A Post-Baby New Year's Resolution Plan
Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
JANUARY 17, 2020
It's the start of a New Year and losing weight seems to be one of the most common New Year's resolutions. It also happens to be a common theme/struggle for many moms in the postpartum period, regardless of the time of year. So, if you've had a baby recently (or maybe not so recently), chances are, you may be feeling some pressure to kick it into gear.
If you happen to be one of the lucky few born with a great metabolism, you can stop reading now. At twelve weeks post-delivery, you may already be back in your skinny jeans, and no one could guess that you've just had a baby. Or, if you're a professional model/actress able to employ a full-time cook, nanny, personal trainer, housekeeper, and other miscellaneous staff, same deal. For the rest of us, (myself included) who couldn't pull off the skinny jeans look before pregnancy, just know that you are not alone.
I am not a diet expert, and the purpose of this blog post is not to give you instructions on how to lose your pregnancy weight. There are many books/videos/websites and such that can advise you on that front. The purpose of this post is to give you a reality check. For those who are breastfeeding, you may have already come to accept that despite what you might have read, breastfeeding may not be the magic bullet for weight loss that you had imagined. There may be some women for whom this works, but based on the hundreds of postpartum women I've met throughout my 20+ years of professional experience, I don't believe that the number, in regards to actual pounds lost, is statistically significant.
Let's face it, the tried-and-true methods of weight loss, i.e., healthy eating and exercise, are really, really hard to do when you are sleep deprived and caring for an infant. Sometimes, especially in the early weeks, just getting a daily shower is a major accomplishment. If you have a support crew that is regularly available to assist with grocery shopping and meal prep, consider yourself very lucky. For those moms trying to manage largely on their own, a meal is often whatever you can grab out of the fridge, something you can get via a drive thru window, or anything you can unwrap and eat with one hand. The stuff that isn't on the food pyramid is often the staple of hungry moms. Prepare a salad? You've got to be kidding me.
So here's my advice, do the best you can. Recognize that for most of us without a professional team or nearby family support, post-baby weight comes off slowly and gradually over time. Most moms going back to work at twelve weeks aren't back into their pre-pregnancy clothes, so stop beating yourself up, and just buy a few items to get you through.
You'll get there, but it may take a little longer than you would like or are used to. Nine months on, nine months off is a more realistic mantra to follow. Be gentle with yourself, give your partner the chance to be in charge on days/times that work with your family schedule so that you can work your way back to the gym. If losing baby weight is important to you, let's call it a "Nine-Month Resolution" and see how we do.