There. I said it. You have better things to do, you know, like caring for a baby.
I can’t tell you the amount of friends and clients that have asked me to help them lose the baby weight a few weeks after giving birth, as if it’s the normal thing to do. Fact: Just because something is common doesn’t mean it’s normal.
Now I’m not a mom, but I don’t need to be one to see how much comparison happens between them. At what time does your baby sleep? How much does your baby eat? What size clothing are they wearing now?
And then, there’s “OMG, you lost so much weight, you look amazing. How did you do it?” or “YES, I finally fit in my jeans again”. Or worse yet, seeing these judging moms at your baby’s swimming lesson (those who judge usually do so because they’re unhappy with themselves, not you, so just ignore them).
Now you may ask, how do they do it? Why do some new moms lose more weight than others, especially when you’re trying so hard to get back to your pre-baby weight.
But before that, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- You don’t have to lose weight. YOU JUST CREATED A HUMAN BEING.
- You have better things to do.
- Your baby doesn’t care if you lose the weight
- Your spouse doesn’t care if you lose the weight
- Your friends and family shouldn’t care if you lose the weight. Again, if they do, they’re the ones with the issue, not you.
- Eating gives you energy to take care of your baby.
- You’re amazing as is.
- Did I mention you are good enough because YOU JUST CREATED A HUMAN BEING?
Ok, back to why some lose more weight that others. This isn’t specific to the post-partum phase, but let’s just say some of these go out of whack then.
- Hormones. Why hello there irritability. Your hormones have been on a roller-coaster for a few months now and the ride is unfortunately not over yet. Right after birth, estrogen and progesterone drop drastically, leading to anxiety, sadness, and mood swings. This lasts a week or so. At the same time, oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone goes up. Although this is great most times, it also has the disadvantage of increasing stress as you now see everything that has the possibility of harming your baby. In rare cases (5-10% of mothers), the thyroid gland can also lose its function. One of the symptoms…initial weight loss followed by weight gain at 4-8 months. Other than the female hormones, hunger and fullness hormones may be out of whack as well due to fatigue and stress (more on this later).
- Genetics. Whether post-partum or not, our weight is mostly dictated by your genes. So thank your ancestors for this!
- Stress/Anxiety. This could go either way. Either you’re so stressed and overwhelmed that your stomach is upside down to the point where food can’t go down, or you eat more for comfort. There’s a reason why the call it comfort food. It makes you feel better, whether you’re trying to soothe your fatigue or your stress. It definitely helps in the moment! Stress can also help us retain more energy. Stress increases cortisol and insulin, which helps you retain body fat. Your body doesn’t know what kind of stress your under. It just knows it should keep as much energy as possible in case you need to run away from a bear. Finally, stress can increase ghrelin, the hormone that controls appetite. More stress = more ghrelin = more food.
- Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy and you burn quite a bit doing so (please don’t do this just to burn more energy).
- Help from others. Some have the luxury oh having friends and family help them by bringing homemade meals. Others don’t and turn to take-our or ready-made-meals more often. Don’t kick yourself if your food choices aren’t ideal at this time, because they wont. Sometimes Kraft Dinner is the way to go. Spend more time trying to recuperate rather than preparing elaborate meals. Yes, you can argue that you can prepare a balanced meal in 5 minutes, and yes you can. But not everyone has the knowledge to do so.
- Socioeconomic factors. Some parents don’t have a choice but to get back to work earlier than others. So consider yourself lucky if you have the privilege to stay at home. If going back to work, chances are you’ll have less time to prepare a balanced meal. And again, there’s nothing wrong with that. And not to mention the added stress that makes losing weight more difficult. Do what’s right for you and your family.
What new moms need here aren’t tips to help them lose the weight, what they need is more compassion towards themselves. If your baby is growing, you’re doing a good job. The rest can wait.