Becoming a mum can be a wonderful, fulfilling experience and the time spent enjoying your new baby is precious. However, the massive changes our bodies go through during the pregnancy process can take their toll, leaving us with unwanted extra pounds which can be hard to shift, especially when you’re a busy new mum.
5 Tips on How to Lose Weight After Pregnancy
Having a baby affects your body in many different ways. Nearly all Mums gain weight during their pregnancy – the amount depends on many factors including your genes, age, and the size of your baby. There are countless fun, simple and effective things you can do to help lose this excess weight once you feel ready. Many new mums feel under pressure to lose their baby weight however it is important to do so in a safe, steady and enjoyable way, so you can maintain your energy levels and make the most of the time with your baby.
Paying attention to your diet and exercise is very important for weight loss. You can start to gently increase your activity levels as soon as you feel comfortable after giving birth. Most new mums can start a more formal method of exercise around 6-10 weeks afterwards, once they have been given the go-ahead from their midwife or doctor.
Tip 1: Exercise regularly When you’re feeling tired, exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do. However regular exercise improves your fitness, mood and energy levels. It is also important for weight loss as it helps to burn calories and speed up your metabolism. Depending on how and where you choose to exercise you will notice many additional benefits. Exercise can help you relax, it can be a great way to bond with your baby and to socialise with other mums. Most forms of gentle aerobic exercise such as walking and swimming can be resumed very soon after having a baby.
As a guide women should wait until at least one week after they no longer feel any discomfort before starting to increase their activity. It is also very important to exercise your pelvic floor muscles, as advised by your midwife. These exercises help to strengthen your back and abdominals, so you can recover from the birth and prepare for other forms of exercise. Other forms of exercise, such as toning exercises or jogging are a great way for you to lose weight after pregnancy and can usually be resumed 6 – 10 weeks after giving birth. In some cases this may be sooner but it is advisable to see your doctor or midwife for a check up before starting a more intense form of exercise. This will make sure your body is ready and you can exercise without an increased risk of injury and fatigue. For best weight loss results you should aim to exercise for 30 minutes or more, at least 5 times a week. However it is important to choose an exercise regime that suits your lifestyle, your energy levels and your baby. Good suggestions for exercise, many of which you can do with your baby, include:
- Going for a walk in the park, perhaps with other mums and babies you know. There are many groups who run exercise classes with buggies in tow. Exercising outdoors can have a calming effect on both mums and your babies, and pushing a buggy and wearing a “baby back pack” are great ways to strengthen and tone your body
- Swimming can be great fun for babies and older children. You can start swimming once your post natal bleeding has stopped and many leisure centres offer baby swimming classes or mum and baby sessions. (Please check with the pool regarding their policies on babies, as young babies require water heated to higher temperatures)
- There are many fitness classes that involve your baby and can be great ways to improve your fitness, meet other mums and lose weight in the process. For example, you can join our Yogabubs Baby Yoga and Massage classes, which are good fun, and a great way to incorporate exercise and spending time with your little one. Yogabubs has many benefits, including being great for Colic and Digestive issues, Mental Stimulation, Physical Development and encouraging good, solid sleep.
For further guidance on exercise after pregnancy and exercise to lose weight, it is advisable to speak to a specialist personal trainer such as myself, who can provide you with a tailor made programme of exercise and plenty of fitness advice.
Tip 2: Keep as active as possible There are plenty of ways to keep active day to day, many of which offer similar benefits to formal exercise in terms of weight loss, strength and stamina. Make the most of the opportunities available to you around your house. You will likely be spending lots of time rushing around to find toys, baby monitors and nappies! Make the most of chances to be active: run up stairs, play active games with older children or crawling babies, and move objects one or two at a time, so you make more journeys. This will burn extra calories and help towards your weight loss. Lifting and bending carefully will help to tone your muscles and protect your back from injury. Do make sure you bend at the knees when reaching down and lift heavier objects such as car seats carefully, keeping the load close to your body. All of these activities may help to improve your muscle tone, which in turn will help to support your metabolism, whilst keeping your body strong and healthy. You might like to try Yoga classes, taught by yoga expert, Jackie Heffer-Cooke, as a great way to unwind and rejuvenate, whilst tackling your post-baby weight and strengthening your core.
Tip 3: Make time for sleep and relaxation It goes without saying having a baby plays havoc with your sleep patterns. The amount and times at which your baby sleeps will likely depend on their age and personality. A lack of sleep can increase your appetite, as sleep deprivation influences levels of two of the main appetite controlling hormones, leptin and ghrelin. To regulate your appetite try to sleep and relax when your baby does, taking short naps during the day to boost your energy levels. If naps are not for you, try practicing deep relaxation techniques. As little as five to 10 minutes’ deep relaxation can leave you feeling refreshed and less stressed.
Making time for sleep and relaxation should help to regulate your appetite. If you find you still feel hungry more often, aim to eat healthy snacks which keep your blood sugar levels steady and make sure you stay hydrated. Good ideas include a handful of almonds, a banana or a couple of wholegrain crackers (such as ryvita) with soft cheese. Our nutritional therapist Catherine Jeans can help to provide you with a healthy eating plan to support appetite control and healthy weight loss.
Tip 4: Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet When trying to lose weight after pregnancy it is important to make sure you are still getting all the vitamins and minerals that you need, especially if you are breast feeding. Following a healthy balanced diet is the safest and most effective method for new mums to lose weight, when combined with regular exercise. Our nutritional therapist Catherine Jeans also advises a good quality antenatal multi vitamin and mineral, as an insurance policy to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need during breastfeeding. We stock a good range of supplements designed for breast feeding at the clinic.
In terms of your diet, aim to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, avoid foods high in sugar and saturated fat (such as cakes and fried foods), and cut back on unrefined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta. It may be difficult to eat healthy meals when balancing the demands of looking after your baby. To make this easier try preparing fruit and vegetables in large quantities, then freezing them in small convenient portions. You can also do this when making healthy dinners, by cooking more portions than you need and freezing the rest for another day. Alongside eating healthily you also need to stay hydrated, to maintain your energy levels and ensure you don’t confuse thirst with hunger. It is best to drink water when you feel thirsty, not tea or coffee, as caffeine can be dehydrating. Keep a glass of water handy and sip regularly throughout the day. For further advice on healthy eating after having a baby, and eating to lose weight after pregnancy it is advisable to speak to our nutritional therapist.
Tip 5: Take it steady It is important to lose weight steadily and sensibly after giving birth, to make sure your body can make a good recovery. It took around 9 months to have your baby and it could take another 9 months (or more) to lose your baby weight. It is important to lose weight at a rate that suits you and you should not aim to lose more than of 2kg (4.5lbs) per month. The best way to do this is by keeping active, exercising regularly and eating a healthily balanced diet as previously explained. When you feel ready to lose weight after your pregnancy it can be a good idea to view this time as an opportunity to make long term healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle. It is important for everybody to exercise regularly and eat sensibly. By involving your family in your efforts to eat healthily and be more active you will be able to enjoy valuable time together, whilst teaching older children about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise.
For more information about joining Yogabubs Baby Yoga, or Yogabuds Yoga for All, email [email protected], or call 01603 631 900.