I Thought Breastfeeding Would Make Me Skinny, but It Didn't and That's Ok
"When the weight wasn’t 'falling off' like I was told it would, I felt like a loser. Instead of cherishing my body, and blessing it as it fed my child and sustained her, I was cursing it wanting to fit into my skinny jeans."
Breastfeeding did NOT make me skinny. That's a myth I was told before I gave birth. In fact, I think it made me fat. I ate as if I was on a desert island alone and would never eat again… at every meal. Because I was THAT hungry. My hunger could not be satiated. Every time Adelaide would nurse or I would pump I would immediately feel light headed and NEED A SNACK. (Or a whole meal.)
Here was an average day during the peak of breastfeeding: My (first) breakfast (before working out or shooting) was oatmeal with blueberries and milk. Then post-workout I had lentils with 2 eggs, parm, and a whole avocado. And an egg and cheese. Or maybe 2. Then for lunch, a veggie burger or more lentils with eggs or fuck it! pasta! And then a sensible dinner like…a whole pizza. And don’t forget dessert! Some ice cream, obvi, or maybe I was healthy and had cereal with blueberries or a banana with PB. But of course let’s not forget the cookies. Because I deserved a treat!
I wondered why I wasn’t losing weight with breastfeeding. OH!!! Because I was eating enough to feed an army?! Gotcha!
At about 7 months postpartum, I went to a doctor and also got serious with my trainer Maria Kelling at Tracy Anderson Method studio. They severely changed my eating (no grains, no eggs, no dairy, no beans) and my workouts (1.5 hours a day 6 days a week). It was hardcore and torture, but I committed and lost about 35 lbs in 3 months. I was back to my pre-baby weight, and then some, by 11 months postpartum. I figured out what worked for me, with my hormones and my body and THEN and only THEN did the weight “fall off." NOT FROM BREASTFEEDING.
I was told breastfeeding would make me skinny. It did not, and that's OK. What's not OK is that this is just one example of the lies we are told as new moms, which then set us up for failure. When the weight wasn’t “falling off," like I was told it would, I felt like a loser. What was wrong with me? Why are all other new moms skinny? Instead of cherishing my body, and blessing it as it fed my child and sustained her, I was cursing it wanting to fit into my skinny jeans.
What they (…and who is “they” by the way? Usually corporate men behind a desk who think they “get it” because their wife/girlfriend/cousin/neighbor had a baby, but in reality, they have no clue or empathy about childbirth or postpartum anything) should say is: EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT! EVERY POST-PARTUM EXPERIENCE IS DIFFERENT! DO YOU! and GOOD JOB NEW MAMA!!
- RELATED: The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Here is a brief list of just some of the lies “they” tell you as a new mom:
- Breastfeeding makes your stomach go down! NO IT DOESN’T! Not for everyone! Especially if you had a C-section, or are a normal human person, then the swelling is horrible for at least 3 months and you will have a little pooch for….maybe ever?
- You won’t get your period for a year after childbirth! YES YOU WILL!! I sure did! about 3 months after giving birth, I not only got my period, but it was a war zone down there and I soaked thru super, super tampons in about 5 minutes.
- Breastfeeding helps you feel better! NOT ALWAYS! There were days when I was weeping while feeding Adelaide, crying on her head. Those days evened out for me, but as long as you’re breastfeeding/pumping, your body is all over the place and so are your hormones.
- Your boobs will get used to it! I mean…kinda? But it's never fully comfortable. You vacillate from engorgement and swollen tits to relief from nursing. But then there's the pain of them biting and sucking too hard, so it’s just kinda always horrible.
- You only have problems after childbirth if you have a hard labor! NOPE! I had several friends who had relatively easy childbirths who either suffered from severe hemorrhoids, prolapsed bladders, prolapsed anus, vaginal eczema, and all sorts of weird things no one talks about. So don’t be fooled!
- Your hormones even out! LIES! I’m still having night sweats and will cry at a kitten commercial, so I’m not sure what they are talking about. Maybe this is just being a mom.
- You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding or until you have a period! I know roughly 4 women with babies that will tell you otherwise. It happens, we are very, very fertile after having a baby, so have fun! While you can.
The list goes on. It just sucks because as new moms we are already hormonal and a mess. It's a tough experience trying to figure out this new person that is our child while also trying to remember who we are and where the “old you” fits in.
Everyone has advice. Everything you read says something different. Everyone thinks they have the best way and the answer. Take it all with a grain of salt. You’re doing great, it’s all gonna be alright. GOOD JOB NEW MAMA!!! xoxo
Angelique Cabral currently stars as ‘Colleen’ on CBS’ hit comedy “Life in Pieces."