The early months of a new baby can be hard work and your body needs time to recover after pregnancy and labour, let alone with the demands of a new baby to care for. All medical advice is that women should not even think about losing weight, until they have had their post natal check at around 6 to 8 weeks, and even then take it slowly and safely.
On average, you will probably have put on around an extra 12 kilos (approximately 27 lbs) in weight. You cannot expect to lose this weight overnight. However, you may be surprised at how quickly you get back into shape by some simple exercise and healthy eating. Having a realistic expectation of slow and gradual weight loss is better than going all out on a crash-dieting plan.
Nine months to gain the weight and nine months to lose it maybe the best way to consider the speed of your weight loss after pregnancy.
The Weight of Pregnancy
Throughout pregnancy, your body goes through major changes as your baby grows.
By the time you get to delivery, your baby will probably weigh around 7-8 lbs. In addition, the amniotic fluid – that protected your baby within the womb will weigh just under a kilo or around 1.5lbs, the placenta – your babies’ nourishment supply will weigh on average around 0.7 of a kilo or 1.5 lbs.
After you given birth, you will lose this weight instantly, but this is usually less than a third of the total weight you gained during pregnancy.
Your breasts will be larger and weigh more, your blood volume will have increased adding extra weight, the muscles of the uterus will have developed weighing around 2lbs and your body will have stored extra fat for breast-feeding – in many cases around 8lbs. All these vital and natural functions make up a large proportion of baby weight and putting on weight during pregnancy is totally natural and necessary. It is the way we are built.
However, on top of this, you may have gained extra weight on top of this throughout pregnancy. Some people still believe in “eating for two” and if you were overweight to start with and have found it difficult to exercise, you may have added drastically to your weight during this time.
Although most women realise that maintaining a healthy diet and exercise plan throughout pregnancy is important, your hormones and energy levels may have prevented you from feeling on peak form. Everyone is different. Some women glow through pregnancy and feel fantastic and full of energy. Sadly, this is not the case for everyone.
There are no official figures for a normal weight gain throughout pregnancy but general medical advice is to allow for an extra 10- 12kg (27lbs). After pregnancy, you can calculate your weight and body mass index to assess the damage!
Breast Feeding for Weight Loss
Following pregnancy, you may have the urge to “get your body back” however breast-feeding may help you get back to normal much faster than bottle feeding. There is also a growing body of evidence that breast-feeding may help you prevent against future weight gain.
Breast feeding helps your body get back in shape. Your body will have stored extra fat reserves for this purpose and breast-feeding your baby will use up around 500 calories per day. According to the US Dept of Health, you should be eating around 1800 calories a day in order to support health through this time.
Breast-feeding has added benefits for postnatal recovery. It releases a hormone called Oxytocin that helps your uterus reduce to its normal size following childbirth. Oxytocin is a hormone that is closely linked to feelings of love and contentment so enhanced Oxytocin levels caused by breast-feeding will help you bond with your baby. Even if you cannot maintain breast feeding for the recommended 6 months, any breast feeding is preferable than none. It can be difficult at first, but it is worth persevering with.
Breast is Best for Health and Weight Loss
Breast feeding has numerous health benefits to you and your baby. For you, it reduces the future risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. For your baby it helps to build immunity to disease and promotes future health.
Breast fed babies are less likely to suffer from exezma, minor ailments and future obesity and it is the best way of feeding a baby according to the NHS, and vastly superior to bottled formula. In the early days especially, breast milk contains Colostrum which is packed full of healthy antibodies, simply not included in infant formula.
There are common myths around breast-feeding. Contrary to popular belief, breast-feeding does not make you fat or your breasts sag. Your breasts will be larger but once you stop feeding, they should return to normal size.
Despite breast-feeding sometimes being seen as unfashionable, according to the NHS, it is popular in the UK with over 75% of women trying it. In the USA according to figures, last published in 2004 – over 66% women breast-fed for some time.
It is not advisable to diet if you are breastfeeding, and certainly not to take medication and diet supplements. All medical advice is to keep to a healthy diet and keep your junk food and processed food intake to a minimum. Of course, everything you eat and drink will be passed onto your baby, so it is essential to eat well for both of you, and not to assume that burning off an extra 500 calories, gives you license to over eat.
To Diet or Not to Diet
Many health professionals urge that you forget about going on a strict diet to lose your baby weight. Instead following a healthy diet is the preferred option for weight and health. Make sure you get plenty of fruit and vegetables and fibre especially is important – healthy bowel movements will help with some of the common side effects of pregnancy such as haemorrhoids.
Avoid excessive cakes and pastries and if you are around the house a lot, make sure you have some healthy snacks stocked in. It is all too easy otherwise to eat fattening snacks as part of your new routine.
It can be hard to cope with life as a new mother because of the huge changes to life that a baby brings. You do not need to make it any harder by imposing a mad slimming regime on yourself and entering a period of self-denial. Just eat sensibly, follow a healthy eating plan, and be patient. You will soon lose that weight. If you want to speed things along a little, once you have finished breast feeding, a natural diet supplement that contains high levels of antioxidants may help increase your progress.
Drink Plenty of Water
Looking after a small baby is tiring and it is very easy to become dehydrated with all that running around. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding fattening fizzy drinks and sodas will help you keep the pounds off and keep you feeling fit and well.
Your urine should be the colour of pale straw. If you are breast feeding you will probably find it makes you thirsty so make sure that you always sit down with a glass of water at nursing time. Drinking water helps to fill you up and reduces your appetite for food.
Exercise is very important and getting time away from the baby can be a good way to recharge your batteries and build up your fitness. Aerobics, swimming or exercises classes are good and if you like going to the gym, building up some sort of resistance strength will not only help you lose weight but build up your fitness levels too.
Some exercise clubs have a mother and baby facility so that you do not need to leave your baby, and these have the advantage of being excellent places for making friends. You may have been recently working in a full time job and it is easy to feel isolated at home with a new baby. The good news is that many other women feel exactly the same so attending exercise groups that cater to mothers of young babies is a great way of making local friends.
You do not have to attend classes to keep fit. Walking with the pushchair or pram is a great way of getting fit. Most women report doing more walking at this time in their lives, than any other period. Walking with the baby ensures that you both get some fresh air and you get some exercise and some peace as well.
Meeting with friends and walking with the strollers is an excellent way of doing some exercise and having a pleasant sociable time.
Fitting in exercise around your baby’s routine is a good way of keeping fit. Skipping or similar, that you can do in the odd 10 minutes when you have time, is a good way of building your energy levels and burning off calories.
Lose your Baby Weight Before you do it Again
If you are considering having another baby within a short time, it is essential that you lose your baby weight, before becoming pregnant again. Your body needs time to get back into shape, before you go through it all again.
It should be easy enough to lose your baby weight, but losing weight following two or more pregnancies will not be as easy to shift.
Remember if you are breast-feeding, you will probably not be having your periods. Breast-feeding prevents conception, up to a point and although is not a sure fire method of contraception, it does have an effect upon ability to conceive.
Don’t Worry – Be Happy!
An important thing to remember is that your baby will not stay a baby for very long, although it does not always feel like it at the time. Life is too short for making you miserable by trying to achieve an impossibly low weight in too short a period of time. If you feel you need a diet supplement, try an antioxidant rich natural product that will help you keep up your energy levels naturally and help you burn off fat.
However the important thing is to take your weight loss slowly and concentrate on eating healthily rather than starving yourself with an aggressive weight loss plan. That way you will find that you will soon fit back into your jeans without any hassle and be much happier into the bargain.