This is the first in a series of posts I have planned about weight loss. Mine, specifically. Yes, I know, not exactly thrilling reading but I know that I am always interested in hearing about post-baby weight loss stories and for me this is kind of like going to a Slimming World meeting but I don’t have to pay and can wear pyjamas!
To begin, here’s a little background:
I think I must have been about 187 pounds when I found out I was pregnant, which was about 10 pounds heavier than my “happy” weight.
When I got weighed 9 weeks after Gwenn was born, I was about 220 pounds, meaning that (by my very loose calculations) I put on about 30 pounds during my pregnancy, which is frigging loads! I think the average weight gain guidelines are something near 25-30 pounds, but this is including baby and fluid!!
Fifteen stones and ten pounds is the weight of an actual human man.
I have lost 1 and a half stones since then, which is pretty rubbish really. I breastfed until 40 weeks which I used as an excuse to make zero effort. I am a very emotional eater and as I am teetotal, I tend to rely on rubbish food as stress relief. In terms of exercise, I don’t do any but I am a really prolific walker! I am averaging about 80-82,000 steps on a weekly basis.
I need to get serious about this now, for both appearance and health reasons, so the other week I set out a Get Fit plan, which I will be using to help me reach my weight loss goal, alongside posting here couple of weeks (which I’m hoping will instill some fear into me!)
I know there are lots of ways to measure weight loss, but I prefer scales over tape measure so I’ll be weighing myself and sharing the results here. I’ll also let you know my step count, which needs to be at least 70k.
Here are my first set!!!
Current weight: 14 stones 4 pounds
Weight lost this week: N/A
Weight lost so far: 1 stone 7 pounds
Steps this week: 80738
My weight loss target is 12 stones 4 pounds which would take me to about half a stone lighter than I was when I got married (the lightest I have ever been in my adult life was 12 stones 7 pounds, in the January before I got married). Obviously I would like to be even lighter, but I think 2 stones is a reasonable target for now.
How much weight did you put on when you were pregnant? And, more importantly, how did you lose it?
Today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week (on a Thursday, yes, that is odd?) but I never really considered writing a post in honour of it. I’ve read a lot over the last seven days and I always enjoy hearing about other people’s breastfeeding experiences but, really, I didn’t feel I had anything to add. Plus, I’ve already written about my feeding journey in various posts so I felt like I’ve said what I wanted to say.
I’m not breastfeeding now. I stopped when Gwenn was 40 weeks. I feel that was a mistake but there’s nothing I can do about it now. Having breastfed, I totally get why people rave about it. I honestly feel like I was never as complete as when I was breastfeeding and I will never feel as whole ever again. At the same time, having had a lot of problems with feeding and having used formula alongside the whole time, I totally get why a lot of women “give up” in the early stages. I don’t really like the phrase “give up” because it kind of suggests laziness which I would imagine is 100% not the case and that the ladies who can’t carry on cry a lot of tears over the decision.
If I were to have another baby, then I would intend to breastfeed again and I’d like to think it would go more smoothly because I know what to expect now.
And that is the purpose of this post.
Know what to expect.
I’m an honest person. I scarred a pregnant woman indefinitely at Center Parcs by saying “When I was in labour, at times if I’d been given the choice between being humanely killed or carrying on, I’d have gone with the former”. (Basically, NEVER EVER ask me what labour is like!)
So, my advice to anybody who is pregnant and wants to breastfeed or isn’t pregnant but thinks they would breastfeed if they had a baby is this:
Establishing breastfeeding is hard.
Most newborns will want to feed every two hours. So if you start feeding at, say, 12, and the baby feeds for maybe 45 minutes then you will have an hour and 15 minutes before the next feed. And this might go on for 24hrs for weeks. You might not even get an hour and 15 minutes between feeds. You might get more. But prepare yourself for the fact that, if you want to give it a real go, you are best off sitting on the sofa with no top on for at least a month. And it might hurt a bit at first. If it really hurts, the latch might be wrong, so ask for help, but even if the latch is correct, feeding constantly does nobody’s nipples any good and the best cure is to smother them in Derma Mum and go braless (which is such an amazing look when the father-in-law comes over).
If you want to breastfeed exclusively, then you can’t really be separated from your baby or your breast pump for very long. If you go out, then you might find yourself hand expressing in a toilet cubicle after leaking all over your top. If you plan to leave baby for a long time, then you’ll have to plan where you’re going to express in order to avoid painful boobs or worse, mastitis.
Breastfeeding, exclusively or not, involves a massive personal sacrifice.
But nobody wants to tell you this. The NHS wants breastfeeding rates to rise so, understandably, health professionals want to skirt around the gory details. Not all of them; I don’t want to generalise unfairly. I moved just before birth and my new HV said that she wished she had met me before I had Gwenn so she could have prepared me for how hard breastfeeding could be. I just thought it would be so easy because it’s natural and I have boobs so, you know, sorted. WRONG!
I don’t mean to put anyone off. Why would I? I loved breastfeeding (eventually) and the fact that we combination fed meant that I could get a break sometimes and Andrew could help out. I would combi feed again in the future; it worked for us. But, if you think that breastfeeding will look like that Aptimil advert – all white furniture, glossy hair, and serene smiles – you are probably going to be disappointed.
I am hugely pro-breastfeeding and I think that it’s worth enduring a bit of discomfort in the beginning in order to get things started. I largely suffered in silence but there are loads of places you can get help and my HV was always trying to get me to go a breastfeeding drop-in at my Sure Start.
At the same time, I don’t think there’s any shame in deciding that breast isn’t best for you. I felt genuinely devastated in the beginning when we used formula but now I look back and I’m not bothered. What seems like the end of the world at the time will seem fairly unimportant in five years from now.
I have spoken to lots of people who, like me, thought that because breastfeeding was “natural” then that equated with “easy”. For some people it is mega straightforward but for most, or at least most people I have asked, it is not.
So, I truly wish all the breastfeeding mamas a “Happy Breastfeeding Week”! We got there in the end!
Click on the button below to read more breastfeeding stories, via Zena’s Suitcase
I am a great believer in learning from my mistakes. A lot of the ill advised decisions I have made over the years – and having to live with the consequences – have made pretty darn sure that I will never make the same error again in the future. I’m not sure if this is just something inherent in me, or if it’s the way I was raised. (I would go with the latter, taking as an example the time I was a teenager and my dad said to me: “Bethan. If you wanted to you could go out and get a tattoo on your forehead for all I care, just don’t complain to me about it when you regret it five years down the line!!!)
But having lived my life careering from one disaster to another, I’m starting to think that maybe it is even better to learn from someone else’s mistakes, and I like to think that’s where me and my blog come in!
Having got my pregnancy wardrobe totally wrong, and then my breastfeeding outfits, I have kind of become a bit of an expert; the Trinny and Susannah of the maternity and nursing world, if you will. If I can take any positives from it, it would be that “next time” I would totally know what not to do and also that in having got it so wrong, I can share some tips with you lovely lot.
I must admit, I didn’t really prepare my wardrobe much beforehand. I thought it would be silly to get a lot because you just don’t know what’s going to work and what will be a waste of money so all I got was a maxi skirt from Primark and a cream tunic top from H&M. When I was in Newcastle for my pre-baby hair appointment (which turned out to be a week before she was born, as she was early) I went into Bravissimo to get fitted for nursing bras but they didn’t have any appointments for ages and I was too hot and pregnant to hang around. So, I figured I would just wait to see how big my boobs got and I had some maternity sleep bra things which I thought would do in the meantime.
I don’t think a lack of preparedness was my main downfall though. To cut a very long and sad story short, the number one thing I got wrong during the early stages of breastfeeding was I made the mistake of caring what I looked like; life would’ve been A LOT easier if I hadn’t. I have mentioned before that it took a long time for breastfeeding and me (and Gwenn) to get along and because I was so absolutely devastated and felt as if my dream was slipping away from me, I felt like I needed to take control over at least one part of my life, and that part was my appearance. Even when Gwenn was days old, I was making sure I had a proper bra with matching knickers on, clean styled hair, actual clothes (as opposed to PJs), the whole shebang, just in case anybody who came over judged me for not having done so.
Because I didn’t have a lot of stuff that made it easy to breastfeed in and because I was obsessed with looking presentable, the outfits I wore usually resulted in me having to take off all my clothes when Gwenn was hungry, so I just didn’t go out of the house. It made for a very miserable summer and it is something I regret.
What follows is basically a list of what I would buy if I did it all over again. It is very personal to me, my shape and style, but hopefully you can take some ideas from it?
After having done a lot of research, I can confirm that no nursing bras fit me. There are not many brands who go up to my size and even those that do are still no good because they are wireless. I bought two in the nine and a half months that I was feeding Gwenn: one in the closest size I could get to my actual measurements (trust me, next best thing is no good when you need a 36 JJ) and one which was supposed to be the right size but gave me no more support than a sleep bra. Consequently, I never wore them outside the house and if I wanted to feed her in public I would wear my normal bras and end up taking all of my clothes and said bra off. Not exactly discreet!
When Gwenn was almost six months, we went to the Lakes with my mam and step-dad and I had to think of something, because we were going to be out all day for 6 days in a row and getting naked was not going to be an option. This is when I had the plunge bra idea. These bras are so low cut that you can easily manhandle your boob out and squish the moulded cups down and out of the way. Admittedly, this is probably not advised in the manufacturer’s care instructions but you gotta do what you gotta do!
When I was road testing the idea, I went for the Wild at Heart bra from Bravissimo, which is based on a shape that comes in various prints. They also sell lots of plain moulded and plunge styles, if you wanted something more neutral.
I would one hundred million percent go down this route again. If I were in the house, I would wear a sleep bra; if I were outside, it would be a padded plunge. This is not for everyone, I do understand that, but I could cry when I think how different things might have been if I’d had the idea sooner.
(Another note on underwear: I always felt loads better if I had on kind-of-matching underwear. I bought a few pairs of dark blue knickers to go with my Wild at Heart bra for example, so I knew I looked pulled together underneath my clothes even if I look horrific on the outside!)
My wardrobe is predominantly dresses, but they can be a bit of an issue if breastfeeding. The first option is to go for something that buttons through.
This shirt dress is pretty amazing, and I’ve seen similar shapes on ASOS recently.
I bought this shirt dress about a year before Gwenn was born, and got loads of wear out of it.
Alternatively, you could wear something quite low cut and I found that a lot of maternity dresses tend to be already geared up to nursing in this way, so you only have to buy once, if you get what I mean. And obviously there are “proper” breastfeeding dresses but they were too expensive for me to consider. These Bibee dresses are lovely though.
A top half and a bottom half are probably what most nursing mums go for. I never wear jeans or leggings, so for me it was always a skirt with something tucked in. Still a massive faff on but I personally found it easier to pull something up rather than button something down. “Next time” though I think I’d look for tops that didn’t have to be tucked in at all; crop teeshirts are everywhere, and not expensive at all and I already have loads of midi skirts so maybe these looks would work for me (minus the heels 😉 )?
Make what you already have work: You’ll probably already have loads of stuff that will work for you and you don’t have to buy things that are specifically marketed as nursing clothes. Obviously it’s nice to treat yourself to newness but having a baby is expensive enough without buying a completely new wardrobe.
Explore charity shops: I love charity shops. I once got a Masai Company dress for £5 that was £85 in a department store the previous year. I have loads of vintage St Michael (I mean, does it get better than St. Michael?!?!) and I have been very lucky to find premium brands like Jaeger and Betty Barclay for pennies. Obviously it helps if, like me, you are happy to dress as an old lady 😉
Focus on other areas: If you feel like your clothing choices are being governed by boob accessibility and that you are wearing the same things over and over, why not focus on other areas? Maybe invest in a really nice blazer or a cashmere cardigan. Or buy some new shoes and a bag, neither of which are affected by fluctuating breast size (as far as I am aware).
Take care of yourself: I loved having my regular eyebrow and eyelash tint when Gwenn was little because a: I look much better for it but b: it’s nice to spend a bit of time being pampered, even if just for 15 minutes peace. If I had more money then I would have been going for facials and massages and all sorts.
Google like mad: These are some of my favourite breastfeeding fashion websites and blogs –
Don’t care too much: For me, and the majority of other women I know, it is important to look nice. Rightly or wrongly, a huge part of my self-esteem comes from how I look. But in the early days of no sleep and rest, constant feeding, sterilising, welcoming visitors etc etc, it really doesn’t matter if you have washed your hair or your jeans are clean. The biggest mistake I made was expecting too much of myself as a new mum and putting too much pressure on myself to look a certain way. Yes, I have just shared with you some tips on looking good while nursing, but ultimately your wellbeing and your baby’s health are what is priority.
So there you have it. Hardly an exhaustive list but just a few thoughts that popped into my head about breastfeeding fashion.
To find out more about all areas of nursing, click on the badge below and read more entries to The Breastfeeding Diaries on Zena’s Suitcase.
My Word of the Week is not the word I originally chose. I have a draft written about another word but today I just felt the post was quite negative.
So, the new word I have chosen is “Out”.
When I was pregnant my sister-in-law, who has three children under 14, said that one thing she thought was really important when you have a baby is just to go out. Doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, doesn’t matter if your hair is dirty, doesn’t matter if your house looks like a bomb’s gone off, just get out there, in the fresh air and be “out”.
I was terrible at going out when Gwenn was a baby. For the first six months she would only feed with nipple shields. It made feeding in public quite difficult and anybody who has had to use shields will understand why! So I just never went out. It makes me genuinely sad to think of that time.
Just before she was 26 weeks, Gwenn decided shields were for losers and things started to get better. But I must admit I’m still not particularly spontaneous (although to be fair, I never have been in 31 years so it’s unlikely to change anytime soon) and I don’t feel that we spend enough time just getting out there and going places. I spend far too much time structuring our day around my “things to do” list.
Today we had to go to my mam’s for a bath (long story) and as I was getting us ready to leave my step-dad asked “So, where are you off to?” I genuinely had no idea. “We’re just going to walk and see where we end up”, was my reply.
I kind of wandered for about 30 minutes until I reached a bridle path that leads to a pit heap and then onto a country park which has a really lovely cafe and visitor centre.
We (or rather I) had a really decent (largely uphill 🙁 ) walk through the park and I tried to explain as much of what we could see to Gwenn.
When we got to the centre the cafe was heaving but there were loads of tables outside, which was what I would have chosen anyway because it was a sitting outside type of day. I got us a sandwich each and we shared a slice of banana cake (although I feel the sandwich/cake ratio was skewed in Gwenn’s favour).
On the way back home I took this photo in which you can see all the way to Sunderland.
We walked past a supermarket and bought some “essentials” 😉 and Gwenn slept on the way back and I didn’t stress about it (usually I like to be home for her afternoon nap so I can catch up on housework).
All in all it was a great day. I think amongst the efforts to look nice and maintain a tidy house, my ability to just go out and enjoy myself has been lost somewhere.
We are just at the beginning of Summer and Gwenn has started to take her first few steps. If ever there was a time to be “out”, this is it.
It’s been a while (about two weeks) since I did any blogging but I’ve been feeling like I should check in before I forget how to use WordPress 😉 and just say Hi!
Over the past fourteen days I have vacillated between “Thank God I’m not doing the blog anymore” and “I really miss the blog”. Today I am missing it and I am full of ideas of where I want to take it, hence the post.
I’ve decided to link up with the Mums’ List linky, hosted by Hannah at Mums’ Days even though this is a round up of the last fortnight, not just the last week. I’m sure she’ll forgive me?
On Easter Sunday it was Gwenn’s first birthday. We didn’t have a birthday party, but here are a few photos of the weekend.
Recently we have been all about moving house; practically every conversation and activity has involved the big move in some way shape or form. Fingers crossed, we are completing this Friday (until I have the keys in my hand I won’t believe it). We went to see the house again on Monday and it put such a spring in our step. It gave us a glimpse of how our life will be once we live there and despite not wanting to get too excited, I am TOO excited! I am planning to do a proper post about the move, once it happens and maybe some stuff about the renovations, if I have the time and feel like it’ll be of interest to anyone?
This has also been “shit mam” week. Basically, I have been feeling like my mam skillz have been fairly poor. What set it off was comparing Gwenn to other babies her age, and especially when I heard somebody talking about their baby’s speech. Not a single family member or health professional has ever suggested that Gwenn is behind with her language development but I got it into my head that the fact she only dadas and mamas at the moment is my fault and that I’m not talking to her or reading with her enough.
Then, I started to feel really down about how I look and I’m very aware that by this stage, I really shouldn’t be going around looking as bad as I do on a regular basis. But I have been prioritising sleep over everything else, so getting up early to go in the shower, wash my hair, whatever, has been the furthest thing from my mind and I don’t really give myself much time to make myself presentable before me and Gwenn go out for the day.
On top of that, I have been feeling guilty about how often we have been leaving her with my mam while we have been packing up the flat, going to buy new furniture, visiting the new house to take measurements, all the house move-y things. It’s bad enough that I’m at work three days a week, now I’m palming her off on relatives when really I should be with her on my days off.
So, all in all, I have been feeling really down on myself but I couldn’t really work out why all of a sudden I was feeling so vile when the things that have been getting me down aren’t exactly recent developments (trust me, I’ve been looking a clip for the last year 😉 ) Well, prepare yourself for TMI time but I think it’s all down to breastfeeding hormones, or lack thereof. I stopped breastfeeding completely the same week I went back to work (when Gwenn was about 9.5 months) but I was still lactating (this is what I meant by TMI!!) for at least 8 weeks after that. I stopped checking after two months because I knew that the day I did, and nothing came out (again, TMI) I would feel like the worst person in the world. But, after three months, I know I have definitely stopped “producing” and I have been feeling really upset and empty. I have been having really vivid and distressing dreams in which Gwenn is either still feeding, or she tries to but nothing happens and I’m in loads of pain. Now that I know that there’s no way we can ever breastfeed again I am feeling guilty for giving up but also useless because I now have nothing to offer her that she couldn’t get from anybody else. For example, when she was about seven months old, we were in the village and had about 35 minutes to get some lunch before Andrew had an appointment to have his hair cut. We bumped into Andrew’s brother and wife and they offered to take Gwenn while we got something to eat so we went into a pub while they took her for a walk. While Andrew was in the hairdressers, I had a walk around some second hand shops and got a phonecall from my sister-in-law saying that Gwenn was really distressed, that they had tried everything (and they have three children so they have the skills!) but she was going to have to bring her back. When I met them, Gwenn was crying so much she could barely breathe and I could not calm her down. So I sat in the waiting area of the hairdressers, and breastfed her, and within half a minute she had totally calmed down. She barely fed; she mustn’t have been hungry. She just wanted the comfort of booby. I can’t do that anymore. If she is sad, or scared, I can’t offer her anything different to anybody else.
I never knew it would be so hard to give up breastfeeding. The irony of this is not lost on me as in the early days of pain, tears, sleep deprivation, obsessive Googling and self-loathing, I hated every second of it and couldn’t wait until the six month mark so I could stop. I feel as if a part of me has died and I have lost a connection with Gwenn that I can never ever get back. But, this too shall pass and I’m sure that in a few weeks I will be feeling better.
I’ve been spending a bit (not enough, but every little helps) on my Pinterest boards and learning more about how to use it better. I’m hoping when I start blogging again properly I will be able to use Pinterest alongside the blog, rather than as an afterthought.
I think it’ll be another month easily before I can think about blogging properly because we’re going to have some much to do in the house, but working on the social media side of things makes me feel a bit better.
I thought that Blogging, a full time job? by Aby at You Baby Me Mummy was so interesting for bloggers and non-bloggers alike. I know that I will never ever be able (or willing?) to devote that much time to my blog but Aby’s site is a testament to the hard work she puts in.
“I will never forget the day Archie came back from a trip out with Daddy on a rare Saturday I had to work wearing, ripped joggers, a Pyjama top and Christmas socks … in May. My husband looked genuinely terrified when eyes bulging I asked “Did you see anyone we know?!””
The rest of the posts are just as hilarious; I promise you, it’ll be the funniest thing you’ve read all week!
So, that was me, and my weeks! Hopefully I’ll be back soon.