My Body: Currently Out to Rent

As someone with little experience with babies (outside the uterus) before having one, I had a lot of misconceptions.  Like I knew I’d get woken up a lot at night with a newborn, but I had this image that I would feed him, put him back in his bassinet, and he’d sleep there while I was in the bed nearby.

The reality was that he’d wake up to get fed, but then he’d require a lot of holding and soothing to go back to sleep.  And he never slept flat until he was 5 months old.  By the time I was able to go back to sleep, it would be approaching an hour, by which time I’d be hungry and need a snack.  The reality of it all was very different than I’d envisioned.

I also naively thought that I wouldn’t be one of those women to gain a ton of weight after having a baby.  Especially since I’d done well gaining the recommended amount of weight during my pregnancy, I thought I’d be fine, and go back to my Paleo ways.  A good number of my patients are close to their pre-pregnancy weight when they come in for their postpartum appointment about 6 weeks post-baby.  So I was hoping to do the same.

The pregnancy weight initially came off quickly, then I plateaued at about 10 lbs heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight.  I came across this article, which granted isn’t the most scientific source ever.  It says that although breastfeeding does burn 300 to 500 calories a day, it can require you to keep ON an extra 10 lbs or so:

When I read that, I felt vindicated.  YES!  I knew there was a reason I wasn’t losing those last 10 lbs.  I thought, ok I can deal with 10 lbs until I stop breastfeeding, and then I might have to work a little to get it off.

But then what I discovered was that the combination of chronic sleep-deprivation, being extra hungry all the time, and not having any free time is a deadly one.  It’s a well-known fact that lack of sleep is associated with weight gain, and there’s nothing like having a new baby to mess with your sleep.  Thanks to breastfeeding, I am always hungry- I’ll eat a meal that is a normal size, and then still feel hungry and end up snacking on more.  And with the lack of time (and energy), I don’t want to put any effort into food prep.  Plus when WZW is awake and needing attention, I can’t spend forever eating.  My husband makes fun of me for how long I spend chewing a salad- I definitely don’t have time to be eating one if I’m alone with the little guy.

Thanks to all of the above, my weight has slowly creeped back up, which is depressing as my clothes have been getting tighter.  I am now the heaviest I’ve ever been non-pregnant.  The small scrub pants that I was able to fit into until 30-something weeks are now tight after eating a large meal.  And frankly, after a large meal, I look like I’m still pregnant.  I can’t help but feel gross not just because of vanity, but also because I know my habits are less than healthy.

I struggle between reminding myself that this is common, and that working my full-time plus job and taking care of my little guy are already enough to test my limits.  It’s tough expecting to be able to do much more.  So when food is available, I’m happy to eat it, carbs and all.

And exercise?  Forget about it.  I haven’t done anything regularly since I was pregnant.  Thanks to my long work days, I need to come home as soon as I’m done with work, and there is definitely no time to exercise after.  If I don’t have a meeting at lunch, I’m trying to catch up on work so I’m not there as late.  So going for a walk at lunch is possible on some days, but probably means a longer work day.

What I also worry about is that at some point, we would like to have another child.  At 35, I don’t exactly have forever.  So I’m potentially looking at breastfeeding for a year, then getting pregnant again at some point in the not-too-distant future after that.  And then going through this whole process again.  I would definitely like to get healthy again before conceiving baby #2, but I also don’t want to wait so long that my fertility declines and I have trouble getting pregnant.

I didn’t realize until having WZW that it’s not just with the pregnancy that my body is taken over by the baby.  Breastfeeding is causing significant changes in my body as well.  If I end up having two children fairly close in age, that’s quite a bit of time that my body will be “out to rent” for the sake of the babies.  What I initially thought of as a brief temporary state is potentially going to turn into like 4 years of being pregnant or breastfeeding.

I know I should stop worrying so much and getting too ahead of myself.  I’m lucky to have a healthy baby, supportive husband, and a stable job.  But it’s funny how women and men react so differently to weight gain.  My husband gained about 20 lbs from all of the lifestyle changes post-baby, and his response was- I haven’t even been pregnant and I feel great!  In reality, he does intend to work on eventually getting back into running & cycling and eating better.  He looks forward to the process of getting back in shape.  Whereas for me, it sounds like a lot of work.

So, we’ll see.  It’s definitely too much for me right now to go back to eating strictly Paleo.  But I do want to see if I can work on not being quite so free with the carbs and sugar.


2 thoughts on “My Body: Currently Out to Rent

  1. Meg March 27, 2016 / 12:28 am

    Oh man, POB, this blog post is basically a transcript of conversations I’ve had with hubby over the past month or so. I have even said ‘it’s like my body is not mine yet’. I also did not gain much weight during pregnancy and after J was born I lost almost all I’d gained by about 3-4 weeks after. And then it started coming back on with the killer combo – breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. I was a comfortable 58kgs/ 128 pounds pre-pregnancy without being too strict. I’m only 5’2″ tall. When J was 5 months old I wanted to weigh him by standing on some scales with and without him at a nurse’s office. I nearly cried when I stood on and it said 71kgs/ 156 pounds!!!

    Since then I’ve been a little more careful with diet and now I’m at 67kgs/ 148 pounds. So 20 more pounds to go :-(. It’s been a lot harder to get these few kgs off and the remaining 9 kgs are going to be a b***h to get rid of. I’ve got a belly now which makes me look a round shape, especially with my short stature.

    And then there’s having another baby. Just a few minutes before turning on my comp hubby and I were talking about it again. Thinking of trying again after J is a little over a year old so there’s an approx 2 year age diff. Previously I had said that after I stop breastfeeding when J is a year old I’d like another year off before being pregnant or breastfeeding, but now I think maybe that’s just dragging it on. Better to get it over and done with in a smaller time window? Also, I’m 32 and not getting any younger either. I’m Not sure, I’m still torn about it.

    I’m really struggling with how my body has changed and more importantly that it’s not really under my control.


    • Paleo OB March 27, 2016 / 6:00 pm

      Sigh, the things we go through for our kids. It’s comforting to know that we are not alone. There’s a reason why it’s such a common thing for women to gain weight after having kids. My husband reminded me- you are doing the best you can. Right now, between work and taking care of my son, there isn’t room for much else.

      Although this has become the “new normal,” it’s also temporary. Perhaps a long temporary state, but things will always change. And life is about learning to deal with new challenges, right?

      With regards to spacing children, it’s hard regardless. Parents of twins have a crazy time initially, but then their kids go through all the stages at the same time. So once you’re done potty training, that’s it (assuming you don’t have more kids). If they’re more spaced out, it might be easier with each baby, but you also have to go through everything all over again. There’s no right answer, and ultimately you deal with what life hands you.

      It’s nice to know we’re in this together!


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