Why you shouldn’t diet straight after pregnancy
We have some tips to help you reach your weight loss goals after pregnancy
There are lots of things you can do to get yourself back into shape after having your baby, however it’s really important as a new mum to also give yourself a break and recover after birth. It’s worth waiting until you’ve had your postnatal check with your GP, which happens around six to eight weeks after you’ve had your baby, before you think about losing weight.
Your body will need nutrition and rest straight after birth to recover from delivery, fight infections and feed your baby. Even without actively thinking about losing weight at this time, you’ll be burning calories if you’re breastfeeding, and getting as much sleep as you can is very important to help stop any snacking on high-calorie, unhealthy foods.
How can I lose weight after pregnancy?
Losing weight after having your baby needs to be done safely, focusing on keeping your body healthy and strong to cope with the demands of a newborn. Focus on eating healthily, including plenty of vegetables, protein and fruit in your meals. It’s also important to stay hydrated and drink lots of water, as it’s easy to forget about looking after yourself when you’re focused on looking after your newborn.
Starting the day can be a bit hectic with a newborn baby, but it’s important to remember to have breakfast in the morning to give you energy, and stop you snacking later on. For lunch and dinner try to eat plenty of fibre-rich food such as oats, beans, lentils, grains, seeds and wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice and pasta. As well as this try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Although you may feel tired, if you’re trying to lose weight it’s better to make all of your own meals rather than get take-aways or fast food so you know exactly what will be going in, and can be aware of the amount of oil, sugars and fats going into your food.
Although you might feel like you need a sugar hit, try to go easy on sugary and fatty foods which can add on the pounds. Things you can easily cut out are sweets, cakes, biscuits, pastries and fizzy drinks. These are all very easy to grab when you’re feeling tired and feel like you need a sugar hit for energy, so pick up a piece of fruit or some carrot sticks instead!
What exercises can I do?
Finding time to exercise with a newborn baby can be difficult but it’s not impossible to do. An easy way to start getting fit again is to go on a walk with your newborn baby and it’s a great way to get out of your house for a bit as well. Other things you can do is join a class with other new mums which can help give you motivation and guide you through gentle exercises that are tailored to mums who have just given birth.
You can also start weight training without having to go to the gym. You could invest in a set of dumbbells or even incorporate your newborn into your routine! Get some lunges in behind the stroller as you walk, or lie on your back and hold the baby above your chest, slowly lifting up towards the ceiling several times.
Does breastfeeding help lose weight?
Losing weight after giving birth may seem like a mammoth task, however if you’re breastfeeding you will already be shedding the calories. Although it fluctuates, you could burn around 300-500 calories per day and breastfeeding stimulates the hormones that you need to shrink your uterus and post baby belly.
It is safe to lose weight when breastfeeding as long as you do it gradually. Losing between 1-2 pounds shouldn’t affect the amount or quality of the milk you are producing, nor hamper your baby’s growth. See more here about eating healthily while you're breastfeeding.
If you are breastfeeding be aware that when you stop you will conversely stop burning as many calories, so ensure that you listen to your body and ensure you’re not overeating or consuming more than your calorie allowance each day.
What can I expect if I diet and exercise?
If you’re watching what you eat and exercising you should start to see a difference in your weight, but give yourself the time to get back into shape and start this process gradually. Immediate weight loss is unrealistic for a new mum despite what you might see in celebrity stories.
We encourage you to think of losing weight after birth as creating a healthy body that you’re happy with, rather than focusing from day 1 on getting your pre-baby body back.
As a guideline, you can aim to return to your pre-baby body by the time your baby is six months old. If that feels too soon don’t despair, it can take up to a year to achieve your goals as remember you are looking after a newborn whilst doing this which is hard work!
If you are finding it difficult to reach your goals remember to give yourself a break and remember everything that you’re achieving by bringing up your newborn even if you aren’t doing so well with your weight. Treat yourself to keep your self esteem up such as getting a new haircut or buying new clothes to flatter your figure. This will keep you happy and motivated which is the best thing for both you and your baby.