During pregnancy, anyone and everyone you meet is definitely going to compliment you for that pregnancy glow and that cute pregnancy bump of yours. Fast-forward a couple of months after delivering the child, and it’ll all boil down to, “it’s time to shed the extra weight”.
The weight of the baby , the enlarged breast tissue, the increased blood supply, the fat stores, and enlarged uterus—basically, all the factors that contributed to your weight gain during pregnancy are likely to get back to normal after 6-8 months of delivery.
However, if your weight still remains higher than what it was before you got pregnant, it’s important to get back to your pre-baby body for a variety of reasons:
You’ve got to do it for the sake of your overall health
We don’t need to remind you about how being overweight in life can lead to a plethora of health problems. Well, living with the extra weight post delivery is no different.
During pregnancy, an average woman gains about 9-12 kg of weight. Post delivery, a woman is likely to lose around 3-5 kgs almost immediately,” says Dr. Anita Gupta, senior consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology department, Fortis Lafemme, New Delhi.
“After about 6-8 weeks of recovery time, a woman must resort to a healthier lifestyle in order to lose the remaining weight as not doing so can lead to heart problems, diabetes, and hypertension later in life,” she further explains.
And for your next pregnancy as well
If you plan to have another baby in the future, you’ve got to first lose the extra weight from the current pregnancy according to Dr. Gupta.
“The occurrence of polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) and development of fibroids is more common in obese/overweight women. These can lead to hormonal imbalances in the body and create complications in a woman’s future pregnancy as well,” she warns.
It’s important for your mental health as well: “Given how obsessed our culture is with thinness and dieting, gaining weight for any reason can lead to judgment, ridicule, and other stigmatizing experiences, especially for women,” says Sneha George M., counseling psychologist, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai.
“These weight-stigmatizing experiences significantly predict depression, stress, anxiety, and maladaptive eating behaviours,” she adds.
Not to mention, it can even increase a woman’s dissatisfaction with her body and lead to body-image issues and self-criticism.
So, how exactly should you go about losing the excess weight?
Take your time: If you’ve had a normal delivery, you can start exercising within a few weeks or whenever you feel energetic and ready to bounce back. In case of a C-section delivery, however, it is advisable to consult your doctor before starting your weight-loss journey.
1. Don’t pressurize yourself
Ladies, motherhood is a new phase of life, which might also give you a completely new body, which might not be half as similar to the body you had before giving birth. And that’s absolutely OKAY.
Stretch marks, loose skin, slower results, inability to work out as intensely as you used to could all be a part of your post-delivery fitness journey. But you’ve got to accept the change instead of fighting it or criticising yourself for this natural change.
“Start working towards the acceptance that your body has gone through a lot of changes, and though it may never be the same, you will never be the same either. Instead of focusing on your weight, concentrate on your overall health and fitness, which will be good for your body, mind, and your baby,” George recommends.
2. Stay away from social media if need be
George also points out at the possibility of watching super-fit fellow women on social media adding to the pressure of losing the post-pregnancy weight and making a woman’s mental health worse. Hence, one should unfollow the pages that induce such negative emotions and only follow those that have a positive influence.
3. Give exercise a new meaning
According to George, exercise is good for your mental well-being as it can relieve stress, release happy hormones in the body, and help prevent postnatal depression. Hence, instead of looking at it as a means to lose weight, do it as means to stay happy and sane through the emotionally-and-physically-draining initial months of giving birth.
4. Reach out for help
Do not refrain from seeking support in terms of looking after the baby when you exercise as well as confiding in someone about the challenges and problems you face so as to find a positive influence and motivation to become your fit, healthy self again.
5. Set achievable goals
Ladies, you took nine months to gain all that weight. So, it’s only natural to take a few months to lose it too. Hence, don’t give in to fad diets or overexert yourself with strenuous workouts in a bid to lose weight quickly.
According to Sonali Saxena, senior clinical nutritionist, Fortis Lafemme, New Delhi, while the fad diets can deprive you of some very essential nutrients, which is bad for both you and your baby, physical overexertion can lead to weakness. It might also leave you too exhausted to take care of the new-born baby.
6. Trust the power of a healthy lifestyle to get back in shape
Consuming a nutritionally-rich diet including fresh fruits, green-leafy vegetables, whole grains; eating clean, home-cooked food, and mild exercise can be a great start once you decide to tread on your weight-loss journey.
“Lactating mothers should increase the intake of the fluids such as fresh fruit juices, lassi, milk or milk-based beverages such as fruit shakes. They should not miss out on plain drinking water and should continue to eat a balanced diet to meet the nutritional requirements of lactation,” Saxena suggests.
7. Let your baby help you with the weight loss
“Breastfeeding helps to reduce the weight gained during pregnancy. So, new mothers must breastfeed their babies as much as possible as it is good for the baby’s health as well,” Saxena points out.
In fact, you can dance with your baby or simply take him/her out for a casual stroll in the park in the beginning if you’re not getting enough time for exercise.