As the age-old saying goes, the eyes are the window to the soul. But, really, these days, it’s less the eyes and more the Google search history that is the true tell of a person’s innermost self. This is perhaps never more true than after having a baby, when many women find themselves in the unique and precarious position of catering to a highly needy yet nonverbal creature, processing their own postpartum mental and physical cluster, and being up at all hours of the night in close proximity to the glow of a cracked iPhone just begging to be consulted on all manner of WebMD conundrums. Marching naked down Park Avenue might be less revealing, but in the spirit of mom solidarity, I present my totally-real, borderline embarrassing, recent Google search history.
1. “how many calories breastfeeding burn”
Because I am on my second baby and have stopped caring, I’m just going to say it: While it is billed as liquid gold for babies, for most (or at least many) women, breastfeeding sucks — your time, your freedom, your patience and your breast perkiness. (A friend recently likened her post-breast-feeding boobs to the image of two cracked eggs slowly sliding down a wall. This will never leave me.) But there is one saving grace: The magical calorie-burning powers of breast-feeding! This upside is much-repeated in mom conversations ("Why do you look so good?" "Oh, just breastfeeding!") It’s a fact that your body working to produce breastmilk burns calories — it’s biology's genius way of sustaining babies and helping postpartum moms lose weight naturally. Still, I've worried that reports of breastfeeding’s body benefits may be exaggerated. (I believed the popular mom myth that “it takes six months to cleanse your body of birth control before you should get pregnant. Surprise! Positive pregnancy test two months after quitting the Pill.) I’ve heard that breast-feeding burns anywhere from 300 to 500 calories per day, but given the amount of ravioli I've eaten over the past couple months, I wanted to be precise.
Doctors, including mine, often stick to the 300-to-500-calorie window, citing a variance in how much milk different women produce; especially for women who nurse, it's hard to measure exactly how much you make. Diane L. Spatz, PhD, a professor of perinatal nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and nurse researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, previously narrowed it down for SELF to between 400 and 500 calories a day. Dr. Google led me to one website for mothers who exclusively pump (of whom I was one before I recently called it quits), which gets mathematical, saying that “each ounce of breast milk has 20 calories...so if you pump 20 ounces per day, you are using 400 additional calories to feed your baby. If you are pumping 30 ounces, then 600 calories, and so on.” Take this with a grain of salt, or a droplet of breastmilk.
2. “how many kegels after pregnancy”
Fact: The only thing weaker than my resolve and patience level right now is my pelvic floor. Additional fact: As a friend recently said, “Kegels make me feel icky — like really icky.” Yes, an exercise characterized by clenching the muscles of your vaginal wall — as if you’re holding your pee mid-stream, as it is often said — is peak icky. Kegel exercises are like another chore hanging over your head in the immediate post-baby days. And so I wondered, would three sets of 10 (like the lunges I suffer through at the gym) suffice?
Welp, according to What to Expect, I was undershooting: Three sets of 20 are optimal. But the truly helpful Kegel nugget came from an OB-GYN friend, who notes that Kegel exercises should not be short, quick movements, but held for five seconds each. Icky, but effective.
3. “best vasectomy doctors New York City”
Because two kids is more than enough for me, and must I really remember to take a birth control pill for the rest of my menstrual days?
4. “how much can you drink before pump and dump”
Welcome to another burning struggle of the new mother. You’re no longer pregnant, so — horns and confetti emoji! — you’re finally, after 10 months of fiending for tequila (just me?) liberated to drink more than a glass of wine. Except not really, because if you’re breastfeeding, alcohol seeps into your breastmilk and no mom wants to slip her new son or daughter a watered down lychee martini. So, exactly how many glasses of wine are too many before you should pump and dump said booze-laced breastmilk (a torturous task, to see that liquid gold stream down the drain) rather than risk feeding it to your baby?
Here, a popular Google search result chides, judge-ily (just me again?): “During the four hours after a breastfeeding mother consumes an alcoholic beverage — such as 4 ounces of wine, one mixed drink, or one can of beer — babies who nurse consume about 20 percent less milk.” I didn’t like this response, because it ostensibly shades breastfeeding mothers about drinking anything, and, in my opinion, furthers the aggressively conservative American medical stance on pregnancy and alcohol. And so, I abandoned Google and consulted an actual medical professional.
One of the nurses at my practice told me that when it comes to drinking, my son would feel what I feel. So, if a glass of wine made me feel drunk (which it does not, though it does make me feel happy and a bit more relaxed), it would make my son feel similarly. I concluded that one drink here or there was kosher. When one drink isn't enough for me, I discovered another cure, without consulting Google at all: Make peace with the occasional pump and dump. Sometimes that second lychee martini is just worth it.
5. “magic mike live channing tatum”
There are few things more uplifting at 4:30 a.m., after you’ve been wrenched from sleep by a crying baby, than the reassurance that some day, I could go to Vegas again. And when I do, a male stripper revue awaits.