While breastfeeding, I tend to stay (how should I put this?)
- heavier than I’d prefer
Yeah, those adjectives work. You might have other words you’d use. Keep those to yourself, please. 🙂
Basically, I’m not the gal the breastfeeding books all talked about.
I’m the one who holds on to every extra calorie with a tight-fisted iron grip and can’t seem to drop more than about 10 pounds after I have a baby until that baby is weaned.
(In fact, sometimes — after that initial 10-pound drop the first day of the baby’s life — I GAIN weight.)
It happens every time, and now that I’m postpartum with baby #7, I’m (mostly) OK with it. I’m writing this out not to justify myself (because I really am, like I said– mostly– OK with it), but rather, because I think there’s a lot of pressure on moms now to be a thin, fit, “trim,” sculpted, tight, ab-possessing, thigh-gap-holding mama.
Too much pressure.
And I don’t want my silence to contribute to that unhealthy, often-unrealistic message.
Here’s the thing: If you are able to maintain your milk supply and be a breastfeeding extraordinaire AND lose weight, more power to you. For my part, I can’t manage to do both, and breastfeeding is not something I’m willing to give up to be thin.
Hear me: I am not trying to “skinny-shame” the ladies who can do both– but I do want to give encouragement and offer camaraderie to women who are like me. Instead of grumping and complaining about the fact that I can’t seem to lose weight while nursing, I’d like to share some of the positives about this not-often-talked-about situation which is, for me, a fact of life as a postpartum mom.
Without further ado, let me share.
Here are 13 Reasons I Don’t Mind Being (what I jokingly call) a “Chunky Happy Mama”:
- While breastfeeding, I make plenty of milk because I have learned not to mess too much with my calories. Breastfeeding can be challenging in a lot of ways, and I’ve faced many of those: tongue tie, lip tie, lazy suck, mastitis, a week-long NICU stay, and more. I don’t make it more difficult on myself by flirting dangerously close with the calories needed to keep a plentiful milk supply for my little one.
- My husband gets variety. Pregnant body. Soft body with a bigger chest. Smaller body without those things in between pregnancies, or toward the end of baby’s first year. He likes the ways my body fluctuates with the realities of childbearing. And then after the baby is weaned, he gets a wife with a smaller body again. (We’re not talking unhealthy obesity, just a soft mom body). This currently-chunky body is one version of a God-given variety my husband gets to experience while being faithful to the same woman for his whole life. For now, I have curves and he gets to hug them. 🙂
- I’m a woman and I look like one. I’m not a little girl or a preteen. I look like a breastfeeding mom. I look like women have looked (according to art and statues) throughout the ages. Strong arms. soft breasts, and a little plump in the middle.
- It’s an opportunity to learn contentment. Being chunky, for a time, gives me an opportunity to LEARN contentment while living in a state-of-being which is less than what I think is ideal, and less than what society around me says is beautiful. Like Paul learned contentment in a variety of states, I have learned to be OK with looking like a breastfeeding mother when I am, in fact, a breastfeeding mother.
- I have a soft tummy for my kids to lean against. It’s comfy for them to snuggle with mom.
- I get to give other people the blessing of realistic body expectations. By not frantically focusing on losing weight, I’m not pushing others toward an unhealthy focus on losing weight. By that I mean, maybe other women feel not so very alone by me just being the way I am. Though sometimes (often?) it doesn’t feel delightful to me, during this postpartum season, I am contributing to a healthier society for all of us by making it “ok” for ladies around me to be normal, non-anorexic, non-workout-crazy sizes. Perhaps, by me being a normal size (higher weight after pregnancy, and while nursing), it will put less pressure on other women, and help other husbands see that there are a variety of normal, post-baby body types.
- A lack of focus on weight is good for my daughter. I’m thankful that I had a mom who did her best to be healthy but didn’t focus inordinately on the number on the scale. I think she gave me (among other things) a balanced body image. I hope I can do the same thing for my daughter, especially in this age of anorexia, bulimia, and the new one that’s on the rise– even among young moms: orthoxia (a quest for perfect/utterly “healthy” eating). It’s good for her to see that it’s ok to look like I’ve just had a baby, after I’ve just had a baby.
- By being OK with my size/weight, even when it’s not “ideal,” I’m not an easy prey for fad diets. I’m not ruining my body by buying into whatever the latest “low fat”, “beer and salad only,” “no carb,” fad is. You keep that kale-flax-and-miracle-powder smoothie far from me, ya’ hear?
- Our budget isn’t strained from buying a bunch of special products or ingredients.
- I get to eat the food I like. I eat normal food and exercise when I can, and work to be moderate in both. I don’t have to avoid group functions, potlucks, or invites to people’s homes. I can eat whatever I want, and simply adjust portion sizes & watch liquid calories consumed.
- I’m at rest with reality. I’m not perpetually dissatisfied or anxious about something that fluctuates over time (my weight and curves as a mom).
- My body is doing what it was made by God to do, and I can find joy in His good design. Instead of potentially making an idol of my body (focusing on it above God & what He’s given me to do), I’m using this body for its unique purposes: nurturing life, sustaining health in my little ones by breastfeeding them, snuggling with the children He’s given me, and being the one who is with them, loving and training them (rather than off somewhere else, exercising for hours/day). AND I SAVED MY FAVORITE ONE FOR LAST:
- By not focusing on losing weight, I’ve managed to maintain a strong milk supply and breastfeed all our babies to at least one year old.
Hear me: I am not criticizing others who lose weight and look amazing after having a baby. Nor am I trying to formula-shame, or any other form of writing in order to shame other people. Nor am I claiming to be some obese cow… so please, no comments like, “awww… you look great; you’re not overweight!” Because I know I am overweight, and it’s OK… it really is.
But I *DO* want to speak up and free other moms, in a way that I had to struggle to feel free, to be a little chunky, and still be happy.
I am not trying to excuse unhealthy obesity or gross negligence of our physical form. No. That is sinful, and we *are* stewards of these bodies God gives us.
So I don’t want to make it sound like your health and weight don’t matter. They do.
But, if you happen to be a woman whose body works like mine, it’s OK for you to look like a mom… a full-bodied woman… a postpartum gal… when you’ve just had a baby.
There are seasons when other things (like making and feeding a baby) take a RIGHT AND GOOD PRECEDENCE over losing weight and being thin.
And you don’t have to feel guilty about that.
- No matter what our culture says.
- No matter what the ripped-ab lady in the interview says.
- No matter what the latest, trendy diet book says.
- No matter, even, if those people writing the book are Christians.
Be at peace.
These are 13 reasons why I’m a Chunky, Happy Mama.