my hunger diaries: adventures in postpartum eating

June 5, 2012

sure, there were moments during pregnancy when i got pretty hungry — during the first trimester, in particular.  i’d eat a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast [random craving for me], and then i’d want another one just an hour or so later.  i wanted meat, cheese, and lots of salty carbs. mealtimes took on a sense of urgency that they had never had before.

but as i grew, my appetite shrank.  i’m not sure whether it was mostly mechanical in nature [ie, very little stomach space] or a hormonal effect on the desire/drive to eat, but by the middle of the 3rd tri my weight gain had really slowed.  i have to admit that it was probably the first time in my life [well, since childhood!] that i’d ever routinely indulged in haagen dagz and the like with absolutely no guilt or trepidations whatsoever. <– and yeah — that part was sort of fun 🙂  i knew that annabel needed the extra calories, and even with these nightly ‘supplements’, i ended up a couple of lbs. down in the last month of pregnancy.

body image + the bump
the relationship that any woman has with her body during and after pregnancy is complicated — and to be honest, for me, i think this is especially true.  by lessening my exercise and ramping up eating, i purposefully gained 7 lbs or so prior to getting pregnant because i believed it would help me conceive, and from this juncture i truly do think it helped.  i’d love to say that i was comfortable in my own skin at my own personal ‘fertile weight’ and that i enjoyed the process of getting there, but . . . well, that’s just not true.

when my bump became obvious and i finally got that there was SOMEONE inside me — a real person, our daughter!! — i started to appreciate my new [and continually shifting!] shape.  i ate very intuitively throughout pregnancy other than adding some extra treats in to try to prevent weight loss at the end, as i mentioned above.

and after . . .
after she was born, everything changed.  i found that the pregnancy weight basically took just days to come off [perhaps i could have been even more aggressive with the ice cream regimen in those later days].  but thankfully, annabel was healthy and my milk supply seemed reasonable.

fast forward two months, and i’m back into many of my pre-preg clothes [well, the bottoms, anyway].  my proportions have shifted somewhat, but seem to be slowly going back to the old normal.  however, i am finding that at this point it’s actually become hard for me to get enough food in the day.  i’m eating 5-6 times/day, including good-sized meals and snacks [see below], and even so i’m finding that my go-to jeans pre-pregnancy are fitting more loosely than they used to.

the hard part to admit is that this means it would be incredibly easy to lose more weight right now — and sometimes it’s tempting.  but the rational and less vain part of me knows that this is not a good idea for either my milk supply or my future fertility, and i feel a bit guilty and selfish even having those thoughts.  i actually put a calorie/nutrition-tracking app on my iPhone last week to see if it would help me by reinforcing the amounts that i needed, and because i was curious as to how much i was actually taking in.  this experiment failed miserably, because:

a) i ended up taking in more than was recommended, even when i added in 500 extra ‘exercise’ calories for breastfeeding.  [keep in mind that i am only 5’1″].  this made me feel like i was doing something wrong when in fact i was just listening to my body, which surely is more evolved than an iPhone app

b) i found it really annoying to measure things out and couldn’t stand trying to estimate a million different things — especially when eating something i cooked or eating out

so, it’s back to intuitive eating with some extra treats added in for good measure.  i am going to really try to maintain at my current size, even if i don’t always love it.  and if i find myself really having trouble, i will head back to the RD for a couple of visits [i went when i was TTC and it was helpful].

so with all that said, here’s what a day in the life of a breastfeeding and running mom looks like — in food. 
from start to finish:
6a breakfast — either the old standard [waffles with sunflower or peanut butter + fruit] . . .
or oatmeal [helps with supply] with raisins and god-only-knows-how-much peanut butter.
9a snack:  plain yogurt + granola.  i eat this every day, without fail.  the granola is also oat-based — another positive for milk production.  
i buy a local brand [little red wagon, based in chapel hill] and the ingredients are fantastic!
12:30p lunch.  this microwaved wrap is actually atypical — usually i eat leftovers [and on the weekends, we often go out and get something more indulgent/fun].  but i hadn’t cooked in a couple of days, so insta-falafel it was.  these wraps are fairly substantial in size compared to other frozen foods [this one was 430 kcal].  
3:30p snack #2.  laughing cow cheese / crackers / fruit.  
7p dinner.  often we actually eat much later, but last night i couldn’t wait for josh and just went for it on my own.  i made chicken tettrazini from clean eating — basically chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes on top of whole wheat pasta tossed in a yogurt-milk-based sauce.  sadly, it was kind of boring and i probably wouldn’t make it again.  
8:30p dessert.  i ate this ice cream sandwich while rocking annabel back to sleep after the 3rd [or so] attempt to put her down.  
i ran 3.5 miles yesterday [easy pace] and despite all this still woke up SUPER hungry this morning.   jen wrote a similar post recently, and like her i find myself surprised that i need to eat this much, but remain convinced that yeah — i really do.  
[can’t believe a. is still asleep!!  i was going to shred but perhaps in the spirit of this post i’ll just sit back and take a rest day.  and eat something, because i’m already hungry.]


  • Reply Lauren March 10, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I have very similar issues! I got down to a fairly shockingly low weight a few weeks after Elise was born and have really had to make an effort to eat enough. I know, not a bad problem to have– but I really had a hard time getting enough calories with "healthy" foods, so for better or worse have added way more indulgences than I’d generally eat. Giant order of nachos for dinner? Ok. Once a week? Sure. Dessert every night? Yes, please. I tried to track calories for a few days and it was near 3000-3500! I sometimes feel guilty for not making more consistently healthy choices– high metabolism doesn’t counteract too much saturated fat, sugar, etc. But for now its probably ok… Milk supply is good and E is healthy. So is recommend just enjoy the crazy metabolism and know you’re taking food care of sweet A 🙂

  • Reply Liz @ runbakerace March 10, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I am the opposite. While I am exclusively breastfeeding, I am having absolutely no weight loss. I lost 22 lbs in the 1st week after baby and remain stuck right there. I can workout & eat right and weigh the same as if I gorged and sat around all day. It’s frustrating and I think I might be one of those unlucky ones that keeps the weight on till the breastfeeding is over. 🙁

  • Reply Linda March 10, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    I breastfed my daughter for an entire year, and was a fulltime working Mom. I went back to work when my daughter was 3 months old which meant I had to pump too. I had the same issues and got down to a weight that was the lowest I can remember. I think maybe it was highschool when I weighed that amount. I never had a supply issue. I just did my best to eat enough so I felt good and had the energy to breast feed, work, take care of my baby, exercise, etc. As you know, it is a lot. 2 months after stopping breastfeeding I became pregnant again, and the interesting part was even through the horrible nausea of the first trimester I had to eat a lot. It was as if my body needed to get that extra weight back to support this pregnancy. Now halfway through my second trimester, I am eating normal again and everything has levelled off. Good luck with everything!

  • Reply Brittnie March 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Our pediatrician told us that a woman needs an extra 700 calories a day to support a day of breastfeeding. She also said a day of breast feeding is like running 5 – ish or so miles, if you want to think of it in comparison to exercise. Crazy, right?? No wonder I am hungry ALL the time. 🙂

  • Reply paper wr—ñt—& March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    In these situations its better to stay away from the bad food which can damage the girls look. Without the great food and quality things the people are not able to learn anything in these positions. They should work hard to make their position clear.

  • Reply Angie March 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    I’m six months pregnant and it’s odd watching all the changes happening to my body when I’m so used to being in control. I appreciate hearing about all these changes and what comes with breast feeding, which I plan to do too.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      it’s a crazy feeling isn’t it!? you all the sudden feel like your lunch matters to someone else other than YOU! good luck with your pregnancy!!

  • Reply Jen March 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Isn’t it crazy?! I’m back at my happy (albeit non-fertile) weight and eating as much as I can so I don’t lose any more! I think some women just burn way more calories breast-feeding than others do!

  • Reply Jenny March 10, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I don’t think you’re eating all that much, especially for someone breastfeeding and physically active! Part of the tradeoff for a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period is that your body really isn’t your own during these periods. Acceptance of that makes the whole out-of-shape deal easier to handle. Of course, the other option is to decide to be done with having babies, which is what I’ve decided! It was so freeing once I stopped breastfeeding and knew I wouldn’t have any more babies!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      ha except i want 1 or 2 more! it’s going to be a while before this body is ‘mine’ again. but it will be worth it 🙂

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