|In labor with baby #1 in January 2007. I was smiling because I FINALLY got to go to the hospital after three days of laboring at home.|
|Mid-contraction with baby girl in October 2008. A much, much, much easier birth than Jack’s.|
|Here’s comes #3 in October 2010. My water broke but, as you can tell, I’m not in pain. No contractions with this little guy until I got hooked up to some good ole Pitocin.|
I’ve been thinking about writing a post about losing baby weight for sometime. Yet another conversation with a postpartum friend this morning confirmed to me the importance of finally writing down my thoughts. Since I’m no expert at weight loss, I’ll simply share what I’ve learned after three pregnancies.
Giving birth to my three children have all been the most joyful events of my entire life so far. Seeing, smelling, touching a new little life that God created from nothing is nothing short of a witnessing a miracle. It wasn’t as hard as I expected to go without sleep, showers, or leaving my house for days on end after meeting my new little one. In fact, in those first few weeks, I didn’t even worry too much about how much my body had changed.
After the baby honeymoon wore off, however, I began noticing my “baby pooch”, wider hips and flabbier arms more. Why weren’t they departing as quickly as I’d like? How do I find time to workout at the gym? If I’m nursing, how am I supposed to cut my calories? It was easy to get discouraged.
When my trusted friend, Google, lied to me and told me that most women lose their baby weight by two months, I was even more discouraged. I’m here to tell you that’s bull hockey. Losing baby weight is a process. It took 9 months to put it on, and it takes a while to get it off. I didn’t feel and look back to my old self until 9-12 months later with all three of my kids. Losing weight and regaining my body required patience and a “slow and steady” approach.
Here are some tips that worked for me:
1) Try not to stress too much about your body or compare yourself to others. It’s just not helpful one bit. But, alas, this is what women do. It’s part of our fallen nature. So, this requires prayer!
2) Ask God to help you think rightly about your body and to put losing the baby weight in proper perspective. Ask for His help to lose weight in a healthy way that glorifies Him.
3) Adopt a “something is better than nothing” approach to exercise. My goal was and still is to do something on most days–usually 30-60 minutes but sometimes it’s only 10-15. Is that something going to the gym? Not often. Is it running for 30 minutes at a time like I used to? Nope. Aerobics classes? No way…all that bouncing around doesn”t work for this postpartum nursing mom’s body (no details, sorry). I usually walk before my husband leaves for work, do a simple weight routine at home during nap time, pop in a workout DVD, or ride my bike on the weekends.
4) Nurse, nurse, nurse. The longer you nurse your baby, the more you’ll see the weight come off over time. My goal is to nurse for 12 months and anything after that is bonus for my baby. There’s no milk that is cheaper or healthier for your baby and you!
5) Use sneaky exercise tactics, like I mentioned in my previous post. In other words, multitask. Run through the house or up the stairs while picking up toys. Jog in place while folding laundry. Do squats, lunges, crunches or push-ups during commercial breaks. Vacuum and sweep like you mean it. Play hard with your kids. I know it’s dorky, but it’s efficient and productive (and no one will ever know)!
6) Strap on the baby and go. I carried my babies in the Baby Bjorn all the time–around the house, out in the yard, around the neighborhood, at the mall. They love it, and it means I’m carrying an extra 10-20 lbs around. That translates to burning extra calories.
7) Consider adding 5-10 minutes more exercise in a day, once you have a simple routine established. By the end of the week, you’ve added in one more workout! I’ve been trying to do this recently by putting the baby in the Baby Bjorn and the older kids in the double stroller and walking around the block once in the evening. That means I’m carrying and/or pushing 100 extra pounds around!
8) Focus on eating foods that you enjoy and that provide you and your nursing baby with nutrients you need. Dieting does not work in the long run. Focusing on eating well and for the right reasons does.
For years, I made all these “dos and don’ts” rules for myself when it came to eating. This just led to guilt, binging, weight gain, and a general love/hate relationship with food and exercise.
Since having children, God has helped me to see food as a source of nourishment for the body He has given me and even a way I can glorify Him. He’s also helped me to see that eating isn’t just about me. Think of it this way: You’re no longer eating for yourself. You’re now eating for your nursing baby. You’re now an example for your children. It’s now imperative that you take good care of yourself in order to care well for your little ones.
Since making this shift in my thinking about eating, it’s amazing how much more I enjoy food and think of myself less often. I also have actually lost weight fairly effortlessly, as a result. A book that has helped me in my long journey was Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Breaking the Bondage of Destructive Eating Habits by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
9) Lastly, here’s something to keep in the back of your mind for the future. Adopting the “something is better than nothing” approach to exercise and focusing on eating well for God’s glory and my family is what helped me avoid gaining too much weight during my pregnancies. I encourage you to not give up on these approaches, even if you get pregnant again.
Sometimes the cliches are right. Slow and steady does win the race. Moderation truly is the key. Keep persevering all you postpartum mothers out there. You can do it!