Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Don't Care About Losing This Baby Weight

I don't plan on loosing the baby weight.

Shocked yet? Isn't that supposed to be paramount on a pregnant or new mother's mind? Well, it's definitely on my mind, but I'm not thinking about how I'm going to lose the twenty pounds that I've gained so far this pregnancy. I'm thinking about how I'm going to explain to my friends and family that I couldn't care less about losing it.

This isn't my first rodeo. This is my third pregnancy. From my previous two pregnancies,  I've learned that exclusively breastfeeding makes me incredibly hungry. For those first six or seven months, I will still be eating for two. I've found that for the first two to three months in particular, that I'm far more hungry than I've ever been while pregnant. I can remember several specific instances when I discovered that the amount of food I was going to be served was grossly inadequate to satiate my near insatiable hunger and feeling absolutely panicked. Rationally I should have known that I could have just eaten what was served to me, made an excuse to quickly leave, then went home to eat some more. However, when I'm in the midst of that postpartum period, my hunger does not listen to rational argument. My hunger demands food. Lots of it. Immediately.

Yes, yes, yes. I should be eating five to six small meals a day. I'll add that to my list of self-care shoulds that routinely get ignored while I'm caring for two, soon to be three little ones. I'm lucky if I have the chance to sit down to three meals a day. So, if we're eating lunch together, I probably haven't eaten anything since seven a.m. Thanks for the offer, but no, I do not want to split a sandwich with you. Chances are I want a whole sandwich and a cup of soup and probably a cookie, too. And I want to eat it without commentary or judgment.

Please don't recommend that I eat a little something now and eat something else later. I might not get a chance to eat again for hours. I don't want to spend those hours until my next meal starving.

Recently while standing in line at the grocery store I read yet another headline about a celebrity loosing her baby weight in record time. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, if instead of praising women for how quickly they get back to their pre-pregnancy shape, they were praised for eating a nutritionally dense diet to establish and maintain a fantastic milk supply, and hell, maybe even making some extra to donate to a milk bank.

A few years ago I was a contributor to a friend's post-baby food tree. The coordinator sent out an email asking that contributors please drop off calorie dense foods. Contributors assumed that since the mama was a yoga teacher she'd want to eat fresh steamed vegetables and leafy green salads. What the mama really wanted, the coordinator explained, was rich, creamy pasta casseroles.

Unfortunately, our society seems to be fixated on the idea that faster is better when it comes to post-baby weight loss. And since eating is often a social activity, it matters whether or not friends and family support my decision to not lose weight. I have a hard time asking for more food or turning down offers to split a sandwich or an entree at a restaurant because I don't want to appear to be selfish or gluttonous. I have a hard time eating in front of anyone who has made comments about my weight gain or need to get back in shape after having a baby. It almost makes me want to eat in isolation for those first few months after having a baby so that I can hide the American-sized portions that I intend on eating. Hiding, however, doesn't sound healthy.

I think the main reason why I'm not worried about losing the baby weight is because I've done it twice before and I know that I'll do it again. I gained 40 pounds my first pregnancy and 25 pounds my second pregnancy. Both times, nine months later I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Nine months up, nine months down is my motto. If I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight nine months later that's just fine with me.

Now, if I'm for some reason I'm not back to my pre-pregnancy weight by nine months, I may start making some dietary changes. Luckily, in the past, exercise and breastfeeding have been enough to take the baby weight off.

So, friends and family, if you plan on eating with me for the first three to six months after I give birth, there are a few things you need to know.

As long as I am exclusively breastfeeding, as in baby is eating no other forms of food, I plan to eat nutritious, calorie dense foods in quantities sufficient to satiate my hunger. Nuts? Avocados? Full fat dairy products? Yes, please!

I will probably eat more than you will. If this offends your sense of equity, please don't eat with me.

As soon as my midwife clears me for exercise I will happily exercise with the intention of mood elevation, increased strength, flexibility and stamina. I will not use numbers on the scale or my clothing as motivation tools.

I know that many people will disapprove of my unwillingness to push myself to lose weight as quickly as possible. It's totally fine if you're one of them. I just might have to avoid you for nine months or so.

Luckily, my husband is supportive of my weight loss plans. I told him that I don't intend on trying to loose weight right away. He responded, "You have three years to loose the baby weight."

Clearly, I married the right man. Bring on the mashed potatoes!