Getting fat was one of my biggest fears about getting pregnant. I maaaaay have even subconsciously put off getting pregnant as a result of this fear. I wasn't afraid of the kind of "fat" that happens because you are currently pregnant (I advocate for healthy pregnancy weight gain). I'm referring to the extra 20, 30, 40+ pounds that some people carry for years after baby. The kind of extra weight that makes it uncomfortable when you cross your legs or try to get up from a cushy chair. The kind of extra weight that makes you uncomfortable in your own skin.
I assumed that after I had a baby, I would have flappy skin that hung down to my knees, and I was positive that my belly would be covered in stretch marks that made my tum tum look like a road map. I knew for certain that my bikini wearing days would be a thing of the past. To be honest, I was sure of that before I ever got pregnant because my weight had escalated to the highest it had ever been in my life. I had surrendered to the notion of being a big girl from there on out when we decided to have a baby.
After trying to conceive for the better part of a year (another day, another blog), I found the motivation to take control of my steady weight gain and dropped 13 pounds in about 6 weeks by incorporating calorie counting (and logging), portion control, and lots of exercise. Bada bing bada boom, I got pregnant, thereby putting the brakes on my diet. I couldn't have been happier... that was 13 pounds I wouldn't have to lose later.
By 28 weeks gestation, I had gained 27 pounds. That was not exactly on track with the recommended 25-35 pound recommended gain. I had slipped back into overeating and the holidays were not kind to me or my will power. At 30 weeks, I got a bomb dropped on me. A big fatty boombalatty bomb. I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. Yuck.
I was put on a strict diet/eating schedule. I lost 4 pounds in the first couple of weeks after my diagnosis but then slowly began putting some weight back on as Theodore rapidly grew. By the end of my pregnancy, I'd gained a nice, even, OB/GYN-recommended 30 pounds. Though I was initially devastated to learn that I had Gestational Diabetes, in retrospect I am thankful because I ate healthier than I ever had during those last 9 weeks of pregnancy. It was good for me, good for the baby, and I was diet-controlled throughout (I didn't have to take Insulin).
I gave birth on a Monday and by that Friday, I'd lost 10 pounds. A week later, 17. Two and a half weeks post partum, I'd lost 21. Aaaaaand cut. I thought the rest of the weight was there to stay.
I didn't lose an ounce from 3 weeks postpartum until I went back to work at 12 weeks postpartum. 10 pounds FELL OFF with no effort whatsoever in the next 6 weeks or so. I do believe this is tied in with breastfeeding, as I recently read an article saying that you get the most weight loss benefit out of breastfeeding between 3-6 months. Since then, I've lost another 5 or so.
Total weight gain during pregnancy: 30 pounds
Total weight loss 5 months postpartum: 36 pounds
I realize that with breastfeeding, I am burning an extra 500 calories or so a day. As that decreases, I will have to watch my calorie intake and remain active, both of which have been problematic in the past. I'm finally comfortable with my weight ... more so than I had been for 2-3 years before I had a baby. Sure, my stomach is softer and my hips are wider now, but these are small prices to pay. For the first time in a long time, I can say I'm happy with my body. Would I have been happy with this body 5 or 10 years ago? Probably not, but it is what it is.
At the end of the day, I don't believe that weight loss success has anything to do with numbers, rather it is a feeling. It's feeling healthy and energetic and having the desire to move. It's fitting into the clothes you want to wear and liking what you see in the mirror.
I hope that if anyone else out there is scared of the pregnancy weight gain, maybe this will lend a little encouragement. It CAN be done! My only advice: Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed. (I don't mean this to sound rude if you can't or choose not to...I'm just saying this was the secret to my success. With that being said, I do realize that losing the weight was easy for me, but I DID have to work hard to successfully breastfeed, therefore I think I deserved and was a recipient of the easy weight loss by default).
p.s. About the stretch marks: I was diligent about putting on Burt's Bees Mama Bee belly butter every single day. That, drinking lots of water, and slow, steady weight gain may have saved me ... I only got two stretch marks (one on each hip). I may choose not wear a bikini again, but it wouldn't be the scariest thing ever if I did!