss because you will fight a losing battle and your hormones, my friend, will win every time. If you want to go batshit crazy, go for it, try and lose weight. I dare you. Once again, your body will outsmart you because it knows better.
Be prepared to gain weight, lose weight, or stay at the same weight (above your pre-pregnancy weight) or all of the above, well before you return back to your normal physique. Remind yourself that this is normal and is your body's way of healing and normalizing. Once again, trust in the process. To think that you will drop weight right away or magically lose weight at a certain point because that is what happened to Sally will not work in your favor. You are doing yourself an injustice to set unrealistic expectations. Once again, time is your friend and your body knows what it is doing.
If you do decide to focus on weight loss, keep in mind that you are not playing by the same rules as you used to be during normal weight loss circumstances. During the postpartum weight loss game, you’ll be up against prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin can play a role in reducing your metabolic rate, while oxytocin can affect both weight and appetite. Oxytocin is claimed to be the “feel good” hormone for some women, but not all women, and can actually lead to increased stress-producing experiences including loss of sleep and weight gain. If you fail to remember that you are up against hormones, you will make yourself legit crazy when you try and lose weight because it wont happen. Not to mention if you are breastfeeding and try to diet, you’ll risk losing your milk supply and/or pt yourself at risk for postpartum depression and anxiety. Remember that? Literally, hell. My best advice is to wait for those factors to stabilize which can take up to two years before you think about successful and healthy weight loss.
So, during the postpartum period you need to freaking eat, you need family/friends to help, you need to rest and you need to take care of yourself. If you don’t, don’t be surprised when postpartum depression and anxiety comes knocking on your door. Oh, and by the way, don’t expect to be in a bikini for two years after you have a baby. THAT is a reasonable expectation. If anyone says otherwise, they are in the MINORITY that loses fast (great for them but not the norm) or they are going through unhealthy measures that they will pay for through adrenal/thyroid issues or other ailments. Listening to people/media/experts/yourself say that you can and should lose weight within the first two years postpartum is poison for a mother’s brain. Seriously. Let your body do it’s thing and remember during this time that the scale is your worst enemy.
Instead, focus on things that lift you up, make you happy, healthy and stronger. Workout when you are ready, it will work wonders for your body and mind. Only do so when your body signals that it is ready. Screw the “six week” mark clearance for working out. It’s bull sh*t. TRUST YOUR BODY. If you are not ready, then don't workout. Simple as that. Remember it's more like TWO years to heal; not six weeks.
Also, eat healthy. Don’t listen to people about low-carb this or 21 day fix that. DON’T DO IT. Eat healthy and balanced. Focus on whole foods and nourish your body. Your body and your baby needs you to! Enjoy your kids. Go outside and get fresh air. Relax. Time is your friend when it comes to healing your hormones and your body after having a baby. So remember this! Enjoy it! You only get this opportunity to bring babies into this world a few times. So do it right, don’t taint it and share the knowledge with your mommy friends so we can change the stigma about pregnancy and postpartum weight expectations.