Losing weight after giving birth was never my goal. My weight has been constant for the last 15 years, which can mainly be attributed to genes and only owning one car – I walk a half a mile per day, and my metabolism is high.
But I was grateful to have lost over twenty pounds within weeks of giving birth to child number four for my personal health, especially since it resulted from natural lifestyle changes. Here are the three things that I attribute to my postpartum weight loss. Some of them make immediate sense, but some of them will surprise you.
1. I (accidentally) changed my eating habits.
I loved being pregnant because I ate things that I would not normally eat. My pregnancy appetite was completely different, and I tasted food rather than just eating it. Post-pregnancy, I eat to live, meaning I eat because I need certain nutrients and dietary supplements to ensure my daughter receives the best breast milk.
I am also more deliberate about what I eat, although not completely on my own volition: my husband is vegan. I know, everyone does not have a vegan husband, and trust me, it definitely is inconvenient when it comes to sitting down for a family meal that everyone can eat. However, because of his diet, we have lots of fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator. Even my daughters understand the different between healthy foods and unhealthy foods. It has definitely shifted the way my family chooses to eat meals. He cooks more than I do, which is also helpful as I balance a busy writing schedule and multiple children.
Changing my eating habits has been by far the largest contributing factor to losing weight postpartum.
2. I have more kids.
Having older children on top of my newborn is one of the major reasons I've lost weight. I also have a school-aged special needs daughter and a preschooler, so I have a scheduled routine outside of my new baby. Between the both of them and an active 2 year old, I am constantly moving around (literally). I'm at the park at least once a week, cleaning up around the house, and chasing them around. That's more cardio than the average joe.
3. I breastfeed.
According to doctors, women burn 300 calories every time they breastfeed. My two hour breastfeeding session every day has made a huge difference in how my body burns calories. And that's a good thing, because what I did not include on the list is a rigorous workout routine. I pumped enough milk to go to a personal training session and I never went back; the truth is, I don’t have time. We make concessions where we must.
Balancing motherhood, writing, and my physical health has not been easy, but I am grateful that paying more attention to what I eat has paid off. No two women are the same, and no one should feel pressured to change their postpartum body, but personal health is so important. Prioritize yourself and build healthy, sustainable habits. Your body (and your kids!) will thank you.
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Eraina Davis-Ferguson is a creative nonfiction writer currently penning a memoir about raising a daughter with autism and deafness. Her story was featured in “The New Haven Register” She holds an M.Ed in Education and an MAR in Religion from Yale University. Learn more about her at erainaferguson.com.