Disclosure :: World Breastfeeding Week is recognized August 1 – 7, 2016. This year, the World Breastfeeding Week theme is about how breastfeeding is a key element in getting us to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share. Our World Breastfeeding Week is sponsored by Woman’s Hospital.
You hear it all the time, “The weight will melt off while you’re breastfeeding!” Well, after nursing my first son for 22 months and now that I’m going on 17 months with my second, I’d like to call total and absolute BS on that one. Suuuure, it may work for SOME, but for the majority of us it just doesn’t always happen so easily. And actually, it may have the reverse effect. If you’re like me, your body tends to make you feel like you will starve if you don’t eat every 2-3 hours and then holds on to any extra weight that it can. But then, the second you lose 1-2 lbs, your supply tanks. This was NOT what I thought I was signing up for.
In total honesty, it used to get me really down. I’d say to myself when I’d see moms who chose to wean early or formula feed, “She had her kid months after me, and she looks better than she did before!” I constantly look at my soft spots, deflated breasts, and bags under my eyes and begin to resent the time and energy I put into nursing my child. How do I get there?? By comparison and engaging in the “how fast can you bounce back” game. Not healthy.
If you are reading this and feel discouraged that you can’t lose the weight or that the scale will not budge (even after a year post-partum), please take heart. You are just where you need to be. I’ll be the first to say how tempting it is to wean for the sake of your waistline, but then you have those nights where your little one can be soothed in less than a second when you whip out the good stuff and all their pain and distress melt away. Teething doesn’t end after they turn one. Sickness or ear infections don’t magically disappear after the 12th month. So I’m OK with living in this version of myself for a little longer. Do I feel like myself 100% of the time? No. Do I enjoy lugging around an extra 20 lbs? No way. Would I do it again for both of my boys? Yes—always yes.
Breastfeeding my children will always be one of my fondest memories that I look back on during my journey as a mom. It’s so hard those first few months and you want to throw in the towel constantly. But then all of a sudden it’s not. For my first, it was around month 4. And for the second, it was the second week. It does get easier. You get stronger, your baby gets better at it, and it becomes a complete and total joy. Sure it’s not always puppies and rainbows (I’m looking at you 3 a.m. feedings and biting phases), but it is the most special time you can ask for as a mom, and I would sacrifice my figure for it time and time again.
So if you are up every two hours, always hungry, uncomfortable in your body, or wearing maternity pants longer than you care to admit, let it go. Don’t compare your body with someone else’s. Don’t hate the blessed few who bounce back like giving birth is their job. Don’t resent those who can just look at a nursing bra and lose 20 lbs. Focus on yourself and your baby and what a privilege it is to give your little one the special attention, nutrition, comfort, bond, etc. It is such a small window that we are mothers to babies and infants—don’t waste your time wishing to be a smaller size. Obviously make good, healthy choices while eating and find an exercise plan that works for you, but after that, let yourself off the hook!
Only you have the power to shut down those lies in your head about how you “should” look. So instead of engaging in the comparison game, look outward and enjoy the season you’re in, and know that this time with your baby is more special than any number on the scale.