Eat the f**cking donuts. If you want to.

The perinatal period, especially postnatal, is a time when the primary focus should be taking care of your body! Nourishing yourself, staying reasonably active (but not overdoing it!) and focusing on health rather than aesthetics is really important. But as you know, I’m a huge advocate of evidence based information and informed, empowered choices for parents, especially when breastfeeding is concerned.

I am also painfully aware that women don’t live in a vacuum! That many of us have so many ties to our physical appearance that it’s not as simple as hearing someone say ‘Don’t worry about your postpartum body! You should love it! You should respect it!’ and whilst those things are true, many of us do have hang ups about how we look after birth, especially if we have gained weight or don’t have the time or energy to slap a face of make up on or our favourite clothes are now stained with poo and vomit.

I hear you. I really struggled with weight gain after I had my son when postnatal depression hit me and one day I ate nine sugared jam donuts! I felt absolutely appalled at myself (and really, there was no reason to, I love donuts, there’s nothing inherently wrong with donuts, but the sugar crash was not worth it after!) It took me nearly 3 years to set foot in a gym after Leo was born.

So, what are the facts?

Being in a calorie deficit is detrimental to the breast milk supply or the quality of breastmilk – FALSE.

You can’t diet or exercise when breastfeeding due to toxins leeching into breastmilk – this isn’t strictly true either.

You have to have a special diet when lactating – FALSE

And lots of women are convinced that they need to ‘bounce back’, that breastfeeding will prevent them from getting back to the gym and that they have to eat a restrictive diet in order to do it properly – all of these are FALSE!

Mothers can and do produce adequate milk in sufficient quantities to support infant growth and development even on very inadequate diets (Lawrence & Lawrence, 2005).

Your breastmilk is ALWAYS perfect for your baby! Your body will prioritise milk production over other functions when necessary – which is why even women in developing countries who don’t have access to abundant calories and nutrients are still able to breastfeed babies well into childhood. The global average age of weaning from the breast is 4.5 years of age – and in some countries, breastmilk is a major food source for these children.

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