One of my most frequently asked questions is how I lost the baby weight. It took me about a year to lose almost 50 lbs since the very end of my first pregnancy with my daughter, so it was definitely a long process, especially while breastfeeding and wanting to make sure my supply didn’t suffer. And of course with the emotional implications of trying to get used to motherhood and yet another new body shape. I wanted to do it the natural way but there was one particular moment where I very nearly caved and opted for the fast track option of an abdominoplasty; this was one area that at the time would not firm up no matter what I tried, but I kept at it and in the end managed to take back control.
I’ll try my best to share what worked for me after my first pregnancy, because I know a lot of mamas have a hard time getting back to their “old self.” We have so much more responsibility on our shoulders as new moms – caring for an entirely new human being’s every want and need at all hours! There’s less time for everything but you also have more to do, so it makes sense why it can all feel so overwhelming. Add wanting to lose weight to the mix, and it’s easy to feel anxious and even sad.
At the end of pregnancy in early December 2015, I was a whopping 194 lbs – heavier than my husband, who’s quite a bit taller too! You can imagine how that felt. I gained 35ish throughout my first pregnancy, but I also wasn’t at a happy place with my weight before I ever got pregnant. I lost the first 20 lbs pretty quickly in the first few weeks with the baby, placenta, and water weight gone, but after that it was a slow and tedious process, since I didn’t want to do anything drastic while my body provided all her nutrition.
I lost about 2-3 lbs a month after the initial big weight loss, which felt like eternity in the grand scheme of things. But that slow and gradual weight loss was what worked for me and what happened naturally. I can’t follow a crash diet plan or workout routine for the life of me! About a year after my first baby, I was around 144 lbs (5’9″) and feeling a lot more like my “old self.” My friend has recently managed to lose her pregnancy weight but has found that she is left with excess fat. So, she has decided to use a weight loss procedure called Coolsculpting to help with this problem. And now she feels so much more confident, so this is something I might consider if I find myself in a similar situation.
Have you seen my curated Shops? I regularly update the Women’s, Men’s, Baby, Maternity, & Home sections with items I either currently use or would love to try and think my Bond Girls would enjoy as well!
Here are the 3 main things that helped me lose the baby weight slowly but steadily over the first year of my daughter’s life:
Starting the weaning process and in turn breastfeeding less,
Changing the way I see food,
And staying busy and fulfilled with a hobby outside motherhood and housework.
Notice there’s no mention of the gym or crash diets. I tried working out over the past year, but it just wasn’t something I could maintain, since Vienna was attached to me at the hip at all times.
Breastfeeding Less & Weaning
Sounds controversial, right?
With exclusively breastfeeding, I had an out-of-control appetite, rivaling that of my husband. Obviously I had a lot of trouble losing weight in the beginning, because I was taking in way more calories than I was burning with the breastfeeding. Having a baby was a huge lifestyle change, and honestly, food was my comfort, so I let myself eat whenever and whatever I wanted to. Because of that, the fat didn’t just “melt away” with breastfeeding, and my OBGYN even told me I’d probably be hanging on to a few extra pounds due to breastfeeding.
A year later, I was still nursing, but it wasn’t my daughter’s main source of food anymore. We started adding in solids around 5 and a half months, so that took away from the need to exclusively breastfeed. When we did nurse, it was more of a comfort thing at night and sometimes during the day if we were home a lot (that continued on for two years – well into my first trimester with my son). My appetite leveled out over time, and I could eat my regular 3 meals with some healthy snacks throughout the day while feeling satisfied. My boobs also significantly decreased in size from when she was a newborn, since there wasn’t as much demand for milk production.
I love breastfeeding and am a big advocate for it, but it definitely made me a hangry mama! Some of us lose the weight quickly while breastfeeding and some of us hang onto it a while longer. I think it also has to do with how we respond to stressors – I tend to gain weight when I’m stressed.
Changing the Way I See Food
Tying in with breastfeeding less, I started to look at food as a nutrient source instead of a comfort source when I was feeling sad or overwhelmed. That had a lot to do with becoming more confident as a new mother too, which came with time and practice. Again, having a baby is a huge lifestyle change, and we all turn to different things for comfort. For me, it was food.
Feeding Vienna solid foods helped me redefine food in a way too. I would ask myself, “Would I feed my daughter this food?” I’m much more inclined to give her the more nutritious option than if I’m cooking just for myself, so this mentality was helpful in encouraging healthier cooking habits for my whole family. I focused on eating more “whole” foods and making most of my food myself.
Staying Busy & Feeling Fulfilled
Lastly, after figuring out some kind of natural rhythm between mothering duties and focusing on my career, my blog in a sense helped me lose weight. It’s my creative outlet, my “other baby,” and I love the freedom it gives me to have one foot at home and one foot at work. It’s a documentation of my life, and it helps me stay aware of all the blessings over the years – pretty amazing! It gives me the fulfillment I crave on a daily basis as a go-getter.
Staying/working at home requires a lot of willpower to be able to organize yourself. And sometimes the hours run into days and days into weeks and weeks into months, feeling like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. Feed, bathe, diaper, play, sleep – over and over. Groundhog Day, right? My hobby blog allowed me to have goals for myself that in turn made me a happier and more fulfilled mama.
I highly encourage SAHM’s to have a little place for themselves to be able to do things they love and have conversations with other adults outside of daily mommy and housework responsibilities – whether it be work, a hobby, involvement in organizations, whatever. We were all somebody before having kids, right? That’s what keeps me sane and (kinda) balanced, haha. And a happier mama is less likely to turn to negative things for comfort.
Going outside the home every day has always been important to me, even if just for a short stroller walk or to get the mail. Being cooped up inside the whole day drives me nuts! Seeing the world function as it always does makes me realize my problems are small and not as important as I might think they are. Life goes on, and we are very resilient as women. I would do anything to make sure I had a positive mentality, no matter how “hard” I thought life was at the time.
So, I’m not sure if that’s what you expected for a post on losing baby weight, but that’s just me being real. My weight loss was a lot bigger than a diet or workout routine. I can’t stick to strict diets or workouts for the life of me. It was a mental and emotional journey of getting used to becoming a mother, which took time. Much love to you all! xo
Update: Here I am 4 months postpartum with my second baby, and the above still stands true for me. Breastfeeding makes me really hungry, but I don’t want to risk losing my milk, which is my son’s primary source of food right now. As he starts to eat solids in the next few months, we’ll naturally transition into less breastfeeding, and I’m confident I’ll have a smaller appetite and start to lose the rest of my baby weight little by little. Some women melt away quickly while breastfeeding and some hold onto their weight a little longer, like me. Having grace for myself while understanding how miraculous my body is makes this journey a lot easier on me mentally and emotionally. It’s a long process of healing and adjusting and finding a new rhythm, now with two kids.