Losing weight after childbirth
It seems that not a week will go by without photos in the media showing celebrities looking super-slim shortly after the birth of their babies. Just last week Beyonce Knowles was looking slim and healthy 10 weeks after having her daughter, but if the stories are to believed this has only come about after a crippling 4 hour a day exercise programme and a restrictive diet of protein shakes, egg-white omelettes, pineapple chunks and lots of ice-cold water! Not something most of us would want or be able to do, I think.
But is this the best way to lose weight after birth? The concern is that these celebrity mums pressurise, although not intentionally, other women to lose weight too fast after the birth putting their health and well-being at risk. Crash dieting can have health consequences. As I'm sure many of you already know, having a baby is a tiring business and severely restricting your diet can only make this worse. A lack of energy will mean you won't be in the best state to look after your baby properly and it may well slow down your recovery from your pregnancy. Of course if you are breastfeeding it may well affect your breastmilk supply too.
Weight loss after birth takes time - a pregnancy usually takes 9 months and it can take at least this long to get your weight back to normal. Losing weight gradually can help mums to maintain a healthier weight in the long term, whereas crash diets don't encourage the best eating habits or healthy weight loss or maintenance.
The best advice is to eat a nutritious, varied diet from the start, eating when you are hungry, and not to even think about slimming for at least the first 6 weeks or so after your baby is born. Breastfeeding mums are often hungry and will need to eat more calories than a bottle feeding mum due to the demands of breastfeeding, but some of these extra calories can be met from using body fat stores, so breastfeeding can help with post-pregnancy weight loss. Have a look at our website for advice on eating well while breastfeeding.
Whether you are breastfeeding or not, it is important that you eat healthy meals and avoid eating too many high energy meals and snacks, and that you adjust your portion sizes to suit your appetite.
And don't expect to do 4 hours exercise a day. You can start to do some gentle exercise (walking, pelvic floor exercises, stretching) as soon as you feel up to it after your baby is born, but you should wait six weeks or so before taking up more strenuous exercise. Why not look at our website for some postnatal exercise tips?
Until next time.