Q. I’ve put on a significant amount of weight during pregnancy which I am keen to lose once the baby is born but don’t want to be fanatical about dieting with a newborn. Are there any tips for losing baby weight?
A. Everyone puts on weight when they are pregnant – it’s a normal, natural part of pregnancy and essential for the health of the baby (although excessive weight gain is not advised).
The average weight gain during pregnancy is between 17.5 lbs and 30 lbs, but some women put on more and others less. Wanting to regain your figure after having a baby is also understandable. It makes you feel more like a woman (not just a mum), and it’s nice to be able to wear your normal clothes again (when you are feeling heavy in the weeks running up to the birth, it’s hard to imagine ever slipping into skinny jeans!). However, what is sad is the pressure many women feel to snap back into shape immediately.
A recent poll revealed that half of women put pressure on themselves to return to a lighter weight than before they were pregnant, and 40 per cent said they frequently worried about their body in the three months after pregnancy with stretchmarks, weight, body shape and breast size topping their concerns. A further one in five women felt pressurised to lose weight after pregnancy because their partners were not happy with the way they looked. Endless pictures of celebrity mums dropping back down to their pre-pregnancy weight or less in a matter of weeks don’t help either. So what is the healthy way to lose weight after having a baby? During pregnancy your body goes through huge physical changes and those changes continue after birth. Immediately after the birth, your tummy will look only a little different from how it did before the baby was born, as pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge taken the day after her son Prince George was born clearly show. That’s because during pregnancy, a woman’s abdominal wall muscles and uterus must stretch a lot in order for a baby to grow. In the days and weeks following the birth, this will gradually go down, and weight loss is particularly helped by breast-feeding your baby. According to the same survey carried out by BioOil, for around 20 per cent of new mums their tummy went down after two weeks and for nearly 30 per cent it took longer than three months. Even for those women who seem to regain their figure quickly, there are often a few lingering extra pounds which are difficult to shift. The advice from the experts is to lose baby weight slowly. In those early months of having a baby, most women are physically and emotionally exhausted by the regular feeds they need to give their baby, so starving the body of food at this time is not a good idea.
The general rule from midwives is that just as it took nine months to produce a full grown baby, it will take at least that long to regain some of your former shape. My advice would be to be kind to yourself. It’s not easy being a new mum, and putting yourself under another pressure is likely to backfire.
Eat sensibly and exercise – and before you know it you’ll be shedding the pounds. The most important thing is looking after the new addition to your family.