Losing weight as a new mommy.. Should you and how?
For many women, that exciting time of finally bringing home that little bundle of joy can be mixed with emotions about the changes in their own bodies. Very soon they start stressing about how they will lose the weight they put on over the past nine-plus months.
And although every new mom is eager to look like her old self again, one of the most important things to remember is to be patient with yourself. Your favorite celebrity might have gone straight from the delivery room into her size 0 jeans, but she may not have done it in a way that was good for her body.
So what is a realistic timeline to get back to your ‘normal’ weight?
The consensus seems to be that women should be able to lose their extra weight by six months after they give birth. Studies show that many women appear to hold on to at least a couple of pounds postpartum, and a quarter of women retain 11 or more pounds (5 or more kilograms) a year after giving birth.
While there is no ‘rule’, as everyone is different, 12 months seems to be the maximum upper ‘healthy’ limit for how long it should take for women to lose all of their pregnancy weight. That means women who started out at a normal BMI before pregnancy should aim to return to a normal BMI, and women who were overweight or obese before pregnancy should aim to return to their pre-pregnancy weight, and then continue losing weight.
Is it a problem to hold on to pregnancy weight too long, though?
Yes, holding on to pregnancy weight can lead to serious health consequences down the road, putting moms at risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. And losing the pregnancy weight is important not just for new moms, but for babies, too. Going into a future pregnancy at a higher weight can put both the mom and the developing baby at risk for medical complications, such as gestational diabetes and hypertension.
Is post-partum Weightloss harder?
Although it’s possible for women to lose all of their pregnancy weight without making major changes in their lives, the physical and hormonal impact and the natural shift in women’s lifestyles that happens after they give birth certainly introduces new challenges.
How to do it…
With the exception of breast-feeding (discussed below), guidelines for losing the baby weight is really no different from losing weight at any other point in life:
Follow a good eating plan with structure and support, ie the TLC-Program
Breastfeed if you can or choose to, keeping certain guidelines in mind
- Be realistic and set realistic weight loss goals:
You typically lose up to 10 pounds (4.5kg) during childbirth, and you will lose additional weight in the coming weeks as you shed additional retained fluids. While the fat you stored during pregnancy won’t disappear on its own right away, it’s also important to lose it in the right way. Keep in mind that depending on how much weight you have to lose, it may take six months or even longer to return to your pregnancy weight, whether you’re breast-feeding or not, so do not lose patience. Persistence will pay off.
- Drink up.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day prevents you from getting dehydrated. It also fills you up so that you don’t eat as much, and some research has found that it may speed up your metabolism. Also remember: If you’re breastfeeding, you are hydrating your little one and yourself. Breast milk is about 90% water. If you are breastfeeding you will be prone to dehydration, so water intake is even more important.
Use the color of your urine and how often you need to go to the bathroom as guides. If you’re drinking enough fluids, your urine should be relatively clear, and you should be going to the bathroom about every three to four hours.
- Be Active: Once you have the go-ahead from your doctor to exercise, try to walk 30 minutes a day at a comfortable pace. If you already had an exercise routine prior to pregnancy and/or during pregnancy, now’s the time to slowly ease back into it.
It may seem the most impossible of the guidelines, but try to get enough sleep! When you’re tired, your body releases cortisol and other stress hormones that can promote weight gain. In one study, new moms who slept five hours or less a night were more likely to hold onto their extra pregnancy weight than women who slept seven hours. Work on some strategies to grab enough sleep, even if it is throughout the day.
- Folllow a Good eating plan. It is important to follow a proper diet plan. Make sure your diet contains good proteins and only healthy fats, and that it eliminates excess sugar and processed foods and unnecessary carbohydrates. A good diet plan will give you clear guidelines to follow and provide support during your weight loss journey (TLC-Program)
Breastfeeding is a personal choice and it may well not be a possibility for every woman. However, beyond providing nourishment and helping to protect your baby from getting sick, breast-feeding can also help you lose weight gained during pregnancy. When you breast-feed, you use fat cells stored in your body during pregnancy, along with calories from your diet, to fuel your milk production and feed your baby. Breastfeeding is also a good way to tighten the belly because it causes the uterus to contract and quickly shrink back to its pre-baby size.
Dieting and breastfeeding:
In terms of dieting while breastfeeding it is very important to keep the following in mind:
-The calorie requirements for breast-feeding women are higher than those for women who are not breast-feeding. Women who exclusively breast-feed burn about 500 extra calories a day, compared with women who are not breast-feeding.
-Remember that you are using your own calories to feed your baby, and cutting calories too early or drastically may interfere with milk production.
-With weight loss toxins stored in the fat cells are released, and might also be transmitted into breast milk.
-You should not be following ANY strict diet for the first few weeks (at least 6-8 weeks) after giving birth or while breastfeeding is the sole source of your baby’s nutrition. Not only can strict dieting influence the volume of breast milk you produce, but you are at risk for a severe form of ketoacidosis. For reasons that aren’t entirely understood, it seems to be related to the metabolic changes and increased nutritional demands of producing milk. It is very rare, but a risk you do not want to take none the less.
If you do choose to diet while breastfeeding, inform your TLC-Coach so additional advice can be provided. (you may only start your TLC-Program when your baby is 6 to 8 weeks old)
Some Additional Tips for the new mom:
-Load up on “super foods.”
When you’re a new mother, your body needs maximum nutrition, especially if you’re nursing.
Choose foods that are heavy in the nutrients you need and light in calories and fat. If you are on the TLC-Program, those guidelines are provided for you in your Food Lists.
Fish is one of these “super foods” because it’s packed with DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that helps your newborn develop a healthy brain and nervous system. The best sources of DHA are cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna (stick to canned light tuna because albacore tends to be high in mercury).
Yogurt is also a super food because it is high in the calcium you need to keep your bones strong.
And don’t forget the protein. Lean meat and chicken are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. They’re good for you, and they’ll keep you feeling full for longer.
Lastly, make sure to enjoy your new baby while you get healthy!