When I was pregnant, everyone told me not to worry about my weight gain because the second I start breastfeeding, all the weight will just fall off. First off, I wasn’t necessarily worried about my weight gain. I mean I was pregnant growing a baby in my tummy. When I look at my pregnancy photos, I think I looked pretty good. I am tall and athletically built to begin with, so I felt like I carried the extra weight and baby well. The deceptive part was even though I looked decent, I was miserably sick my first trimester and struggled with horrible sciatic nerve pain my third trimester. Regardless, I know it could have been a whole lot worse, and I consider myself blessed to have had a healthy pregnancy.
The part that shocked me most after Cooper’s birth was the breastfeeding rumor. The dramatic weight loss while breast feeding is NOT a guarantee. It actually turns out new mommies can fall into one of two categories; ones who either lose weight while breastfeeding and ones who CAN NOT lose weight while breastfeeding. I fall in the second category. I have struggled with coming to terms with my new postpartum body more than I ever struggled with body image while pregnant.
Everything about a postpartum body should be celebrated. I have seen women embrace their stretch marks, the extra skin on their bellies, their saggy boobs. I love that these women understand their bodies will most likely never look or feel the same, but they celebrate the fact they have created a human life with their beautifully strong bodies. I have attempted to take that same approach while embracing my new body, one that has maintained a little belly pouch. This pouch is something that will not disappear until I stop breastfeeding. My sisters and my mom both warned me that our genetics make it impossible to return to pre-pregnancy weight until the breastfeeding hormones leave our bodies. It is not just the extra 10 lbs that has surprised me, but how my ligaments still hurt when I exercise and how weak my core still feels. I think it is important for mothers-to-be to prepare themselves that they might not lose weight while breastfeeding or return to their pre-pregnant bodies as quickly as Hollywood photoshopped moms do.
Although at times it is frustrating to carry around an extra 10 lbs, here is a sweet insight given to me by my younger sister who has three children of her own.
She said, “I used to get discouraged I wasn’t able to lose the weight like others while breastfeeding. But then I found a picture of mom months after having Maddie (our youngest sister). I had always noticed she was a little heavier but most recently when I look at those pictures, she looks even more beautiful. The extra weight represents the sacrifice her body went through to bring us into this world.”
I hope when I look back at my pictures after Cooper, I will always be reminded of the beautiful sacrifice my body went through to bring our daughter into this world. I am trying to be kind to my body while finding balance in exercise and healthy eating.
This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to eat dark chocolate, perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day week. I typically do not shy away from treats to begin with, so it was nice this week to have an excuse to buy extra dark chocolate from Trader Joe's. On Valentine’s Day, my husband surprised us by coming home at noon from work. Lucky for Coops, she was able to spend the day with “dada” while “mama” had to still work. The sweetest moment was when Cory brought us both flowers. It was particularly special because my thoughtful dad always gave his three daughters valentines in addition to my mom.
We gave our two cute babysitters dark chocolate toffee valentines. Cory doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth, but, boy, does he love Trader Joe's dark chocolate-covered pretzels. When reflecting on why we (Be Better Team) chose to suggest DARK CHOCOLATE for a #bebetter52 challenge, I realize it was for similar reasons I need to embrace the new 10 lbs on my postpartum body. This life is all about finding a healthy balance and being present in the moment. The balance this week is dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Why? Because it’s Valentine's Day, the day to celebrate all things loved.