HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT, AFTER PREGNANCY
Lose weight slowly and steadily. After pregnancy, your body takes time to recover. It’s common for women to put on anything from 15-50 lbs during pregnancy but allow yourself 6 weeks after giving birth before embarking on a weight loss programme.
If you’re breastfeeding, medical advice recommends that you wait at least 2 months before trying to lose weight. Breastfeeding puts a high calorific demand on your body so you need to take care not to restrict your diet. Although you may be dying to get back into shape, it’s best to do things slowly and gradually.
Light to moderate, regular exercise can help you lose weight, but don’t overdo it, or you’ll experience setbacks. A hormone called relaxin is released during pregnancy softening your muscles and ligaments in preparation for birth. This leaves you more vulnerable to injury and these effects can last for months after childbirth. Abdominal muscles that have been weakened during pregnancy and giving birth take time to heal and you may be experiencing exhaustion in the first year after childbirth, so be kind to yourself. Exercises you can do early on include:
• pelvic floor exercises,
• gentle stomach clenching exercises,
• walking (take baby with you in a pram or sling!).
When you’re recovered from pregnancy and childbirth, to burn calories through exercise you’ll need to raise your heart rate for 20-30 minutes about three times a week. The best exercises include:
• power walking,
• keep fit classes.
It’s not a good idea to go on a restricted diet too soon after pregnancy. A woman needs about 1,200 calories a day to stay reasonably healthy, but most need between 1,500 and 2,200 calories to maintain energy levels. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need to eat at least 1,800 calories a day. Rapid weight loss will decrease your milk supply and can release toxins from body fat into your bloodstream and milk. Safe weight loss is about 1-1.5 lbs a week, which equates to about 500 calories a day by either decreasing your food intake or increasing your activity level. New mothers often have a haphazard schedule and eating 3 meals a day isn’t always convenient, so instead, eat 5 to 6 smaller meals a day with healthy snacks in between. A good example of a light meal could be sliced carrot, a sandwich, some fruit and a milky drink. It’s important not to skip meals and to eat breakfast! Dietary research has shown that you can lose weight naturally after pregnancy by consuming low-fat milk and dairy products, eating whole wheat breads and whole grain cereals, low fat and high fibre foods like vegetables, fruits, white meat and fish. Fats contain more calories than carbohydrates and proteins, so reducing fat’s a good way to cut out calories. Some fat intake’s important, so don’t eliminate it entirely. Choose ‘good’ fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) over ‘bad’ fats (saturated and trans fats). Drink plenty of water and be careful of calories hidden in sweetened drinks, also coffee and alcohol.