Tracie Egan Morrissey, a popular Jezebel blogger, posted this week that she spent $7,800 losing her baby weight. The story gained traction and was reported at ABC News and other places. Morrissey was determined to lose the weight in a timely fashion– in all, it took her just over a year.
Her desire to drop the weight, she writes, was swayed by the endless postpartum “body shaming” put forth by the tabloids. Rather than throw away these magazines, Morrissey read a little closer. She cobbled together a weight loss program based on celebrity advice, success stories (and cautionary tales) from the tabloids.
What to make of this? Is it really impossible to lose baby weight without adopting (and financing) the postpartum lifestyle of the rich and famous?
No. Yes. A few things:
Morrissey gained 80 pounds during pregnancy, that is a lot of weight to have to lose. I completely understand why things like meal delivery and diet plans were incredibly helpful– if costly– at a time of interrupted sleep, breastfeeding, newborn care and serious weight loss goals. Most new moms can’t afford diets at this price tag. But most new moms do need support in order to get anything done in the first year, let alone lose 80 pounds.
In cultures going back across time and around the world, there’s a serious tradition of women being cared for– fed, among other things– after giving birth. Most of these traditions call for 30 days of helping mom so she can care for her baby and rest. These days, most women have to put together our own deliveries and services, and they cost.
In many ways working out and healthy eating is easier to get done during pregnancy. Yes, it can be hard then, too–especially if your cravings point you in the direction of simple carbs. (One of my pregnancies was governed by an exclusive yearning for plain bagels and pasta. Legumes? Leafy greens? Hard to swallow.) Pregnancy can also be such a wonderful relief from the relentless pressure to be thin that women are confronted with from an incredibly early age. Morrissey writes that she had a laissez-faire or “lazy fare” attitude about food and that is was actually kind of “fun.” Also, some women– like Morrissey– gain more than others.
But the fact is, this 40 week period doesn’t exist outside the space/time/calorie continuum. Pregnancy weight gain recommendations have been enforced by doctors and midwives much more in recent years for a bunch of reasons– mostly because risks in pregnancy and birth are lower with healthy weight gain but partly because it’s easier to lose weight postpartum if you never gain it in the first place. It can feel like more pressure, but I don’t know… that body-shaming postpartum pressure is no walk in the park.
Did you have a lot of baby weight to lose? Did it cost you?
Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent. Follow her on Facebook.
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