Ah, your bundle of joy is now home. After nine months of anticipation, you hold her in your arms and the love you feel at that moment can’t be described in words. A lot has changed in your life – not without notice, but it has. Take one step at a time and you won’t be overwhelmed. Right now, all you have to do is focus on your baby and yourself and lean on people for support.
In the nine months, you may have gained weight to keep your baby healthy in the womb. A woman with normal BMI gains between 11.5 and 12 kgs during pregnancy and this weight gain during pregnancy consists the growing foetus, placenta, breast tissue, amniotic fluid, uterus and extra fat stores. After giving birth, don’t rush yourself to lose the baby weight. Remember that this weight loss needs to be gradual and you need to stay healthy – for yourself and your baby. Essentially, women can start a set of easy exercises after the postpartum period of 40 days.
However, first you need to know more about the baby weight you have gained and how to lose it post pregnancy in a healthy way. Read this article on post pregnancy weight loss and you’ll get all the tips you need to get started.
Why Do You Need To Take It Slow?
Seema Sondhi, a yoga expert and author, stresses on the fact that weight loss after giving birth should be a slow and steady process, one that should not be hurried. She says that a body takes nine months to change and grow, and will require a minimum of 9-12 months and sometimes more, to gain back its lost strength.
The postpartum period after giving birth is a very crucial time for mothers to gain their strength back as the body has been through a tremendous journey, both physically and emotionally. The body requires time to heal. This 40-day period after giving birth is the time when a mother should eat well and rest in abundance to get back to her old self. Losing too much weight too soon will result in long-term deficiencies and may lead to several health problems later.
Breastfeeding & Weight Loss
When you exclusively breastfeed your baby, you need to eat extra 300 calories a day to get proper nutrition for yourself and the baby. Hence, it is not advisable to diet when you are breastfeeding. However, studies have shown exclusive breastfeeding helps you lose weight by at least 500 calories a day. That said, it is also essential to maintain a healthy weight if you plan to conceive again.
Dieting While Breastfeeding
When you plan to exclusively nurse your child, dieting is not the best idea. Since you would be feeding two people, eating nutritious food is an absolute essential. Dieting while nursing can affect your milk production and supply, and the milk may not be as nutritious. Avoid taking weight-loss pills as they may harm your child’s growth.
Dr Rinku Sengupta, Senior Consultant (Gynaecology department) at Sitaram Bhartiya Hospital, states that while one needs to take care of what they eat and make sure they are eating a high-nutrient diet, it is also essential to not overeat or eat food high in fat content.
She suggests that new mothers need to have a calcium- and protein-rich diet and make sure that they have a lots of fluids through the day. Yoga guru, Seema Sondhi, too, talks about the importance of eating right after giving birth. She adds that she has seen a rising trend where new mums, who are eager to lose the extra weight, do not eat right and start exercising too soon. This is a very dangerous thing to do because you need your strength more than a toned body.
When Can You Start Losing Weight?
Women can start exercising after the postpartum period. According to Dr Sengupta, a woman who has had an uncomplicated, normal delivery can start light exercises such as brisk walking or aerobics after three-four weeks of giving birth. While a woman who has had an uncomplicated c-section delivery can start light exercises once the doctor has given a go-ahead after the postpartum check up as the healing process takes a bit longer. However, you need to carefully determine how much you can yourself in order to lose weight. Your body will give you enough signals to tell you when and how much exercise you can take.
Why Is Losing Weight Post Pregnancy Important?
Losing extra weight is important if you want to have another child. Carrying extra weight can be dangerous for your second pregnancy. It can complicate the labour by making it longer and harder to push out the baby or result in having an emergency c-section.
Other complications that come with being overweight include high blood pressure and preeclampsia (organ damage due to high blood pressure). It can also cause gestational diabetes, which is not good for both the mother and the baby.
Remember That You Need Support
If you wish to lose weight the right way, get your husband or family members to step in and lend a hand in taking care of the baby. Dr Sengupta feels that a support system is crucial for a mother of a newborn baby in order for her to recuperate.
She says that a new mother needs time for herself to rest. The stress of taking care of a newborn can make it impossible for a new mom to lose those extra kilos if she doesn’t have support from her partner or other members of the family. It has been found in many studies that most new mothers who are unable return to their pre-pregnancy weight after nine-12 months of giving birth suffer from high blood pressure and are at a greater risk of developing diabetes or heart disease at later stages of life.
Dos & Don’ts of Losing Weight
As mentioned earlier, stay clear of any kind of diets as they will only interfere with your recovery and the health of your growing baby.
Start Exercising Regularly
According to Dr Sengupta, a new mother can start light exercises after six weeks. Brisk walking is a great way to start your weight-loss journey. A healthy diet is essential to make sure you get the right nutrients to maintain your energy levels. A 30-40 minute regular exercise regime will help you lose fat instead of muscle.
Once your child starts eating solid food, your frequency of nursing will be reduced and you can start to eat a little less and exercise a little more every day. Keep in mind that whatever you do, do not push yourself too hard. A walk in the park with your baby in the stroller can be a great workout for those tired muscles.
Do Not Skip Meals
The demands of taking care of a newborn are tremendous and they do tend to take a toll on a new mom who also needs to take care of herself. If you are breastfeeding, skipping meals is not a good idea. It will result in low energy, poor health and won’t help you lose weight. Eating five to six regular meals instead of three big meals along with healthy snacks will keep you feeling full during the day and help the metabolism.
Eat A Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. It gives a boost of energy to tend to your baby’s needs.
Take Your Time To Eat
Sometimes, you will feel like getting over with the meal as soon as possible since there is a baby to tend to. But if you have someone to help you, hand over the baby and take your time eating. If you focus on your meal, you won’t feel the need to overeat.
Mind What You Eat
Choose snacks that are high in fibre content. Raw bell peppers, fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, peanut butter and eggs are great for snacking. Choose high-nutrient foods rich in iron, protein and calcium. Avoid fried food entirely.
Retaining fluids is essential when you’re breastfeeding a baby. Have at least 10-12 glasses of water a day as it helps with the quality of milk produced. Also, keep a water bottle near you at all times so that you can remember to drink it frequently. Stay away from aerated drinks.
Avoid Added Sugar
If you want to lose weight, stay clear from saturated fats and artificial sweeteners. Keep you sugar intake to the minimum.
Get Proper Sleep
Unfortunately, getting uninterrupted sleep gets difficult when you have a newborn, so give shifts to your husband, partner or a family member who can tend to the baby while you catch up on your sleep. A good night’s sleep does a lot of good to your weight-loss process. You will have more energy and will be more active during the day when you are well-rested.
Be Patient & Stick To A Routine
It took a long time for your body to gain the weight and will take similar amount of time (or more) to lose it. However, we would reiterate the fact that each body is different and how soon you lose weight depends on factors such as your weight when you conceived, your weight while you were pregnant, and your activity levels after pregnancy. So, be patient. The key is to regain your lost strength. Make sure you follow an easy but regular exercise regime. Don’t give up; the results will come – they may, however, take some time to show on the body.
Why You May Not Be Losing Weight?
- Not Getting Enough Sleep
Are you clocking in enough hours of sleep? If you are not getting at least six hours of decent sleep in a day, you won’t have the energy to take care of the baby or yourself. Saying that, we realise that taking care of a newborn is a 24×7 job, where sleep (especially for a new mother) is hard to get. So, hand over your baby to a trusted care-taker and go sleep, so you have the energy to be active and find time to exercise.
- Eating Too Much
Gynaecologists advise women who have delivered via c-section to avoid oily food as it may hamper with the healing process. Keep a check on what you are eating and how much you are eating. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, once the baby starts to eat solids, gradually try to portion control your food intake.
Nine Months On, Nine Months Off
Once you conceive, your body works round the clock for the next nine months to create a safe haven for your baby and this requires a lot of physical, psychological and physiological changes. These are further aggravated by the demands of taking care of a newborn. Hence, the postpartum time is crucial for a mother to eat, rest and get back to health.
It is very important to understand that the changes that your body endures will not go away immediately. It requires at least nine months to recover completely and start to feel a little like your old self.
Remember all bodies are different and so is their weight-loss journey. Some women lose the baby weight immediately after childbirth, while others carry it for a while longer. Plus, the weight loss journey of a working mother is different from that of a stay-at-home mom. So, have realistic goals and ensure that your weight loss happens in the correct way.
Images – Shutterstock, Instagram
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