I’d like to start by saying that losing the baby weight is absolutely not the be all and end all of life. For some women the weight just falls off and for others it’s a struggle that last for years. I would say that I fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes; breastfeeding meant that I was unable to cut calories too drastically as it affected my milk supply but equally, within a year I was basically back to my pre-pregnancy weight and size. Despite being ‘back to normal’, there really is no such thing. My body created, birthed and fed a human and that’s not something that you can magically erase. I’m not going to tell you to ‘love your tiger stripes’ because that honestly cringes me out so badly, but I am going to tell you not to let it get you down. Your body has achieved amazing and wonderful things and how you look in a bikini is so irrelevant when you compare it to the life that you have created and sustained.
All that being said, I think every woman has googled ‘how the hell can I lose this baby weight?’ at least once since giving birth and so I thought I would give my two cents on the whole postpartum weight loss situation.
I have always been told to not even think about losing weight for the first six weeks after giving birth so please bear that in mind when reading my tips. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone going out and overdoing it too soon!
1.Don’t rush your body.
Although some people magically drop the weight over night, for most of us it is not that quick or easy a process. Your body has gone through an incredibly traumatic experience and so you need to be kind to it. Starving yourself or forcing yourself back into the gym a week after giving birth is not the way to do it and will cause you more damage in the long run. A lot of women say that they try really hard to lose the weight for so long and then one day it’s as if the body is ready and suddenly the weight starts to shift. This is how it was for me, I battled for months and months and then at around ten months postpartum those last stubborn pounds suddenly began to disappear with little effort on my part. Somebody once told me that it takes nine months to put on the weight so don’t expect it to come off any quicker. I think this is excellent advice and something to remember when you are struggling with your mum tum.
2.Don’t be disheartened if breastfeeding doesn’t make you lose weight.
I was told categorically by many health professionals that breastfeeding would help me to shift the baby weight. And so when it didn’t, I was really disappointed. As much as that wasn’t the reason that I was breastfeeding, I really felt that I deserved to get some visible benefit from it. Of course the health benefits to both mum and baby are incredible, but a smaller waistline would have been nice too! That natural point that I mentioned earlier, when my body was ready to lose the last of the weight, really happened when the breastfeeds reduced as I suppose my body no longer felt it had to hang onto the calories to make as much milk.
3.Drink plenty of water.
We’re all sick of being told this one, but it’s only because it really is so essential. After having a baby you lose a lot of fluid; you’ll probably find yourself sweating and weeing a lot in those first few weeks postpartum, and it’s important to replenish your body. Drinking water is also really important if you are breastfeeding as you lose a lot of fluid through your milk too. I’m no scientist or dietitian so I don’t really know the ins and outs of drinking water for weight loss, but the way I see it the body just functions better when it is well hydrated! So drink up girls!
4.Incorporate light exercise into your everyday life.
You should always consult your doctor before starting to exercise after having a baby especially if you are planning on going to the gym or doing anything classed as high impact. I don’t really do much actual working out, but I do lead a very active lifestyle. I think most people with a baby or a toddler do! Even when Darcie was tiny and sleeping a lot I would make sure to go out for walks with her in the pram or the baby carrier and as I don’t drive walking is still my main mode of transport, even if that be walking to the bus stop. Just doing the housework and looking after Darcie is enough exercise for me most of the time, and I really don’t spend much of the day sitting down (with blogging as the exception to that). Keeping active in your everyday life is a much more manageable way to exercise than to trying to carve out time to go to the gym or a workout class.
5.Look for exercise classes specific to new mums.
If you do want to find a class to go to to help you shift those pounds, look for one specifically for new mums. We have an excellent class locally that is called Buggy Fit where you bring your baby along in the pram and they can sit and watch while you workout. This is a good way to meet other mums too, and means you won’t be comparing your fitness levels or your weight to somebody who hasn’t recently had a baby. Because that is just disheartening! If there is a class like this in your area, I would really recommend going along because the workout will be tailored to you as a woman who has recently given birth. The instructor will know what to focus on and what to avoid doing, and I don’t think you can every have too much advice when it comes to fitness and not pushing yourself too hard too soon.
6.Make sure you are eating well.
It’s only too easy to forget to eat when you have a baby. I’ve had many days when it gets to 4pm before I realise I haven’t eaten and I suddenly get so hungry, so fast that I binge on whatever is closest to me and easiest to prepare. Usually that won’t be something healthy! I find having a supply of healthy snacks on hand to grab throughout the day stops me from doing this too often. Having things like fruit, nuts, snack bars, hummus and carrot and cereal in the cupboards keeps that 4pm binge at bay and means that I am better energised throughout the day to look after my daughter. When you become a mum, you can often forget to look after yourself too, but forgetting to eat and then over eating unhealthy food is a sure fire way to gold onto that baby weight and just generally feel a bit rubbish.
7.Try to get some sleep.
I’ve said try to get some sleep, because I know only too well how hard that can be, and how infuriating it is to be told. I do partly blame sleep deprivation for how hard I found it to lose weight at first but unfortunately there sometimes isn’t much more you can do to get those eight hours. In the early days I would definitely suggest trying to nap during the day time when the baby is asleep. And if you have a koala baby like mine was that won’t be put down, try to rope in someone to come and hold the baby while you get some rest. Your body has got so much healing to do that will be taking all your energy, so you need to be kind to yourself before it will have any spare to go about losing that baby weight.
8.Find motivation and support from other new mums.
Everything is easier when we have a support system in place. It is so helpful and motivating to have someone you can compare postpartum weight loss notes with and see that you aren’t the only one struggling. We are bombarded with images of celebrities who seem to have magically shed the weight and it is easy to feel down about the fact that your body didn’t get the memo. Everyone is different and every body adjusts to things in a different way so don’t compare yourself too much to others. They are probably struggling with something else that you can’t see. Just because it’s not stored in fat pockets around their belly doesn’t mean that they aren’t fighting their own battle!
They are my main bits of advice for anyone looking to lose the baby weight. Don’t stress about it though, the main priority is to look after your new baby and to be kind to yourself. Make as many small healthy lifestyle changes as you can manage and then just take it day by day.
What would be your top piece of advice to lose those pregnancy pounds?