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I have a friend who had a baby a month ago. She feels pretty good and wants to try to lose a little weight since she gained quite a bit during her pregnancy. Do you have any suggestions on exercise and eating to lose weight?
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After giving birth to 3 kids, I got to say that the best way to lose weight is through breastfeeding. I lost more than half of the weight I gained in just 2 weeks after giving birth to my 2 kids because, unfortunately, I was not able to breastfeed my eldest. When I was breastfeeding, I literally ate for 2, because I was always hungry and exhausted after every feeding but that did not result in any weight gain, instead, I was back in my pre-pregnancy weight after about 6 weeks.
Of course, there are instances when breastfeeding is not an option or is considered a challenge for some moms. If this is the case, light exercises can be done especially if you have given birth naturally. It is another story though if you have given birth via Caesarean Section. If this is the case, you should take it slow for the time being and I suggest that you talk to your ob-gyn so he can give you a green light when it comes to any physical activities such as exercises.
It is also good to eat a well-balanced meal and drink a lot of water. Focus on recuperating and gaining your strength back. It is much important for you to be healthy because your baby will depend on you. Good luck to your friend.
I totally get wanting to get your body back to "normal" after having a baby. One month after having a baby isn't that much time to expect any drastic changes, but I can understand the urgency. This is especially true if postpartum life doesn't reflect the life you had beforehand (more time to work out, make healthy meals, etc.)
Breastfeeding is my favorite postpartum workout. It's incredible how much work your body does to nurse a child constantly. As far as other exercises go, walking and light yoga is a great place to start. Posture exercises are also wonderful. It's really important not to over do it too quickly - but everyone is so different! I know some moms who were running well before 6 weeks and others who are 6 months post-baby and still not working out at the same capacity.
Smaller, more frequent, meals will keep your energy up and prevent you from overeating during regular meal times. Smoothies, protein-packed salads, and whole grains are a great place to start.
Also, a fitness watch would be really helpful. Even if it's just to keep track of a step goal, it will help you stay on top of your movement and work towards your fitness goals. Find a few mamas to go for walks or light runs with. It's always more fun to workout with other people!
As my birth was during the beginning of COVID, there were lots of online exercise opportunities available. Now, they are still available and becoming more popular as a way to exercise with bubs from home. The classes I found most helpful to keep up my fitness with the baby was a Physio Fit class that enrolled you based on a physio assessment to ascertain that your body was at a stage after birth ready for the physio exercises. There were also a few Mums with Bubs Yoga classes online too.
Another online class is called KangaTraining and is an aerobics class that includes having your baby attached to you in a carrier close to your body.
They were both great fun and didn't cost a lot or take a lot of time as they could be joined in your own home either at a time that suited or through joining a live class.
I'd always first check with my GP or physio before starting anything too strenuous so early on after giving birth, just in case.
While I can understand a mom's wish to get her body back to "normal", after only 4 weeks, mom's body is still healing whether she had a c-section or a natural birth. If she exercised throughout her pregnancy, she should be able to resume gentle low-impact exercise relatively soon after a natural complication-free birth, but after a c-section or if she was not too active during her pregnancy she may need to take things a little slower. Her obstetrician or midwife will be able to advise her best. It is also worth remembering that it can take up to 6 months after birth for hormones to stabilise, and so weight loss may be more difficult which can be incredibly frustrating. For some new moms, hormone imbalances or thyroid problems may cause weigh loss to stall and so these should be investigated if the weight is not shifting at all 6 months after baby's birth.
One "bonus" of breastfeeding is that weightless is often easier, so If she is breastfeeding, she should find that her weight will continue to normalise and she should consistently lose a large amount of her pregnancy weight. It may be worth reminding her that giving birth is bound to have altered her figure and that even if she gets back to her pre-pregnancy weight, she may be a different size or body-shape and this is perfectly normal.
Going for walks with baby is a great way to begin getting active again and it is also highly recommended to include postpartum pelvic floor exercises into any exercise routine to prevent later bladder control or pelvic floor weakness.
Dieting would not be a great idea at this stage though, as she will need to be taking in enough calories to provide her own body with energy and produce enough breast milk. Even a non-breastfeeding mom needs to be getting enough calories each day to make sure that they heal properly and have enough energy to take care of baby.
Being active within safe limits and getting some fresh air are great for both physical and mental well-being, but don't be too quick to start any diet or calorie restriction. After spending 9 months growing an entire new human being, you deserve to be gentle and kind to yourself.
I always loved the saying '9 months on and 9 months off', meaning that you shouldn't expect to lose the 'baby weight' immediately after birth. I have birthed 4 babies and found that many factors contributed to my weight loss afterwards. For the two babies i breastfed, I was super hungry and found it difficult to 'diet'. After one of my babies I had some mild post natal depression and that impacted my ability to eat well and exercise. I think its certainly a case by case determination.
The things i did enjoy were taking my baby (and other children) for walks to the park and attending play groups and kindergym activities because these involved much movement as I played with my kids. Whilst I tried to eat healthy, I was never strict about it and just aimed for lots of fruit, veggies and protein.
The amount of weight gained in pregnancy varies significantly from woman to woman so i think its really about finding what works best for each individual. The days, weeks and month after birth should be about bonding and being with your child so don't be too hard on yourself or expect to be at your post baby weight quickly. Oh.....and don't read magazines or look at Instagram of mothers who have 'bounced back' quickly after birth.....its not realistic and can be very depressing. Good Luck!