When you become a mother, you experience a ton of the things you had always hoped for and dreamed about and also many, many things you never expected.
Thank goodness for friends both in real life and online who provided much-needed and appreciated advice both during pregnancy and after—it made some of those unexpected things a little easier to cope with.
Sorry this post is so late after the one-year mark, I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and write it until now.
I’ll start with weaning from pumping because I’ve been getting a lot of questions about that. The most important piece of advice I can offer here is to give yourself way more time than you think you need to wean from pumping. I thought I would need a week or two at most, but it ended up taking about a month to reduce from three to zero pumping sessions per day.
We were traveling at the beginning of June and I didn’t want to lug my pump with us, but my body was still making milk even though I hadn’t expressed in about five or six days the day we got on the plane. My breasts were sore and hard in parts, with lots of plugged ducts. Not painfully engorged like when I was first weaning from pumping, but it wasn’t comfortable, at all.
I used all of the tricks in the book— cabbage leaves in the bra (at night and on weekends when I was home), reducing time each pumping session (I used to pump for 30 minutes, so I went down to 20, then 10, then 5, etc). Eventually I would pump for just a few minutes to relieve pressure and I wouldn’t pump a lot so my supply was finally dwindling.
A few days into our trip, I was in a lot of discomfort so I hand-expressed in the shower. I know they say not to get hot water on your chest area when you are weaning, but the pressure was so intense, I just had to. That seemed to be the final thing I had to do to make the milk stop completely. The next day my body just felt different. It went from my breasts looking huge and full all the time to looking and feeling like they were pre-pregnancy (actually, better, and I’ll get to that soon). I was suddenly able to sleep on my stomach again and my chest finally felt normal. All of the hard lumps and plugged ducts were gone and it was such a relief.
A lot of my mom friends told me how hard it was to wean, particularly emotionally. I think because I pumped, I didn’t really get to experience that “last nursing session,” so as much as I felt sort of sad that it was all coming to an end…I also felt thrilled I wouldn’t have to be a) hooked up to a pump for hours, b) lugging the milk to and from work, c) planning my days around pumping… and the list goes on and on. I was so happy to have met my goal that it overshadowed any sadness. I think if I had nursed, it would have been more emotional for me.
Breastfeeding/Pumping with Breast Implants
I get a lot of questions about breastfeeding or pumping with breast implants. Way before I ever got pregnant, I emailed a blogging friend of mine because I knew she had nursed her baby girl and had implants. I wanted to know what her experience was like—I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed because of my surgery but she was really reassuring and even told me that she liked hers better after she nursed. I was surprised to hear this, but now I feel the same way. Maybe it’s just because they are not gargantuous anymore (seriously, it was no beuno), but they are totally back to normal and they actually feel softer than they did before.
Everyone is different, but my experience nursing/pumping with implants was very positive. I get asked a lot if looking back, I wished I had waited to get implants until after I had children? Given that I was able to produce more breast milk than my baby needed, the answer would be no, I’m glad I got them when I did. However, if I had not been able to produce milk or had low supply, my answer might be different, but maybe not. I would have probably attributed it to lack of breast tissue versus the implants, since under-the-muscle placement typically preserves the important parts for breastfeeding and many women breastfeed successfully with implants.
Body/Body-Image After Baby
When I was pregnant and nursing, I felt really good about myself. I’m sure it was all the endorphins and hormones racing through my body, but I felt more “happy in my skin” than ever before. I could be bare-faced with my hair in a topknot and feel great. There was just something about that time that made me feel really confident about my appearance.
After weaning, I experienced some blues that started midway into our Toronto trip. It was terrible—but I knew it might happen because Danielle warned me about the hormone crash she experienced when she weaned from nursing her daughter. I felt so sad/low…and it was both fortunate and unfortunate timing—I didn’t want to feel blue around my family and friends—but at the same time, my loving family and friends made it easier to leave those feelings behind when we spent time together which I so enjoy and rarely get to do.
I also suddenly felt really bad about myself and my body. It literally happened overnight and I remember Kevin trying to convince me that there is no way my body/looks changed overnight, but in my mind, they had. I didn’t have those positive feelings about myself anymore and I hated getting dressed (in the same clothes, mind you, that I had loved days prior to the big ol’ hormone crash). I was horribly bloated and felt totally blah for a couple of weeks.
My hormones seemed to have leveled-off now and I’m feeling a lot better. My body hasn’t changed much from the last time I posted an update. I feel like I’ve gained a couple of pounds since I stopped pumping, but that’s about it.
I’m looking forward to getting back into shape and making healthier choices as this year continues. What I miss the most is feeling energized. The feeling you get after completing a tough workout is awesome and I miss the long term benefits of having more strength and energy.
I purchased a 2-month unlimited barre class membership (it was on a daily deals site for 60% off!) and right now I’m trying to figure out the class schedule. I will likely go every Saturday and Sunday and maybe one weeknight if they have a class that’s after Harper’s bedtime. Really, even two days a week would be huge for me.
Speaking of healthier choices, I saw a nutritionist at work recently (it’s part of our employee health program) because I finally wanted to face my sugar addiction and actually do something about it instead of talking about it.
For years, I have been addicted to sugar. I have very little self-control when it comes to how often and how much sugar I consume. The only time in my life I can remember getting it under control is when Kevin and I were doing boot camp. I was in such great shape that I was more motivated to make better choices.
The past year of less sleep, constant pumping (which in and of itself requires a lot of calories—not from sugar though, obviously), going back to work, etc… kind of drained me so I was using sugar more than ever before as a “pick me up.”
The nutritionist meeting actually felt more like a therapy session. She talked to me a lot about why we make the choices we do, what motivates us and also explained the pathways the human brain makes when it comes to addictions. It was very interesting and it all made sense.
My nutritionist is nothing like I expected—-in fact, this HuffPost article totally reminds me of her approach. I thought I would go in there and she would be horrified and tell me I’m destroying my health and to never eat sugar again but it was the total opposite. She told me to look at my situation with compassion and without judgment or shame.
My first goal was to keep a food diary and really, truly think about my choices. Instead of eating because I’m tired, bored, stressed, etc, I ask myself- am I really hungry, or do I just want the feeling I get from eating something sweet? 90% of the time, I’m not hungry and if I am, there’s a better choice to be made than cookies, chocolate or sour patch kids (sorry, kiddos, it’s been a fun ride).
The nutritionist told me I should add more fat to my diet to ensure the meals I’m eating are filling. My breakfast, lunch and dinners are all healthy (think eggs, salads, sandwiches, meat, fish and veggies, etc)—but I used to eat something sweet (and lots of it) after every meal regardless of whether I was full or not. It became nearly impossible not to have a treat after lunch and dinner and I was never able to stop at just one or two cookies or a few pieces of chocolate. I craved it so badly and I would eat much larger portions than what is reasonable. Sometimes I even felt sick afterward yet that rarely stopped me. I would even start my days with a sugar-packed Luna bar which set me up to crash shortly afterwards.
Anyway, I see the nutritionist every two weeks for now. So far I have been happy with my progress. My goal isn’t not to eat sugar—that is crazy and impossible— it’s to learn to understand when I truly want something sweet (versus just out of habit) and then learn to approach eating sweets as a fun treat in reasonable amounts, versus eating sweets multiple times a day in unlimited amounts. It can be so tempting to indulge in every little treat (people at work always bring leftover food from meetings, donuts, cookies, etc.) but it’s also a surefire way to have constant sugar crashes.
Now, when I have a craving for sugar, I will often drink a cup of tea to let it pass. If I’d like to have something sweet, I have a few bites of ice cream (not half of the container) or a small serving of something (not eating cookie after cookie right out of the box). I’ve had a few slip-ups, but doing great overall. I’ve never had any discipline when it comes to sweets so I’ve surprised myself—that’s probably because I’m actually motivated to change my habits and I’m not going cold turkey.
I want to clarify that this is not about weight loss or “sugar detox.” I do not need or want to lose weight and I don’t want to stop eating sweets, because as I said earlier, that’s unrealistic (and quite frankly, you only live once, and I want to live in a world where Thin Mints can be a part of my life—in moderation). I’m looking to make better choices about what I fuel my body with so that I can have more energy and develop a better relationship with food.
Have any of you struggled with this? What helped you overcome it? I’m not interested in any kinds of diet shakes, detoxes or other diet products, but if you have some behaviors or practices that helped you moderate your sugar intake, please let me know! My best trick so far is tea. I love David’s Teas- they come in so many delicious flavors, some truly taste dessert-like.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions post below and I will come back to answer.