Meet Bekah B., a mama that we connected with through Instagram. She reached out to tell us about her successful #BreastfeedingWhole30, so we thought we’d try something new and share her #MyHealthyHappyPostpartum story in her own words. Do you have a Healthy, Happy Pregnancy story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Bekah’s Words: Pregnancy and Postpartum
Pregnancy has never been easy for my husband and I. We had a miscarriage in 2012, and then a difficult pregnancy with our son… we lost his twin around 14 weeks. After losing his twin, I had insanely high hormone levels my entire pregnancy. I gained 80 pounds, couldn’t breastfeed and fell into severe postpartum depression. I was out of control.
After struggling for two years postpartum, I did two rounds of Whole30 to try to regain control of my hormones, my body, and really, my life. I got pregnant with Nora, my daughter, immediately. This time around, my pregnancy was still difficult, but easier than with my son. After delivering, breastfeeding was a breeze compared. Nora and I didn’t experience the same supply and latch issues I experienced with my son.
However, my nursing diet consisted of entire rows of Oreos and Pop-tarts. I developed the appetite of a lumberjack and GAINED 17 pounds by three months postpartum. I’ve always struggled with overeating. I grew up with brothers, and there’s no shame in clean plates and second helpings with my family. While pregnant, this was expected, and when breastfeeding, my large appetite seemingly tripled. It felt like I was constantly hunting for food. I was hungry, miserable, and suffering from oversupply and engorgement. I knew I needed to do Whole30, but was terrified it would zap my supply and I so badly wanted breastfeeding to work.
I started a #BreastfeedingWhole30 when my daughter was four months old. My favorite non-scale victory was my milk supply while breastfeeding. My engorgement was completely alleviated while doing Whole30, my oversupply problem quickly disappeared, and my milk became so much better. Before Whole30, my daughter struggled to gain weight (she was in the 15th percentile) and spit up so much. I returned to work after six weeks, and while pumping, I noticed my milk was watery and light. Having never breastfed before, I just assumed that was natural. When I saw a friend’s milk, I knew mine was different.
While doing Whole30, my milk supply dropped to normal levels, it was creamier (the picture perfect cream-rising-to-the-top type of milk), my daughter gained weight and hopped up to the 50% for weight, spit-up less and slept through the night. She also nursed for shorter amounts of time. As a working mom, that was huge to not feel like every spare moment was spent nursing. I know many of these developments are because she was approaching four months, but I know—without a doubt—Whole30 benefited me and my daughter.
During my #BreastfeedingWhole30, I was able to regulate my hunger by fueling my body correctly, rather than just eating whatever I could find. I know Whole30 helped me recover quicker than my last postpartum period. Eating the quality, nutrient-dense foods helped me sleep better, improved my energy, and made me feel like myself again by four months postpartum, when it took almost two years to feel this way after my first pregnancy.
My Food Freedom
A Whole30 lifestyle to me means embracing what matters—health and substance. I blame so many of my non-Whole30 food choices on being busy and stressed, when in all reality, none of those “convenient” foods help. I rolled my eyes when I read that Whole30 creates more “meaningful time in the kitchen.” As a working mom, I thought there is no way to have meaningful time in the kitchen; all time in the kitchen detracts from my kids and relaxation, right?
Two weeks into my Whole30, however, I realized it WAS meaningful time in the kitchen. My son helped “stir” (read: mix air in an empty bowl) our dinners, each food choice was feeding my baby whole, healthy foods, and each minute spent there instead of on the couch eating a granola bar got me one step closer to my post-pregnancy goals. It was work—and I did run the dishwasher more in a month than I had the previous three combined—but I was in control finally, so in that way I did find my Food Freedom.
Advice for Other Mamas
A few things that helped me with my breastfeeding Whole30 experience were eating three meals with lots of fat and drinking lots of water. Whenever I worried about the lack of carbs for my supply, I made sure to have a white potato at least every other day, if not every day.
I planned three light snacks between meals, but made sure they all had fats.* These snacks with good fats kept me full until my meal, unlike my previous go-to snacks of Oreos and Pop-Tarts. Water not only helped my supply, but it kept hunger at bay.
I’d also really recommend you have your partner do this with you. My husband was such a huge support. It’s easy to feel like, as moms, we’re shouldering so much of the responsibility for our babies these first few months, especially while nursing. Don’t feel like you have to do this on your own, too. Dive in with your partner, cook meals together, sit down and enjoy a meal as a family, and be proud of your commitment to health for you and your family.
*Editorial note: This is why we recommend that you try to eat four full template meals during your #BreastfeedingWhole30! You just need more food to stay fueled throughout the day. Click here for our best tips for a successful #BreastfeedingWhole30.
We are continuing to work on creating more breastfeeding and postpartum resources for you, so connect with us on Instagram (@Whole30HMHB) and let us know what you’d like to learn about!