Science Be Damned, It’s Not Always Easy To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

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baby weight lossIt’s the perfect factoid. It combines breastfeeding advocacy and baby weight loss, two of the media’s favorite subjects when it comes to new moms. “Breastfeeding burns calories!” New moms hear from every lactation consultant that steps foot in their hospital room. They hear it from celebrity interviews who swear they dropped the baby weight just be nursing. We get it from joyful scientists who tell us this amazing news as if they’re presenting us with a huge gift. “You can be a good, natural mother and still get back into those pre-preggo skinny jeans! Can we get a Hallelujah?”

I realize why everyone loves to talk about losing weight and breastfeeding. It makes perfect sense. I just wish that it were always true.

Guess what guys? Sometimes even those who are breastfeeding still have a hard time losing that pregnancy weight. It doesn’t mean that we engorged ourselves while we were pregnant, and irresponsibly ate everything in sight. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t trying hard enough. It just means that every pregnant body is different, and apparently some of our metabolisms don’t really understand the miracles of breastfeeding and weight loss.

I can admit that I indulged on the Christmas candy while I was pregnant with my daughter, but I still didn’t gain too much extra weight. I contribute it to teaching Pilates classes up until my sixth  month. Then, like a dutiful little momma falling in line, I began to breastfeed my daughter before we even hit the recovery room. It should have been easy-peasy for me to pack away the maternity clothes immediately, right?

Not so much. Yes, breastfeeding burns calories. You know what else it can do? Make you hungrier than you ever were while pregnant! When I was pregnant, my stomach didn’t have enough room to gorge on huge meals. Now, there was nothing pressing my stomach into my rib cage, and I was still technically eating for two. The heartburn of my pregnancy was gone and friends, I wanted to eat everything all the time.

There were other factors that didn’t exactly lead to optimum weight loss. For one thing, caring for a new baby didn’t exactly give me a lot of time to exercise. I realize that my body was working overtime to create all that milk, but my limbs were pretty much restricted to rocking chair calf rises and baby bench pressing. I might have been burning calories but I wasn’t helping my muscles very much.

More than that, another key aspect of weight loss is getting enough sleep. That’s right, sleep. I don’t think anyone will suggest that new mothers have a lot of REM time.

I’m not saying that no one loses weight because of breastfeeding. I’m just saying that it’s not always a given. It’s not as if every woman who nurses should automatically be able to walk down a runway nine days after giving birth. Breastfeeding is awesome, but it not the baby weight panacea. Let’s acknowledge that moms are different, moms lose weight in their own time, and the most important part of your experience as a new mom is not how quickly your body can pretend that nothing happened to it at all.

(Photo: SAJE/Shutterstock)