In this episode, Gillian talks about the pressures on moms to "lose the baby weight". Where this pressure originated from, why it doesn't happen the way moms are told it does or "should", and how to start healing and living without focusing on losing weight or changing the size of your body. You are not alone, Momma! I am here to inform, support and empower!
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The thoughts and opinions discussed in this podcast are solely the opinion of Gillian and/or her guests and for information/ educational purposes only. Gillian is not a licensed health or psychology practitioner. Please consult your healthcare providers prior to utilizing any information presented in the podcast.
Season 1 Episode 6: Pressure to "Lose the Baby Weight"? Here’s What to do Instead
Welcome everyone to season one episode six, the life sucking pressure on moms to lose the baby weight and how to change that.
Did you know that 64% of women said their body image had gotten worse since they became mothers? This is not okay. And I'm on a mission to change that. So going off of the episode five, my discussion with Sabrina Rogers and how we both, move towards a non diet lifestyle, a non diet motherhood after having our babies and feeling the pressure to lose the baby weight, I thought this episode would be all about the pressures on moms to lose the baby weight and how that has created so much stress on moms, that it can become unbearable. And really, that those constructs are truly from diet culture and patriarchy. The common, saying that most moms know, unfortunately is “nine months to gain nine months to lose.” And, really this was meant to, help moms realize that it would take time for their bodies to go back to their pre-pregnancy size, I should say if at all, but unfortunately this intention and the saying nine months to gain nine months to lose actually became more of a targeted timeframe, in our world of perfectionism of smart goal setting of wanting to conform to the status quo and what we see in social media. Unfortunately, this ”nine months to gain nine months to lose” saying became a target for moms, and I say this for myself as, as well, in which if you weren't back to your pre pregnancy size by the time your baby was nine months old. Then there was something wrong with you, that you were maybe a failure or maybe not a “Good Mom”.
So, let's just talk about what influences, moms’ post-pregnancy, weight loss, or body changes. I hate mentioning weight loss because it's completely normal that's sometimes moms don't necessarily lose the baby weight that sometimes that's how their bodies function now that their mothers.
And so I hope that this information isn't used in a way that you think you can, um, bio hack your way to, losing the baby weight, because that's not the intention of this podcast. That's not the intention of Motherhood UnDieted. However, I do think knowledge is power. I want to give you the knowledge as to what influences body changes post-pregnancy, and in fact post-pregnancy body changes are as unique as each individual mom, due to the unique aspects including physical and biochemical factors, biochemical factors include hormones. Those huge hormone shifts that occur after baby's born. Other factors can include stress, pregnancy and birth recovery, feeding method support and all of the determinants of health.
Another common myth out there is that breastfeeding will help, moms’ bodies shrink back to pre pregnancy size, uh, that breastfeeding will “melt off the pounds”, but that's not necessarily the case. And in, in my story that wasn't the case either. And at the time, I didn't understand the mechanisms at work that were preventing that postpartum body shrinkage that I was hoping for. So, if you're, breastfeeding, just because you think it will help you lose “the baby weight” well, that's not, necessarily the way things will happen. I do encourage you to continue to breastfeed, but take off that expectation, that the weight loss will happen.
So, some of the things that influence body changes with breastfeeding,
-Hormone changes that increased level of prolactin, which produces the breast milk. Can cause moms hold onto fat stores so that they can produce enough milk for their baby. This is a good survival mechanism that, we've had since the beginning of time. So that even in times of famine, moms are still able to produce breast milk to feed their babies.
- It doesn't necessarily occur, and it might not even occur, after weaning for many months, if at all
- Increased Stress Response: Causes the increase of the cortisol hormone. Which can cause our bodies to store more fat,as the brain anticipates for needing more fat preserves.
- Decreased nutrient absorption,
- Increased nutrient excretion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium, and selenium.
- Increased nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin C, vitamin B iron zinc, selenium, and again,
- Increased cortisol levels can cause increased weight gain or inability to let go of extra weight.
- Decreased Growth Hormone: key hormone for healing and rebuilding body tissue.
-Decreased thyroid hormone, which can lead to lower metabolic activity
- Increase inflammation.
These things are common in the postpartum period. So, if we think of all the things new moms are going through, lack of sleep, stress with getting breastfeeding, going and established the type of birth they had, the type of healing that needs to happen. If their birth was, a traumatic birth. It depends on how much support they have as well at home. And especially during the pandemic, the amount of support that new moms have has significantly decreased. So, if moms were stressed before from lack of support, then they're even more stressed now. So, if we add on top of that more stress and more pressures of the expectation for moms to lose the baby weight, then what does that do?
That just piles on more stress increases the stress response even more. If you include calorie restriction and, heavy exercise to lose the baby weight. That increases the stress level even more and increases all those effects that I just mentioned about, the stress response.
It doesn't help moms for healing, milk, supply, mental health wise. And it doesn't help babies either because in that state of stress and anxiety, throw on other, postpartum and perinatal mental health concerns, it really can damage the ability for moms and babies to bond together and, and to focus on what is needed, which is healing, their own body for moms and nurturing the growth and wellbeing of the baby.
From my experience, I found a new way of living a new way of mothering. That takes that pressure off of, the need to conform, to social media and diet culture, and celebrity standards, of having your body go back to what it was pre- pregnancy.
So what can we do instead? This is a wonderful question and something that I've been really, passionate about.
1- Giving yourself some self-compassion
- Put your hand to your heart, take a deep breath and tune into yourself.
- Know that your presence instead of perfection or body size will make all the difference in the long-term next self care.
2- Self- care: My self- care, in the early days, was having a reminder for myself to go and brush my teeth and bringing that habit back into my daily life. There's no one way to do things.
3- Seek/ Ask for Support: Having your partner or a trusted family member or friend to watch your baby so you can have time for Self-care.
4- Lose the mom guilt around taking care of your needs. Taking time to take care of yourself is okay and healthy. It's okay to seek support to care for your child so you can care for yourself.
5 - Honour your hunger: When you feel hunger and sometimes you might not even feel it, because you're so busy. If you can’t feel your hunger then think to yourself “after the baby feeds, then I feed myself”.
Hunger Signs: Feeling of an empty stomach, Light-headedness, a headache, feeling frustrated, or thinking about food.
Eat foods that are nourishing and energizing and satisfying to you. Not what then next and new lose the baby weight diet.
6- Body Neutrality/Acceptance: Acknowledging and having gratitude towards your body for the miracle that it is. Health does not have a specific body size or weight and know that you are worthy of love, care, and support at any size.
7- joyful movement: Not strenuous exercise, but activities and movement that you enjoy. without the goal of changing your body size or “losing the baby weight”
I hope this was helpful for you. Those are some main ways of combating the societal pressures of diet culture, and patriarchy on moms to “lose the baby weight”. I'll just repeat them again, approach yourself with self-compassion; ask for support so you can have self- care. Honouring your hunger; move towards body neutrality or body acceptance; and include joyful movement.
If you have any questions about this episode, please feel free to reach out to me. You can email me at email@example.com and I would be more than happy to answer your questions.
If you're in the place, where you feel like you are tired of being on this. rollercoaster of trying to lose the baby weight. I am here to support you.
I've developed a program that's meant specifically for moms in that post-pregnancy period, with little time for themselves, but wanting to find different ways of healing and caring for themselves in the postpartum period. It’s called the Mom Body Trust program.
· It's a six week program, individual coaching with me.
· I use all of my background from being a former mom and baby nurse, the lactation consultant and a Non- Diet Mom Coach.
· To help you find simple ways of healing postpartum and transitioning into motherhood.
· So you can Feel empowered and strong and healthy.
· Here's the link for the Mom Body Trust program,
Have a wonderful day. Bye for now.