Top 7 Weight Loss Tips for New Mums
Updated: Feb 16
Most women don’t lose weight after birth because they gain too much during pregnancy and the “I’m eating for two” old tale is the excuse. The problem is that it can lead to obesity and consequently diabetes and high blood pressure.
Weight gain is an inevitable part of becoming pregnant and, of course, the weight gained during pregnancy amounts to more than the weight of the baby, serving the biological purpose of offering extra fat as an energy reserve for the birth and breastfeeding.
However, 40-60% of women gain more than the guidelines recommend and most of them do so in the first trimester, when the weight gain should be only a few pounds. Many women lose the baby weight in two months after delivery and the total pregnancy weight during the first six months to a year. But some still find themselves carrying extra fat stores.
So what can you do to lose the extra pounds?
1. Be realistic
We all have seen celebrities looking fabulous on the red carpet 2 months after giving birth. These people have nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers, doctors and nannies supporting them 24/7. We have also seen the celebrities that have been criticised for gaining much more weight than necessary. So don’t compare yourself to them or anyone else, it’s not a race. Be kind to yourself, enjoy your baby and be as healthy as possible at your own pace.
2. Breastfeed if you can or choose to
The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are supported by scientific evidence and, in addition to providing the best nutrition and immune system for your baby, it speeds up the return of the uterus to its normal size and supports your weight loss. Breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day.
3. Forget about diets, follow a healthy eating plan
A nutritionist can design an eating plan specific to you and your needs. You don’t need to eat for two and you certainly don’t need to feed your baby or yourself pizza and ice cream. High fibre foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, healthy fats and clean protein give you and your baby more and better power than junk food. Eating for two is well over the average 300 extra calories (equal to baked potato or a cup of oatmeal) needed per day to support a healthy pregnancy. The focus is to eat well pre, during and post pregnancy to keep both of you properly nourished.
4. Avoid added sugar, refined carbs, highly processed foods and alcohol
This is true for anyone and everyone on the planet. Sugar, refined carbs, processed foods and alcohol are high in calories and low in nutrients. Processed foods, in addition to high sugar, mainly contain unhealthy fats, salt, preservatives and additives that promote addictive eating behaviours and result in unwanted weight gain.
Studies have shown that a glass of red wine has some health benefits but it still provides extra calories without nutrition and can affect your baby’s development during pregnancy and after delivery. It can also reduce breast milk volume when breastfeeding and be passed through breast milk to your baby.
5. Get active
After delivery, your pelvic and stomach areas need time to heal, especially if you have had a caesarean section birth. Gym classes, strength training and HITT sessions are an option that will have to wait until it is medically safe for you if you choose to do so.
What you can do is get physically active, go for walks, take your baby out, push the baby carriage or carry your baby on a sling, enjoy nature and walk wherever possible. The idea that you have to be confined and house bound is a made up story that no mother in a third world country cold ever understand. As soon as you feel ready, have a simple active routine that keeps you moving and contributes to both your physical and emotional wellbeing. Your baby needs fresh air too, so enjoy it together.
6. Drink Enough Water
There is such a thing as thirst hunger. Your brain will fire hunger signals when your stomach demands intake. However, this demand does not differentiate between food and drink. That’s why you may have heard the advice of drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes before deciding whether it is time to eat.
While breastfeeding, staying hydrated is particularly important to replace fluids lost through milk production.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Your sleep pattern becomes instantly compromised when your baby arrives, this is unavoidable and sleep deprivation increases cortisol, which makes your metabolism less efficient. Strategies that may help include sleeping when your baby is sleeping and asking for help from family and friends when you need it because you have to take care of you too. There is a reason on a plane you have to put on your oxygen mask first before your child’s. You can only look after your child if you look after yourself first.
Weight gain during pregnancy is unavoidable and it must be done safely. Your body needs extra energy and nutrition to recover from the delivery and build up a healthy supply of breast milk for your baby. It's OK to indulge occasionally while being smart about it to avoid over gaining.
Healthy nutrition to ensure your baby’s development supersedes dieting for weight loss. The good news is that a healthy and nutrient dense meal plan adapted to your needs can nourish your baby while you shed the weight, more so if you ate for two during your pregnancy.