Pregnancy weight. Don’t mums know all about it after delivery! The flabby stomach, the wide hips, bigger breasts and heavier thighs…. You get that sinking realization right after you step out of the hospital that losing your baby fat will take some work and you’ll probably need a new wardrobe too to accommodate your new bigger shape.
All is not lost though. Depending on how much weight you have gained in those 40 weeks and how much your newborn, the amniotic fluid and the placenta weighed, most women can expect to lose up to five or 6kg during the delivery itself.
Where does Baby Weight come from?
Assuming you put on 12 to 16kg of weight during your pregnancy and you have lost 5kg comprising the baby, the placenta and amniotic fluid during birthing itself, what is constituting the rest of the weight on your body?
Generally speaking, the weight comes from your heavier breast tissues, your increased blood supply, your enlarged uterus and your fat stores. The fat stores are a natural necessity as your body retains them as energy reserves for the labour or birthing process and of course, for breastfeeding.
As for your uterus enlargement, this is a natural occurrence too. It will take at least six weeks for your uterus to shrink back to its normal pre-pregnancy size. Before you got pregnant, your uterus was only the size of your fist and probably weighed 50 to 100g. Over the months, it stretched and stretched to accommodate the growing baby and by 40 weeks, it most likely measured 40cm large and weighed 1kg. That’s just the uterus weight itself, which explains why, right after the baby is born, you will still have your “pregnant” belly for a time, although it will be a lot saggier than when you had a baby in it. Therefore, give your uterus and your belly a bit of time to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy state
Important to Lose Weight
In truth, weight loss may be the last thing on your mind in the early days after birth, what with having to recover from childbirth, taking care of a helpless newborn and learning or relearning things that come with that responsibility, adjusting to a brand new routine and quite possibly losing sleep or not getting enough rest throughout it all. This can be stressful to say the least, which is why many women put their postpartum weight loss programme somewhere at the bottom of their long list of daily priorities.
However, it is important to return to a healthy weight after delivery. For starters, you’ll want to get back in shape to look good and stay fit. Secondly, it’s to prepare yourself and your body for a subsequent pregnancy ─ if you’re planning to have another child again in the future that is. Being overweight brings about a heightened risk of complications in later pregnancies such as but not limited to gestational diabetes and so on.
Ways To Lose Pregnancy Weight
So here are some effective tips on how you can shed that baby weight.
1. Be Realistic about Your Weight Loss
You might be marveling at how quickly Kate Middleton or Megan Markle seem to be losing their baby fat. Well, they live a different lifestyle and that’s them. You, on the other hand, are you. Every woman is different and each has her own metabolic rate. Your age factors in as well, and so does your diet and your genes.
Depending on how much weight you gained, it is realistic to expect to lose up to 5kg over one. If you gained more weight, you could expect to take a little longer to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Generally-speaking, it is quite safe to cut your calorie-intake by about 500 calories a day to achieve a paced and sustained weight loss of 0.5kg a week over the long term.
You may want to work with your doctor or an exercise programme to speed things along.
Don’t go on crash diets or starve yourself. Crash diets or Yo-Yo diets never work, you may lose weight quickly but regain all or more of the weight you lost even more quickly. Besides you will need to eat properly and ensure your body gets the nutrition it needs to heal, recover and stay fresh-minded and physically healthy to look after the baby.
Many moms will attest, breastfeeding helps melt off the pounds in no time. One study of 4,922 breastfeeding women found that participants lost an average of 1.68kg more weight than non-breastfeeding women by six months after delivery.
You see, breastfeeding can burn up about 500 calories per day without you doing anything other than nurse your baby. Your body has to work hard round the clock to produce that milk.
Additionally, breastfeeding stimulates the release of hormones that help shrink your uterus and that post baby belly. This is the secret to how you can automatically lose that belly fat although to get back the taut stomach muscles you once had, you may need to hit the gym for some targeted exercises.
If you are not breastfeeding, however, diet and exercise will still be enough to help you lose weight.
Exercise always does a body good. You may be super busy going about your day but you can always find ways to start exercising with baby such as taking baby in a stroller for a walk or as mentioned, you can do pilates or yoga at a gym near you. Or find an activity you enjoy ─ such as jogging, cycling, or swimming. Take swimming lessons with baby!
Baby can start swimming lessons as early as six months old. You can join in parent-child swimming classes. You will be in the water with baby and this gives excellent opportunities to mingle with other parents or simply to socialize and have a great time learning skills and achieving all those high points with baby.
4. Eat High Fibre Foods
Eating foods that are high in fibre helps with weight loss. You will feel full as it slows down digestion, reducing those hunger hormone levels. Eating high fibre foods also gives you more energy to keep up with the momentum of the day. High fibre foods are also good for the gut and helps regulate elimination through bowel movement.
5. Eat Good Quality Proteins
Proteins have a thermic effect in that the body will require more energy to digest it than other types of foods. This will result in more calories burned.
Protein is also able to suppress appetite by increasing the fullness hormones as well as reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin.
Healthy proteins include lean meats, fish, lowfat and non-fat diary, beans and lentils, nuts, seeds and eggs.
6. Eat Often and Snack Healthily
Whenever you are hungry, snack but do snack on healthy foods such as cut vegetables, nuts, fruit, yoghurt. Don’t start digging into potato crisps, chocolate and cake ─ you know they are not going to help you with your weight loss.
7. Say No to Sugar and Refined Carbs
Avoid those carbonated drinks no matter how tempting they may seem to be. They are loaded with sugar and you may be ingesting more than your fair share of sugar without knowing it. Drink water. Or if you wish to enjoy flavour to your drinks, try coconut water in its pure form without additional sugar. Alternatively, you can try juicing or drink fruit-infused water.
When choosing food at the supermarket, read the food labels. If sugar is one of the first ingredients on the list, that product should be avoided. It is easy to reduce your sugar intake by avoiding processed foods and sticking to whole foods such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, nuts and yogurt.
8. Avoid Highly Processed Junk Foods
You know what they are: Prepacked foods with heavy flavouring such as snacks made from corn or cereal, chips and crisps, cookies, baked items, candy, ready meals including noodles which we Malaysians are so fond of, cakes, biscuits, patisserie meats like salami and so on and so forth. These foods are high in sodium (salt), sugar, unhealthy fats and calories. They will not do a thing for your weight-loss programme.
Malaysian Mums Share How They Got Back In Shape After Pregnancy
Excerpted from a popular Malaysian forum, these four mums share how they did it.
- Mum A
“I was 75kg during pregnancy. I lost 5kg immediately after delivery (the baby’s weight of course!). I lost another 5kg after a week or two. I was fully breastfeeding. After one month confinement I started on a nutritious supplement. Then I just kept losing weight and now I’m 56kg. Baby is one year old. I like my new weight now.”
- Mum B
“I was 50kg before my first child. When pregnant with him, my weight went up to 75kg. After delivery, it came down to 70kg and within six months, somehow it went back to my original weight. I did not do anything extraordinary except for joining a yoga class for two months (eight sessions only).
I only breast fed for three months and stopped because I had to work and my office had no place to pump breast milk. I also did not take nutritious product. I just ate a slightly lesser portion.”
- Mum C
“For those who want to lose weight fast the best way is to take care of your baby at night. I lost all the weight that I gained within four months and could wear my pre-pregnancy jeans back.”
- Mum D
“I went back to prepartum weight in two month because I took care of the baby day and night. But even after the baby weight was gone, I wanted to go back to my previous shape so I did pushups everyday to firm up the muscles of my tummy.”
- Mum E
For me, I think wearing bengkung helps. Tie as tightly as you can. Get the modern bengkung, it is easy to tie and will help you sustain longer when wearing. Many of my friend quit half way because they find too difficult to wear the traditional bengkung.
Another thing is allowing to sweat during confinement. Many women say cannot tahan being hot and sweaty so they turn on fans or aircon. What you are really missing is sweating as it helps to release the extra water you retain in your body during pregnancy. Just like if you have weight problem, some slimming centres will wrap you to sweat you into shape.
Last but not least, taking care of your baby and breast feeding. I breastfed, took care of my baby, wore bengkung for two months diligently 24/7 and sweated a lot during confinement. No special diet and zero exercise (where got time)… When I went back to work after two months maternity leave, I could already wear my Levi’s slim cut (from 71kg to 55kg). A lot of people actually didnt realise I had just delivered a baby!
For more smart parenting tips, be sure to visit Motherhood.com.my.