Yesterday was the day I delivered my first child 35-year-ago.
Before I became pregnant with her, I was unnaturally thin for me. When I describe myself as “unnaturally thin” I am referring to the extreme means I engaged to get to the weight that was acceptable to me. I had been restricting my calories on most days to fewer than 800 so that I could reach and maintain a weight that was unnaturally thin for my 5’7″ build.
Yes, I was not eating enough, and like a lot of young women, I determined my weight by how a number sounds to my own ears, and how my body compared to the models in the fashion magazines I read all the time. I used those things as my way to decide if I were thin enough to be acceptable to me; I was not. I wanted to weigh 115 and to see jutting hipbones!
Instead, I got pregnant with my first child. Of course, pregnancy and bringing a new child into the world is a miracle and a gift. For me, there was another gift! I received the gift of weight gain without guilt. Any weight I gain during the next nine months is “baby fat,” which I somehow thought was different than real fat. I had a lot of fun eating whatever and as much as I wanted. I had the perfect excuse for weight gain. Hey, I’m pregnant, I’m supposed to gain weight!
In the first trimester I gained 55 pounds! Was my OB concerned? She was a little surprised, but not at all concerned. Her specialty was oncology. Weight gain, as far as she was concerned, “ain’t nothing wrong with healthy weight gain!” Blood pressure was good, no protein spilling in my urine, no swelling of the extremities, blood sugar levels were normal, nothing to worry about here!
When I delivered my daughter early on the morning of May 31, 1981 I expected her to weight at least 10 pounds, based on my birth weight of 9 lbs, 7 oz, and based on my incredible 81 pound weight gain. She weighed just 7 lbs, 13 oz and two days after her birth I had only lost fewer than 20 pounds!
I was a new mother, a nursing mother, and as far as I was concerned, “a big, fat mother!” Getting started with my new career as a mom was fraught with challenges. The nursing part wasn’t too tough. I was blessed with a baby who “got it” at the very first try. I was cursed with a baby who never wanted to let go. She was a full-time nurser who found no comfort with a pacifier. If I wasn’t nursing her, she was wailing at the top of her lungs!
She wanted to nurse and she was the most colicky baby ever. She was gassy and unhappy 24 hours a day, although it seemed to get worse every evening from 6-11pm. I was exhausted, but through all my weariness and concern over my newborn who seemed to have some real medical issues (I thought it had to be more than colic, but the pediatrician assured me she was healthy and thriving and it was no big deal and we’d get through it in a few months) I added removing all of the baby weight to my troubles.
I read that nursing was going to get me back to my pre pregnant weight in a matter of weeks. it didn’t. I restricted my calories going in and spent a lot of time gently jumping on a trampoline holding my infant daughter, which burned a lot of calories. The jumping, however, wasn’t done for exercise, it was done for its calming effect of the ever-colicky-screaming baby.
I never made weight loss progress until the baby was almost 12-months-old and was getting most of her nutrition from solid foods rather than breast milk. I never did get back to as thin as I was before I became pregnant, but that was more than okay. After the experience of weighing almost 200 pounds, the weight loss I did manage felt great!
My advice to new moms is, “let the baby weight wait!”
I think that it’s more important now than it was 35 years ago. When I was an overweight new mom, I didn’t have tabloids and Facebook showing me how the celebrity moms and the supermodel moms “got back their bodies” in two weeks after delivery!
I digress: What a load of garbage! “Celebrity and supermodel moms – you can all go parade around in your bikinis all you want! I don’t care how much you weigh or how fast you got back your rock-hard abs! Come on, what else do you have to do all day? Your body is your job! You have a staff to do everything else we regular moms have to handle.”
How to get off the pregnancy weight gain
- Enjoy your baby! (If you get a colicky one, enjoy your child when she’s sleeping and remember the colic stage will pass.)
- Enjoy nutritious food. Focus on whole foods that are nutrient dense.
- Don’t over exert yourself. You will get adequate physical activity just doing “mom stuff.” If you enjoy the gym, go back and start slowly. If you’ve never been a fan of the gym, no need to start now.
- Sleep whenever you get the chance.
- Forget about being the perfect supermom! Give yourself and your body time to adjust to all the changes. Your baby doesn’t care what you weigh!