Last week I received a question from a reader, Stephanie, which made me realize that I've never talked about my struggle with the gain and attempt to lose all the baby weight I put on with Avi though it was a serious point of contention for me and I'm sure it is for so many women. I wanted to take some time to "talk" about my adventures in baby weight and maybe start a conversation with some of you who've had similar or different experiences.
Before I had Avital I was fluctuating between 118 and 120 lbs. I was definitely at the top of my comfort zone at 120 lbs, but was far from feeling like I needed to diet or lose weight. At the time I was a pescatarian and just starting down the road of learning about health, nutrition, and the effects food can have on our bodies. I was 26 years old and heading down this road of motherhood alone. Almost all of my friends were single and unsettled and I didn't have many people to talk to about all of the crazy things happening to my body and no one to compare notes with.
I honestly wasn't all that uncomfortable with gaining the weight and was lucky to remain pretty tight and stretch mark free through the pregnancy. I gained a total of 40 lbs which was more than I planned to (after reading that 25-35 lbs was a good amount to gain for my weight), but I didn't get too crazy about it. I felt like I had given up everything else in my life that felt good: fish (for the most part), cheese, alcohol, caffeine...food was all I had!
My mom had told me over and over that she had lost the 60 lbs that she gained with both me and my sister within 3 months of giving birth, so I figured it wouldn't be an issue for me as I'd always been thin and not had a problem with maintaining it. I couldn't imagine it being an issue losing the weight.
But boy was I wrong! To be honest, I'm not sure my mom is remembering things correctly, but I haven't met anyone else who's claimed to have lost the weight that fast. Also, my sister and I were bottle fed and I decided to nurse, so our experiences were wildly different.
So let me start here: I was shocked at all the belly I had immediately post delivery! No one told me I'd be swollen and bloated for weeks! (Binding helps significantly with this. I'll post on that later.).
After the swelling goes down, there is still a good amount of belly to work off and little to no time to hit the gym between feeding and bathing and diaper changing. I decided to take my midwife's advice and concentrate on mommying and let the weight come off naturally.
After a couple months this got old. I was frustrated and not fitting into clothing and feeling really bad about myself. I had created this idea that it was reasonable to assume the weight would be gone in the first 3-4 months. As that point got closer and I realized how far that was from true, I began to feel a little lost in the process. It felt silly to care and at the same time it made me feel farther and father from myself.
On top of all of this, Avi was a small baby (not dangerously or abnormally, but small and tall nonetheless). She was and has always been in the 10th percentile for weight. Granted I believe the scale is skewed to the American obesity epidemic, but that's a whole 'nother conversation. At the time I had an uneducated pediatrician who was biased against my vegetarian diet making threats about her weight and child services. Turns out she's just a skinny kid. And I needed a new pediatrician (who I've since found and LOVE). That though contributed to my confusion, anxiety, and weight gain (I did my best to up my fat intake to fatten up my milk for Avi...).
In the end, I wound up losing the last of the weight when Avi was around 7 or 8 months when I decided to go vegan. It was a great way to cleanse, lose the weight, and feel more like me again. For the first time in a long time I had a bit of extra energy (as much as can be expected with an infant) and no bloating. It came along with a cleansed palate and new taste for clean and healthy foods.
I came down to 116 lbs and felt great, ate to my hunger, and stopped worrying about how much I weighed or Avi weighed.
Since then I gained and lost a handful of lbs with the miscarriages this year and did my best to keep a little on at my midwife's advice to maintain a healthy pregnancy. I started this pregnancy at 118 lbs and have gained 12 lbs in the 16 weeks I've been pregnant. I'm eating to my hunger (which is ravenous on many days) and trying not to fret about the scale (though I'm addicted to checking...at least 3 times per week). Nonetheless, I'm comfortable with the weight I'm gaining (though my belly is HUGE this round) and I'm much more confident that I'll lose the weight healthfully this time knowing what I know about babies and nutrition!