Sunday, 18 May 2014
When can I start to lose weight?
Your body needs time to recover from labour and birth. So wait until you've had your postnatal check with your GP before you consider losing weight. This is usually between six weeks and eight weeks after you've had your baby.
If you are also breastfeeding, you should wait until you and your baby have got the hang of it before you start to lose weight.
You'll need plenty of energy to adjust to life with your newborn. Starting too soon after giving birth may delay your recovery and make you feel even more tired.
How can I lose weight safely?
Eating healthily, and including plenty of fruit and vegetables in your meals and snacks, will speed your recovery from labour and birth. It will also give you the energy you need to keep up with the demands of being a new parent.
Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, you should aim to eat a healthy diet. Eating well will help you to feel better and help you to keep up your energy levels.
These tips will help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight:
Make time for breakfast in the morning.
Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Include plenty of fibre-rich foods such as oats, beans, lentils, grains and seeds in your meals.
Include starchy foods such as bread, rice and pasta (preferably wholegrain varieties for added fibre) in every meal.
Go easy on fatty and sugary foods, takeaways, fast food, sweets, cakes, biscuits, pastries and fizzy drinks.
Watch your portions at mealtimes, and the number and type of snacks you eat between meals.
Combining healthy eating with exercise will be the most effective, because it helps you to lose fat instead of lean tissue. You will also improve your fitness levels.
What exercise can I do?
Finding the time to fit exercise into your daily life, now that you have a newborn, can be tricky. But it's not impossible, as long as you make it a priority.
You can start to do some gentle exercise such as walking, pelvic floor exercises and stretching, as soon as you feel up to it. However, you should wait six weeks or so, or until you feel that you've recovered from the birth, before taking up more strenuous exercise.
Or you could exercise with your baby. Take your baby for walks in her pushchair, or try a pram-based exercise class. Find your nearest Buggyfit class here. Group classes are also a great way to meet other mums, and the fresh air may also help to lift your mood.
How many calories do I need?
How much you need to eat depends on your weight, how active you are, and whether or not you are breastfeeding.
It can be difficult to lose weight after having a baby, but try to lose the weight you gained during your pregnancy before you try for another baby. This is especially important if you were overweight to begin with, or if you gained a lot of weight during your pregnancy.
Even a small weight gain of one or two BMI units between pregnancies can increase the risk of complications in your next pregnancy. Complications include high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, as well as increasing your likelihood of giving birth to a big baby.
Losing the extra weight you've gained after you've had a baby may also help you to manage your weight in the longer term, and to keep the weight off.
Does breastfeeding affect weight loss?
If you're breastfeeding, you’ll need slightly more calories than if you are formula feeding your baby. You’ll need around an extra 330 calories a day to have the energy to produce milk. However, some of these additional energy needs will be met from your body’s existing fat stores.
This means that breastfeeding can help you lose weight if you combine it with eating healthily and regular exercise. There's also some research which suggests that breastfeeding may also help you to keep your weight off in the longer term.
It’s safe to lose weight when breastfeeding if you do it gradually. Losing between 0.5kg and 1kg (1lb to 2lbs) a week shouldn't affect the quality or supply of your milk, or your baby's growth. Losing weight gradually will also make it more likely to stay off.
When will my body be back to normal?
Give yourself plenty of time to get back in shape, and don't despair if the weight doesn't fall off immediately. Ignore stories of celebrities getting back into shape a few weeks after childbirth. Such quick weight loss is unrealistic for the average new mum, so take a more gradual approach.
Bear in mind that your body may change shape after pregnancy, and returning to your exact pre-pregnancy weight or shape may be difficult.
Look on your baby's first year as the time it takes you to safely return to your normal weight. As a rough guide, you shouldn't aim to return your pre-pregnancy weight until your baby is at least six months old. But it may take longer than this. One study showed that only about four out of 10 mums had lost their pregnancy weight by the time their babies were six months.
If you put on a lot of weight during your pregnancy, it will take longer to come off. If you'd like some help with losing weight, talk to your GP or health visitor about postnatal exercise or weight-management classes in your area.