I remember the first time being pregnant and soo many people telling me, “don’t worry, breastfeeding is great for weight loss!”
With many, many extra unnecessary kilos that I piled on pregnant with Josh, I felt this little security blanket, like, aside from all the benefits to baby, of breastfeeding will help me lose weight, thats a massive motivator to battle through those first really f*cking hard part when you first start to feed your baby.
And with Josh is was super hard… It wasn’t the “natural instinct” kind of thing I half expected it to be. He had a tounge tie that didn’t get released until he was about four weeks old. For those first four weeks, breastfeeding was agony, I’m not gonna lie. My nipples were cracked and bleeding and just generally sore.
He had a shallow latch and everytime I feed him, the moment I put him to my boob, I would hold my breath and wait for that kind of toe curling pain as he latched on. My midwife suggested I try to express so I could my husband to give him breastmilk in a bottle to give my boobs a break. I tried expressing at that point (I did a lot of expressing my first time breastfeeding, I haven’t used a pump once this time round cause of my negative associations to it I think!) and the milk was so mixed with blood that it was pink!
“That’s ok, you can still give it to him” she said. “yeah but what about my poor bleeding nipples?!?” I thought! Those first six weeks are a blurr of lanolin, topless time in the sun, lactation consultants, La Le Leache meets, tongue tie snip, perseverance and pain killers… And somehow we got through…
About seven or eight weeks in, something clicked. We both got better at it, we worked out how to sus a deeper latch, we learned tips and tricks and we practised hard. All of a sudden, it was more like that “natural experience” that I had initially expected, but it took us a lot of hard work at first to get there.
And through those hard times, now this part might sound vain, but of all the reasons I would repeat to myself that we needed to get this right, that breastfeeding was so important for me to be able to do, was that little personal benefit that it would help me lose weight.
And like three months in, with a newborn who feed around the clock, I suddenly realised I not only hadn’t lost any extra weight, but had well and truly retained my “baby weight” and more… And I was shattered.
Then I read about how some women lose weight with breastfeeding and others, well, some don’t. Breastfeeding, at least for me initially, made me gain it. I was sooo hungry breastfeeding, more than I was pregnant! It felt like he was sucking the life out of me but the fat stores.. well, not so much.
Then we hit somewhere between 9-12 months and he dropped a few feeds and all of a sudden, the weight started falling off without me trying! So I got motivated and started walking more (often with him strapped to my back, usually pushing an empty pram up and down the hills of Massey where we lived at the time) and in about the same time it took me to grow him in my puku as a baby, I was down about 30kgs.
Then Josh slowly dropped more and more feeds and self weaned shortly before turning two. And, for me at least, at that point, the last ten kilos of the weight I had gained when pregnant with him just kind of fell off! Right in time for me to get pregnant again hahaha
I only even thought about any of this as the other day I put a pair of pants on and they just straight up fell down again… Then someone said to me “wow, I was just thinking you were wasting away”… Now this was only someone I know from recently, who has only known me with a newborn and in an “up swing”… See as much as I don’t like it, I’ve come to realise my weight with pregnancy and childbirth, I guess even broader than that even potentially, is often a bloody yo-yo!
I have been both unhealthily skinny and obesely overweight at different stages of my life and have had huge issues around that on a number of levels. The thing I realised a few years ago is the more I focus on it, the more I struggle with it whatever that means depending on the stage etc.
And then I thought, “ah ha! Of course, Jai is almost one…” yes this time round I was much better at staying really super physically active (kinda hard not to with a two year old anyway) and ate better but I still put on almost 30kgs when pregnant with Jai, still a big improvement on the 40kgs I put on with Josh. And I have held onto it mostly, until recently…
Now I can’t tell you how much weight I have lost (as I purposely don’t own a scale, makes me too obsessive and honestly, it’s a shit measure of weight loss anyway cause it doesn’t account for muscle density or any of those other factors!) but I do know when I pulled out a pair of pre pregnancy jeans today before taking my big boy to his first real concert (Ice Age Live! We loved it!!) cause I couldn’t find my “in between” jeans and my post birth ones were falling off… They fit!
Not my skinny jeans yet… But anyhow, wanted to share hope with those of you who don’t immediately find the weight drop off breastfeeding, that it still might help, I’m sure extended breastfeeding has helped me lose weight… I have always struggled with weight loss, partly given PSOC, but after that initial part of feeding, I have definitely needed much less effort than normal to make the weight drop off…
Yay for boobs.. But also, I guess the key take home message is, don’t worry about it too much.. You are growing a human… Your body and their hormones, this is their thing, and they are awesome, look what cool shit they can do?! But it affects and impacts us all differently and our bodies have thier own unique ways of coping with that.. Mine happens to be “gain easily and hold for dear life onto those fat stores” until I can leave my baby without boobs for over six hours, like today…
And again, another yay for totally unexpectedly fitting prepregnancy jeans! 😝