I was originally planning to write this post once I’d got back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not quite there yet – still a couple of pounds off what I would call my ‘happy’ weight – although I don’t think things are going to be just as they were before! However I came across a ‘news’ article online the other day celebrating someone for losing their baby weight within a matter of days and it made me really quite cross. So after stewing about this article for a few days I’ve calmed down and decided to do something positive and share my own tips for losing weight healthily.
Before I share how I lost my baby weight, I just want to explain why this article made me so cross – I refuse to share the original article as it annoyed me so much! Firstly fast weight-loss is never a good thing in my opinion (click here for my previous blog post on this) what’s more, encouraging fast weight-loss following birth is just irresponsible. You need rest to get over the birth and good nutrition around this time is an important part of recovering. It’s especially important to eat well if you are breastfeeding to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients for both yourself and your baby. If like me you ended up having a caesarean section, you need to eat well to recover from that too – some people forget it’s major surgery and your body needs to get enough nutrients to heal properly.
Following some kind of hardcore exercise regime or strict diet right after giving birth could lead to fatigue and nutritional deficiencies at a time that is already difficult both physically and emotionally. There’s enough to think about with adjusting to the changes in your life without trying to get back into your jeans straightaway! (I was still in my maternity jeans for a good couple of months after Genevieve was born!) Your hormones and emotions can be all over the place and not surprisingly considering the changes to your body and your life – the last thing we need to throw in there is a picture of a super skinny new mum who has supposedly got her pre-pregnancy body back a week after birth! Which brings me on to the last thing that really annoyed me about this article – photos can be so deceptive. Even if they haven’t been Photoshopped to death, the right lighting and angles can make a huge difference, not to mention the right clothing and the poses of the model. I’m very sceptical about so-called ‘before and after’ photos that are used to advertise miracle cures for weight problems, but even with my cynicism I may have felt bad if I’d seen the pictures in this article soon after giving birth – it’s quite a vulnerable time for your emotional health.
So here I am still carrying a few pounds more than ‘normal’ and my baby is just over seven months old – weight-loss is a marathon not a sprint; it’s all about what you do in the long-term. This is what helped me lose my baby weight – which by the way was well over three and a half stone (I didn’t weigh myself in the final weeks so not sure exactly how much I had gained in the end!).
Ok I’m not going to go on about the benefits or say you have to do this or you’re a bad mother etc etc. This is just one of the biggest things that helped me lose my weight. After all, a lot of the weight you gain during pregnancy is laid down in order to help with breastfeeding. It takes around 500kcal per day to breastfeed your child which is the equivalent of what an average woman might burn in a serious workout. However it’s important to note that breastfeeding only helps you lose weight if you are using more energy than you take in from food. So if you aren’t losing weight while you breastfeed (and you want to lose weight) then it’s time to look at what you’re telling yourself about how much you can eat and rethink your portions etc. This leads me nicely on to my next point.
Return to eating normally (more or less)
This requires you to be completely honest with yourself about habits you might have picked up when you were ‘eating for two’ – those extra few potatoes at dinner or the treats that became an everyday occurrence. This can be especially hard when you’re tired and ‘normal’ seems like a lifetime ago. For me, going back to eating normally meant being mindful about what I was putting on my plate and trying to listen to my body to only eat if I was really hungry rather than just out of tiredness. Of course if you’re breastfeeding you will probably feel hungrier than before you became pregnant and it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients especially calcium and iron. However it’s important to check you’re not giving yourself permission to eat everything – it’s easily done; I’ve had to get myself back on track quite a few times already!
Again this isn’t something you absolutely have to do in order to lose the weight, but something I am sure has helped me. I rarely use the pram as I find it suits me more to carry Genevieve in a sling and it must’ve helped build the strength in my back as I find it just as comfortable to carry her now as when she was smaller. She now weighs well over a stone making walking a little more intensive and therefore burning more energy than normal. Babywearing also helps with all sorts of other things like calming baby and letting you get on with other things if baby wants to sleep on you…. However if it’s just not your thing, you can still look at ways of gradually building up your activity levels. Try walking a little bit faster than normal when you’re going for a walk or search for exercise routines online that you can do at home. There are fantastic classes that you can go to that allow you to bring your baby and maybe even include your baby in the exercises – I know my local NCT group go for regular walks and a local gym has classes called MummyFit – try searching for what’s near you.
Get out and about as soon as you can
When you’re at home all day with a baby it can be so easy to just keep popping into the kitchen to pick at whatever you find. I’ve found it more tiring to be at home all day with my baby as she often gets bored of me and more likely to be irritable – then I’m even more likely to pick at food! So I’ve been going to various groups including my own weight management groups, to get out of the house for a change of scenery. It’s good for your own sanity as well as helping open up opportunities for baby’s development – Genevieve loves the different toys she gets to play with at the groups. It’s also good for building a support network of people who are going through the same thing as you, which is good for your emotional health and therefore good for helping you avoid comfort eating.
If you’re struggling with shifting that baby-weight, why not check out my Weight-loss For Mummies groups at Baby Bird Cafe in Oswestry? Your first session is FREE – Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm – the groups are child-friendly which means no need to find a babysitter as you can bring your little ones along. No more diets, no pills/products, just normal healthy eating including the food you love! Get in touch if you have any questions (click here to message me)
(Edited 5/6/16 to change name/day/time of groups)