The Truth About Postpartum Weight Loss

Hello, friends!

Wow, so much has happened in my life (and the world) since my last post, which was almost 5 months ago! (Thanks for sticking with me…)

First things first, I’m no longer pregnant, which is really excellent because that means I’ve been snuggling the world’s sweetest, most perfect little baby boy for the past 2 months. My husband and I are completely in love with him, and becoming parents has been something we’ve dreamed about for ages so it really feels like the best and biggest blessing of our lives. I shared more about his birth story in the last newsletter that I sent out (here’s the link if you missed it) and today I wanted to share a little bit of what I’ve been thinking about since giving birth. (I’m guessing this will probably be theme for many of my future blog posts.)

A little birth story for you…

[Warning: this post contains reference to body weight, including numbers]

As I shared previously, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pay attention to weight gain during pregnancy. While my general belief is that we, as individuals should be the ones to advocate for and monitor our health rather than our healthcare providers being primary in that role, weight is the one exception. The truth is that weight just isn’t that important as a health marker, and while drastic changes can signal a problem, those problems are rare. I find that it’s healthiest for most people to ignore their weight and trust a HAES-informed healthcare provider to clue them in if such problems do arise.

I had a pretty uncomfortable experience in a healthcare provider’s office in the first trimester of my pregnancy because I was gaining weight faster than what was recommended. Granted, I had a firm understanding of the role of weight in pregnancy and a deep sense of trust in my body to do what it needed to do, but it still made me really upset (pregnancy is a vulnerable state) and I ended up changing healthcare providers partly for that reason.

Throughout my pregnancy, I was aware of my weight because I was curious to see what my body would do, but I wasn’t meticulously tracking it. I opted to not look at the scale at my prenatal appointments and instead weighed myself occasionally at home when I was in a healthy headspace. This allowed me to protect my own privacy by not having to discuss the number with another person if I didn’t want to. The last time I weighed myself was the day I went into labor, at 39 weeks and 2 days, two days before he was born.

One of my very last bump pictures!

I went into labor shortly after this photo was taken. The next photo was taken just a few hours after my son was born, and you can see that my belly is about the same size…

Forgive my lack of modesty in this photo, but I feel it gets the idea across like no other photo does…

Here’s the funny part…in addition to my belly size not changing, my weight didn’t really change, either!

I delivered a 7 pound baby, and add to that about 2 pounds (average) of placenta, nearly a liter of blood that I lost (about 1 pound) and let’s throw in another 1 pound to account for amniotic fluid & my profuse vomiting during delivery, that adds up to about 11 pounds.

When I weighed myself a day or two after getting home from the hospital, I’d lost four pounds.

2 + 2 = chicken.

Delivering a 7 lb. baby and losing only 4 lbs afterwards pretty clearly illustrates that monitoring weight is completely pointless.

This is a clear illustration of the fact that body weight involves a measure of so much more than fat (or muscle, or anything else) and how health involves a measure of so much more than body weight. Not that the level of fat on my body was of any concern after childbirth, but the disparity between the weight of material that exited my body during labor and delivery and the net change on the scale had nothing to do with calories in vs calories out. It was fluid balance and hormonal shifts causing water retention. But even more importantly, who cares?

Experiencing pregnancy and delivering my child radically changed my view of my body in what I believe to be really good, really God-honoring ways. While I was really proud of how much progress I’d previously made in surrendering that area of my life to the Lord, I was (and still am) far from perfect. However, I’ve come to see my body even more so as a vessel and a conduit for works rather than a treasure in and of itself.

I’m grateful for this perspective and pray that God continues to deepen the divide between my view of my worth and the number on the scale or my reflection. After all, I may never look even remotely close to my pre-pregnancy self again. Currently, my body weight is pretty similar to what it was prior to becoming pregnant but my shape and size are radically different (read: my old clothes don’t fit at all). Again, weight means nothing in terms of health or even appearance, not to mention of the futility of the latter. But that’s a rant for another day.

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