Secrets of Losing Weight after Pregnancy
Anna is a pregnant mother of three who continues to breastfeed her 18-month-old. After each of her pregnancies, she has had difficulty losing weight. With all of her responsibilities, weight loss isn’t a priority. Still, she wishes that she will be able to return to her pre-pregnancy weight. Sounds familiar?
The average woman gains more than 25 (11kg) pounds during her pregnancy (more if she was underweight or less is she was overweight to start with). The childbirth itself may result in a weight loss of up to 14 pounds (6kg) (baby weight, placenta, amniotic fluid, water retention), which means that new mums still have considerable weight above the pre-pregnancy weight. Some women will simply assume that this “baby fat” is a natural consequence of having babies. Yet, it is entirely possible to lose weight during the postpartum period. Let’s be clear- losing weight post pregnancy should be considered in the realms of being healthy, feeling more energetic and avoiding any diseases to do with obesity, and not just for esthetic reasons and the pressure woman nowadays gain from the society. So let’s not rush into things and let our body adjust to all the changes.
A number of medical experts recommend easing into a weight loss program after the birth of your baby. This means it is not recommended dieting until about three months following birth, and let’s face it, you will be occupied with your ‘new arrival’, and rightly so.
We should not expect instant results, as it can take a good nine months to get back to weight prior to pregnancy, in some cases even more. A go-slow approach is best because you need to give your body time to recover after childbirth and make gradual changes to your lifestyle. Magic diets might promise you to lose weight faster, but you might be sacrificing valuable nutrients.
Interestingly enough, breastfeeding actually enhances weight loss. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has found that breastfeeding leads to the release of hormones which enable your uterus to return to its normal size. However, breastfeeding alone won’t bring down your weight. You need to combine it with a sensible diet and a moderate exercise program. At the end of the day, we will lose ‘fat’ once we burn more calories than we consume. A safe and steady calories daily deficit if of around 500kcal to lose around 0.5kg on a weekly basis. You will need to add around 500kcal back if you are exclusively breastfeeding. You should rely on food with high nutritional value to maintain the proper level of calories each day. A personal trainer, nutritionist, dietitian can help you calculate your safe calories deficit to lose weight gradually and not impact recovery and potential breastfeeding.
There are many good reasons to exercise during the postpartum period (after being cleared by your doctor). In addition to helping to accelerate weight reduction, exercise can help alleviate postpartum depression, improve your mood, and boost your confidence. Exercise can also “clear your head” so that you’re better able to meet the demands of motherhood. Another helpful hint is to enlist the help of a friend or relative to act as your exercise buddy so that you’ll have some emotional support while exercising. An added bonus of exercise is that it should boost your energy level, which is quite important when battling the fatigue which comes from caring for a newborn. Initially, even 10-15min bursts of gentle exercises can help.
Your diet should generally be low-fat but not fat-free; vitamin rich; and high-fiber. Under no circumstances should you go on a fad diet. Such a diet could be quite harmful to your health and could actually slow your recovery from childbirth.
At the end of the day, remember what a miracle you have done and give praise to your body. You will know when it’s the right time to return to fitness (or start it- for your sake and of course your precious baby.
For more advice, join the growing community of fit mums and follow my page. I am planning on diving in many topics there, including sustainable weight loss. And in the New Year, after I welcome my baby, I will be helping committed ladies that want to change the way they live at the moment.
Check my nutrition in pregnancy guide to support healthy weight gain during pregnancy.