Many of us — especially those of us who have yet to experience pregnancy — are often under the common notion that once your body grows and expands to accommodate a baby, it will never be the same again. And while that may deem true for some women, it’s not the same for all. I’ve often heard some women tell me, “pregnancy ruins bodies,” or “I don’t want to have kids ’cause I will get fat,” or “I’d rather adopt ’cause I don’t want to lose my figure,” etc. And, while it’s okay and normal for many women to have these superficial fears, ’cause, well, let’s face it, for those of us who deeply value and take care of our bodies, gaining weight — and that too lots and lots of it in such a short span of time — is a pretty scary thought.
I’ve always been a fairly slim woman, not skinny or bony but slim. And when I got pregnant last year, I admit that one of the first things I thought about, besides the great fear of giving birth of course, was how much weight I was going to gain and whether I’d ever be able to get rid of it once the baby was born. I’ve always been big on eating healthy and maintaining a weight that was in proportion to my height and Body Mass Index ( BMI). As someone who’s lost loved ones and relatives to cancer, heart attack (due to extremely high cholesterol levels) and other related diseases, I’ve always made sure that that didn’t end up being my fate. Of course, we all have our own ways of dealing with such matters and I am not the type to judge those who don’t observe the same values and ethics that I do when it comes to eating well and taking care of themselves. We are all beautiful, in our own special and unique way, and we shouldn’t have to feel pressurized to look or feel a certain way. I certainly don’t. However, my reasons for eating healthy and maintaining myself is more than only skin deep. It’s so much more than that.
Anyway, I gained about 25 pounds (on top of my pre-baby weight) by the time I was in my third trimester. Though it felt like I’d gained a lot, at the time, I’ve now managed to lose all 25 pounds and a few more. It didn’t take that long to do it either. As a matter of fact, I lost close to 30 pounds within three weeks of giving birth. And, mind you, it wasn’t like I was exercising or dieting either; rather, I was actually eating a lot. And everything in sight. I don’t think I ate as much during my pregnancy as I did as soon as I gave birth. I’d always be hungry; ravenous, in fact. And though I tried to eat as healthy as I could, I did consume copious amounts of foods; from pizza to sushi to my mother-in-law’s amazingly delectable dishes.
Now I am sure you — my reader — must be wondering: How the heck did she manage to lose all that weight and that too in such a short amount of time, while consuming so much food? Well, for me, personally, the secret to my quick weight loss was breastfeeding. I know it sounds odd saying this, but apparently breastfeeding works wonders for quick, efficient and healthy weight loss, while at the same time, allowing your baby access to the best food that no baby formula can ever match. Not only does it help to quickly shrink and tighten your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy stage, but it also burns calories like crazy! From my understanding, a woman actually burns from 500 to 1500 calories a day, of course, depending on how often she breastfeeds. I’d assume she’d burn more during the first couple months of breastfeeding, as that is the time when the baby is just a newborn and feeds every 1-2 hours, as opposed to breastfeeding in the later months, where the frequency of breastfeeding lessens to every 3-4 hours (or sometimes more, once the baby starts eating solids).
However, I must add that breastfeeding, for many women, is and should be a choice. No woman should be forced to breastfeed, if she doesn’t want to. It’s her body and she is free to do whatever she wants with it. And just because she chose not to breastfeed does not mean that she is unfit to be a mother nor that she doesn’t know any better. We also need to understand that breastfeeding, especially in the first couple weeks or so is extremely painful. Some women can handle the pain and put up with it, in hopes that it will get better (and it does get better eventually), but there are some, who can’t because they start bleeding and fall at the risk of getting infected, which of course is harmful to both the mother and the baby. There are ways that some women can still breastfeed, in the early days when it’s too painful, by either pumping their milk or through the help of soothing creams/gels (which are safe for the baby to consume as well).
Another thing I must also say is that while breastfeeding for many women is a choice, there are some women who just simply can’t breastfeed, meaning that they have a very low supply. Hence, their milk dries up fairly quickly, and then they have no choice but to resort to baby formula. So, while some women choose not to breastfeed, there are some who do actually want to breastfeed, but simply lack the ability to do so. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, as not all women are the same nor do they function the same way. No doubt, though, a woman’s body is amazing. Absolutely amazing.
Anyway, I digress, as usual! So, coming back to the topic of breastfeeding and weight loss, my reader should keep in mind that while breastfeeding helps significantly in tightening and shrinking the uterus quickly, as well as burning calories, it does not necessarily contribute to weight loss. Yes, it worked wonders for me — and still does — but, there are some women who breastfeed but still have all that weight they gained during pregnancy, or have only managed to lose a few pounds. And part of the reason for that is not only the types of food one consumes (which is usually quite unhealthy), but also the fact that some women become far less active and mobile, especially in the first three months of taking care of a newborn. And that’s okay and normal. Those of my readers who have children of their own must understand how difficult and, I hate to say this, boring the first three months are. The baby is too young to understand his or her surroundings and pretty much eats and sleeps most of the time. I know, for some women, this isn’t an excuse to do absolutely nothing with their selves, as I personally know a few who have started working out at home, either on their treadmills and ellipticals (if they own one at home) or started doing yoga, which in my opinion, is the best workout as it’s soothing/calming, while at the same time helps with toning the body.
I realize that pregnancy affects many women in different ways. Some women thoroughly enjoy it (like I did), while for others the whole nine months is nothing but nightmarish consisting of never-ending vomiting, backaches/body aches and heart burns. What’s worse is the amount of scars, wrinkles, loose skin and stretch marks that some women get after giving birth. And while they may do everything in their power to get rid of them, it simply won’t go away. To some, the markings on their body may be seen as “ugly” and “hideous,” yet, what these women need to realize is that these markings are not ugly nor hideous; they are in fact incredible, for they are a verification of the beautiful child that they carried inside their bellies.
Besides, my writing this blog post is not intended to put down those women — women who eat healthy, work out regularly, and take care of themselves, but still cannot achieve the body they had before they’d given birth. As a matter of fact, I salute those women — women who still feel beautiful despite the markings and what their bodies had endured during pregnancy.
While in fairly good shape, I know that my body will never be the same again either. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t try to work at it and be as healthy as possible. As a matter of fact, it has now been six months since I had my beautiful daughter, and it is only now that I’ve started to workout in the form of yoga and a workout routine that my husband just discovered recently, while browsing on YouTube, called Freeletics. (More about this awesome workout routine can be read on my hubby’s blog here.)
So, no, pregnancy does not necessarily “ruin” bodies; far from it, actually. As a matter of fact, pregnancy is a beautiful thing. A very, very beautiful thing. Heck, it’s one of the most significant things that makes us unique as females. While men may be able to do everything that we women can, one thing they cannot and will never be able to do is carry a child/give birth. And that is absolutely magnificent.