Weaning from breastfeeding can cause you to gain weight. Who would have thought?

After the semi-annoying elevator exchange with my neighbor yesterday, this morning after my workout, I decided to hop on the scale (my first time since the beginning of the year). Last year, I’d had my weight checked a number of times: at my two OB-GYN visits, at my endocrinologist’s office, and a handful of times at home. I was proud to say that last year, I’d actually lost pretty much all my pregnancy/baby weight as of September and was back at my pre-pregnancy weight of 117 pounds. I wasn’t even sure how that happened so quickly, but I figured it was due to 1) genes, 2) lifestyle and diet, including exercising regularly, and 3) breastfeeding/pumping.

I’ve never been a scale checker; I never even owned a scale before I lived with Chris. So I always gauged my “weight” by how I felt and how I fit into my clothes. Around June of this year, I went to purchase new pants. Since the summer was quite hot, I actually hadn’t worn those pants (or any pants, for that matter) until this month… when I realized that the pants felt very snug around my waist and stomach. I already knew I had developed more belly fat at the beginning of the summer when I put on my swimsuit and looked at myself in the mirror; I wasn’t totally pleased with what I saw, but I tried to do more core strengthening work to address it. Then, because husbands always do what they do, Chris commented a couple times that he was surprised I had developed a little belly. “It must be because you aren’t pumping anymore! Maybe you need to start pumping again!” he teased, while poking at my belly.

That was not nice, but that was just a reminder to me of what I already knew: I was developing more fat around my mid-section.

So I hopped on the scale this morning, and BAM: there was a scary number staring back up at me: 129 pounds. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? I knew I had gained weight, but TWELVE EXTRA POUNDS?

I did some quick Google searches, and alas, it’s really because of weaning: it’s very common for mothers who breastfeed to gain weight once they wean. The reason for this is a sudden change of hormone levels that no longer push prolactin (the breastfeeding hormone) and instead push estrogen (they are at odds with each other hormonally). Your body is also adapting to no longer using up a large amount of energy (calories) to create and pump out breast milk for your baby. Your body is essentially adapting to a new normal, a new, postpartum, post-breastfeeding state. Who knew that at 21 months postpartum, I’d still be thinking and talking about my “postpartum state”?!

Late last week, I was already starting to incorporate different low impact workouts to vary things up for myself. But now, I’m also thinking about re-jiggering my workouts so that I always have an hour dedicated on weekday mornings. So many times, I’ve had to cut it short due to morning work calls. If it means I need to wake up earlier to do it, then so be it. Ten years ago to lose weight and get in shape, I used to wake up at 5:45am several mornings a week to go to bikram yoga! And when I wasn’t doing that, I woke up at 6am to get to a 7am hour-long workout class, and then worked out another half hour since I didn’t want to go to the office that early! If I could do it then, then I can definitely do it now, especially with a gym right in my building. I have no excuses, even with a toddler to help get ready every morning. I am definitely doing this: Operation Lose 12 Pounds in the next several months.

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