I’m in mourning. After going strong for almost 16 months of breastfeeding, it’s over. The not-so-baby-anymore-boy and I are moving along with our relationship. But I’m not mourning the actual breastfeeding relationship. I was ready to move on, or else I’d still be breastfeeding. And I was definitely ready to share baby put-down duties with my hubby. (Seriously, 16 months of putting the baby down every single night, and it’s nice to now be able to pass the duty off!) But no. I’m mourning those extra calories breastfeeding afforded me every day.
When you’re newly postpartum, you’re a ravenous BEAST. It was shocking how hungry I was after the birth of both babes. Hospital food tasted like something out of a movie, and I had times when I would have pushed people out of my way had they come between me and my next meal. You’re recovering from childbirth, you’re recovering from a pregnancy, and your body is demanding calories to support breastfeeding. I’ve read estimates that your body can burn 500 calories just supplying milk to a baby. It’s that bonus demand for calories that helps many women drop weight quickly postpartum.
While I never attributed breastfeeding to a miracle weight-loss cure, I have no doubt it helped. I was back at my happy weight about a year postpartum with my daughter (right in time to gain pregnancy weight!), and with my son, I was back at my happy weight about 6 months later (which I attribute just as much to chasing the older sibling as to breastfeeding). So while weight-loss luckily wasn’t a big concern for me, I know I was a lot more lenient with myself about our “all good things in moderation” rule. I splurged more than moderately sometimes (often) because I knew I had a built-in calorie cushion. And even though the demand for breastmilk tapers way off, there is still somewhat of a buffer there, even if it’s far less than that 500 initial calories.
But now that I’m officially done? Yep, no calorie buffer. And even just a couple of weeks later, I can just tell that my moderate splurges are going to have to be done more moderately. I’ve gotta get my moderate splurges under control or I’m going to have to slip back into maternity pants for all the wrong reasons! Now that I’m aware of it, I’m thinking I’ll be able to adjust my food intake pretty quickly. After all, I’m not hungry like a beast any more, usually. I just have to make sure I’m eating because I’m truly hungry, not eating because extra snacks have become a habit!
Did you notice you had to scale back on your extra snacking as soon as you pulled the breastfeeding plug? —Erin