We get it. If you see one more tabloid proclaiming that a celebrity mom lost her baby weight in eight weeks, you’re going to scream. Not only is that a completely unrealistic goal, it can also be hurtful to moms who are struggling with their new post-baby bodies.
You have probably heard experts use the expression “nine months up, nine months down,” when referring to “baby weight,” but even that might not be true for everyone. There are many factors that determine how and when your baby weight will come off, and it won’t happen the same way for everyone. However, there are some universal tips that should help make the process easier, and less stressful on you. After all, you have some very important things to focus on, like the new little person in your life.
First, Talk to Your Doctor
Before you attempt to lose any weight, speak with your doctor or midwife. In nearly every case, it is not recommended that you do strenuous exercise for the first six weeks after giving birth, and C-section moms shouldn’t even be going up and down stairs for the first 21 days, let alone jogging or bicycling.
The point is, your body has been through a pretty significant trauma, and jumping too fast into workouts or dieting could harm more than it helps.
Your doctor will provide advice on appropriate timing, nutrition, and safe ways to move as you recover. But most importantly, your doctor is the person to give you the all-clear to begin weight loss efforts.
Load Up on Healthy Foods
Notice we are using the term “load up” and not words like “diet” or “restrict.” After childbirth, your body undergoes a massive process of recovery. Now is not the time to deprive it of calories, as this may delay or prolong this crucial healing stage.
Rather than focusing on restricting your food intake, it is instead recommended that you eat to satisfy your hunger, but choose mostly healthy foods when you do. Healthy grains, protein, fruits and vegetables, and yes, dietary fat are all extremely important. After childbirth, your body needs a lot of energy for muscle recovery, for restoring your strength, and getting everything back to normal. Once that happens, your healthy food choices will naturally promote weight loss.
Breastfeed or Pump If You’re Able
We understand that this can be a touchy subject for many moms, so we are not making any judgments on how you choose to feed your baby. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the production of breast milk burns an average of 300 calories per day – even while you are sitting down.
These extra burned calories can help begin the process of slimming you down, and what’s more, many women report that they begin to crave healthy foods while they are breast-feeding. (Breast-feeding most certainly increases your hunger and thirst.) If you have a baby who will not latch on, but would still like to feed them breast milk, a breast pump could be the solution.
Find an Exercise That Promotes Strength and Flexibility
When you are first given the go-ahead to begin exercising, it’s best to start slowly. Look for exercises you enjoy, which specifically promote strength and flexibility. Not only will this help relieve some of the aches and pains associated with carrying a baby around all day, it should also help prime your body for more rigorous exercise further down the line.
Many gyms offer postnatal yoga specifically for this purpose. There is zero impact, and the gentle movements focus on building muscles and avoiding injury. Water aerobics is another wonderful option, as it allows you to move your body in safe ways without risking any damage to your joints or muscles as they continue to heal.
Yes, we know. This is probably the most difficult item on the list. But here’s the truth – and something that every new mom has figured out: your body won’t let go of extra weight if you are sleep deprived. And you’re almost always sleep deprived!
So here’s our best advice on this front: ask for help, and don’t be afraid to use the actual phrase “I need help.” What form this help takes is up to you. Some parents choose to make use of daycare or a babysitter to allow them a few hours in the middle of the day to catch up on sleep. Some might send the baby to visit with grandparents so they may enjoy an occasional evening alone. While others just trade off evenings with their significant other so that at least one of them is getting a full night’s sleep.
If you feel that your baby’s sleep patterns are becoming too problematic, don’t hesitate to discuss this with your paediatrician. Your baby’s quality of sleep directly affects your quality of life, and the sooner you can address the issue, the sooner you will be catching up on the rest you need.
Above all, remember to be patient and kind with yourself. Your body just did the most amazing thing it can possibly do, and it takes time to bounce back from such a life-altering event. Focus on looking after yourself: remember to visit your doctor regularly, eat healthy foods, and rest when you can. You should then begin to see the weight come off. But for now, enjoy that beautiful baby!