Women gain weight during pregnancy, this is normal. It is also normal for women to wonder when and how they can start losing the weight once they have given birth. Of course, pregnancy and birth are beautiful and natural processes, but most of us want to go back to the way we looked before.
Unfortunately, celebrities and the media make it seem easy and to be honest the results are often extreme and unrealistic. This leads women worldwide to believe they can get back on the elliptical machine days after giving birth.
In reality, a lot of the weight you gain throughout pregnancy are things that your body will naturally lose within the first month after giving birth such as a growing baby (surprise, surprise!), amniotic fluid and water retention. Within the first month you can lose up to 8 kg without even lifting a finger. This does not mean that there isn’t more weight to shed, as many women (with an average weight before pregnancy) put on between 11 and 15 kg during the process.
Oh, and keep in mind that your uterus had to expand while holding your fetus and this can take up to six weeks to shrink back to its normal size. So even though you may have shed some kilograms at birth, your belly will probably continue being swollen for a while.
First things first – talk to your GP. Make sure that your doctor talks you through the correct process of losing the baby weight. It’s also crucial to remember that you’re not just feeding yourself, but your baby as well. Your milk needs nutrients and proteins to help your baby grow naturally, so don’t go for strict diets or extreme methods because you will also be restricting your baby’s diet.
Breastfeeding helps you burn approximately 500 calories, and it is a proven method to getting rid of those extra pounds, as well as all the added benefits for your baby. On average, women will be back to their pre-pregnancy bodies when the baby is 6 months old, but don’t forget that everyone loses weight at their own pace and rhythm.
Dinner for two
Remember that you are eating for two, but that is no excuse to be piling up on sugary goods or serving yourself extra portions. It’s about knowing how to eat a healthy meal that will benefit your weight loss and benefit your baby’s development.
Eat a hefty but healthy breakfast, drink lots of water, eat fiber-rich foods (oats, lentils, seeds), add starchy foods such as bread, pasta and rice to your day to day diet, stay clear of sugary foods and keep your portion sizes small. It is important to eat every four hours or so, but not a whole meal each time. Breakfast and lunch can be big, but the others should be small snacks (peanuts, dried fruits, seeds, vegetables) just to keep your metabolism moving.
It is highly recommended that you first give yourself a few weeks to adjust to having a newborn at home and to learn how to handle your schedule. Having a baby around is no easy task and adding exercise to your already full-time, busy schedule can seem almost impossible. However, you can start by incorporating walks (which your baby can participate in!) and stretching in the first couple of weeks. Wait at least six weeks until you start doing major exercises. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing such as jogging, yoga, swimming or cycling.
It is not a bad idea to invest in a baby carrier for slightly more intense walks or light jogs through the park. And don’t forget to stop by and meet other mums who can help you on your mission to gain back your pre-pregnancy body and offer you advice on the first few months of motherhood.