The weight you gain during pregnancy can be shed provided you take corrective steps to promote weight loss after the baby’s birth.
Pregnancy is truly the most magical period of a woman’s life. As her body changes to accommodate the growing foetus inside her, she does everything in her power to keep the baby safe and healthy. This includes eating balanced meals and taking pre-natal vitamins as prescribed.
Every woman gains weight during her pregnancy. It is inevitable because a woman consumes larger portions of food to feed the baby. Internal physical and hormonal changes also prompt weight gain. This additional weight is also due in part to the weight of the growing foetus. Doctors may recommend that some women should gain weight during pregnancy (those with a BMI of 20 or lower).
However, the extra weight is often difficult to shift after the birth of the baby. Women are biologically wired to lose about half of the weight gained postpartum. Doctors recommend that women should lose the weight gained within a year of delivering the baby. “The added weight can be difficult to lose after a year. Many new mothers are less motivated to try post pregnancy weight loss. With time, they become comfortable with the added kilos,” says Dr. Sandhya Naik, gynaecologist.
Dr. Naik adds, “I tell new mothers to start moderate exercise about two months after birth. They can start with a walk, and slowly step up the momentum. However, very heavy exercise is not recommended up to six months postpartum.”
The crux of post pregnancy weight loss is in reversing the dietary pattern the woman has assumed during pregnancy. “She must now eat smaller portions, and stave off junk food cravings. Instead, she should stock up on foods that generate energy slowly. Dates, bananas and many water-rich fruits are excellent dietary options,” recommends Snehal Date, nutritionist. “The trick is to eat small meals and be active. Seasonal fruits and vegetables keep the digestive tract clean and are beneficial for breast-feeding mothers. They also help the woman lose weight – she is fuller for a longer time and more energetic about exercising.”
Physical trainer Muskaan Makhija works with several new mothers in Mumbai. “Many of them are shy about going to a gymnasium because they feel fat. They are focussed towards going back to the same weight before pregnancy,” she explains. “Starting with moderate exercise, the woman can step up the intensity to include cardio, strength training, even Pilates and floor crunches. Most women are motivated to stay on course if their goal is to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes. It is important to eat six small meals a day during this phase, because the woman is both shedding weight and breast-feeding.”
Drinking 8 glasses of water is crucial; it helps the body flush out fat. Eating boiled or steamed food will get faster results, as will being on the move whenever possible. But most importantly, post pregnancy weight loss should be focussed towards regaining fitness, not developing a reed thin frame. In many cases, pregnancy may change the body forever, so women must reconcile themselves to never looking the way they did in the pre-pregnancy stage.