"Breastfeeding gives you a six-pack," my best friend stated matter-of-factly. I had heard her say this before. She doesn't yet have children so it's kind of funny to hear this from her.
"Um, have you seen my belly lately?" I asked her. Of course she hadn't, unless she caught a glimpse of the flabby pale skin with purple stretch marks when I lifted my shirt to breastfeed. I most certainly do not have washboard abs.
I didn't gain an inordinate amount of weight with my pregnancy: the 40 pounds that I put on was within the healthy range for weight gain. After losing about 25 pounds in the first few weeks after giving birth to Joshua, I assumed the rest of the weight would melt off and I'd be below my pre-pregnancy weight in no time, especially since I was planning to exclusively breastfeed. Yeah right. I'm still hanging on to those last 10 pounds at seven months postpartum. But really, to me it's not about the weight. It's about how I feel, and I feel big.
I had thought I'd start losing weight again when I went back to work, since I'm on my feet and climb up and down three flights of stairs many times throughout the day. I bring healthy food for snacks and lunch, drink plenty of water, continue to express milk at work and breastfeed on-demand at home. But the weight hasn't come off. It turns out those rumors I had heard about it being easier to lose weight while breastfeeding do not ring true for me. Now I've heard from many mothers that their bodies hung on to those last 10 pounds until their babies stopped nursing.
I refuse to deprive myself of whole, real foods in order to lose weight. I know that I need to eat a healthy diet in order to continue to produce milk for Joshua, and I plan to continue to express milk for him while I'm at work until he's at least a year old. I don't want to harshly restrict my diet and end up reducing my milk supply. Worse yet, there's risk of depleting my body of nutrients because they're going into the milk I produce and not being replaced. I'd like to stay as healthy as possible, since I would like to have more children in the future.
I'm learning to live with the new me. I am a nursing mother. My body looks this way because I have carried Joshua inside me for nine months, and I have continued to nourish him for seven months and counting. I never feel uncomfortable at home, but somehow I feel less professional at work because I'm larger. I need to get over that, it's purely mental. I'm focusing on dressing nicely in clothes that fit my new body, wearing jewelry that I love and fixing my hair, so I can feel confident about how I look. I may not have a six-pack, but I never had one before anyway.