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If you’re like most new moms, you’re eager to put away your maternity clothes and slip into your old jeans. But if there’s one thing new moms know, it’s that achieving a healthy weight post-baby can be a struggle. It can be stressful taking care of a newborn, adjusting to a new routine, and recovering from childbirth. It’s a lot to deal with.
At the same time it is important to return to a healthy weight after delivery. In this article, we will discuss some effective strategies and tips to help you achieve a healthy postpartum weight so you can take on parenthood with the energy you will need to keep up with your growing baby.
It’s helpful to understand what the weight gain during pregnancy is. Pregnancy weight gain usually consists of:
The extra fat acts as an energy reserve for the birth and breastfeeding. But excess weight gain during pregnancy due to an uncontrolled diet can result in gaining too much fat.
This is what is typically referred to as “baby weight” and most moms experience this.
Many pregnant women gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.
You normally realise this after delivery when you find that you weigh a lot more than you did pre-pregnancy.
This is understandable to a degree as during pregnancy you will experience increased appetite. But it is easy to get carried away with the ‘eating for two’ line of thinking and it results in simply overeating a lot of the time. Over a few months this can result in putting on a lot of extra weight.
This weight will not go away automatically or through breastfeeding your baby.
You will need to actively focus on losing this excess weight postpartum. This is important because the longer this weight remains, the higher the chances of it causing health problems such as:
For many new mothers, there is a strong desire to lose the baby weight. But it is important to remember that you also need to nourish your body with the right foods to support recovery, milk production, rest, and all the other tasks required to get through the busy day.
This is where new moms need to be careful about how they go about their weight loss diet after delivery. You will see many diets online and some are outright harmful for new moms. Many are ‘crash diets’ which are very low calorie diets and aim to make you lose a large amount of weight in the shortest amount of time possible.
After delivering a baby, your body needs good nutrition to heal and recover. In addition, if you are breastfeeding, you typically require more calories than normal.
A low calorie diet is likely to be lacking in important nutrients and will probably leave you feeling tired. This is the opposite of what you need when you are taking care of a newborn, and when you’re also likely sleep-deprived.
The same is true of a low-carb diet that reduces overall carbohydrate intake by a lot. This is not a good idea postpartum. Carbohydrates are very important for new moms. This is essential not just for breast milk production, but also for mental health, hormone regulation and more.
Women’s bodies are very sensitive to energy (food) intake, and low-carb diets can in many cases cause health and hormone problems.
The good news is that it is possible to slowly shed the excess weight while still eating enough food to keep up with the physical and mental demands of looking after your little one. The key is to have a structured plan and be patient.
Despite what social media and celebrity stories will say, losing weight after pregnancy takes time. This is true whether you had a natural delivery or a C-section. During pregnancy, fat is accumulated in different places in your body, especially around the midsection, hips and thighs.
All of this happens for a good reason – to ensure that you have enough nutrition to keep the baby healthy.
Your body takes no chances here: more energy stores are a good thing for the baby. For you, that means more fat storage than you might like. Some of this will reduce after delivery, but most will find that there is still a long way to go.
The most important thing is to be realistic about how fast you will lose this weight.
This will depend on how much weight you gained during pregnancy. Of course, with a good eating plan and exercise, you should be able to achieve a healthy level of weight loss.
Here are some tips to help you reduce weight after delivery naturally.
Tip 1: Pay attention to your plate
It’s easy to get carried away with the ‘eating for two’ line of thinking. And once those habits sink in, it can be quite hard to stop. If you’re still breastfeeding and/or under the supervision of your gynaecologist/midwife/doctor, then please follow their guidance. If not:
It’s time to get back to ‘eating for one’.
Here are some simple guidelines:
This is not the time to try crash dieting or follow a very restrictive diet. However, this is not an excuse to binge-eat or eat poor quality foods either. You need to practice eating a healthy plate.
Tip 2: Resume physical activity / workouts to lose weight after delivery
Start with targeted exercises. Strengthen your pelvic floor since it tends to be the weakest area post-delivery. Kegels are the easiest to start with as part of your exercise routine to lose weight after delivery.
Your next focus should be to strengthen your core muscles and joints before starting any high impact exercise like running/aerobics or lifting weights. You could even try Post Natal Yoga or strength training classes if you need a routine to start with.
Ease into your exercise routine gently and slowly.
Even if you were a super fit mom before your delivery, don’t jump in immediately into a rigorous workout schedule, since most new moms tend to be hypermobile. Strenuous exercise could make things worse like causing lower back pain and joint injuries. So, be aware of all muscle pulls, aches, niggles and any other signs of discomfort and deal with them before they become a problem.
Check with your physician before you start any physical activity especially if you’ve had a C-Section. A good 30-45 mins of focussed activity everyday is a good goal to have with respect to exercise.
Plan for it based on your baby’s schedule and block that time. It will not happen otherwise.
Tip 3: Be patient and realistic
It has taken 40 weeks for your body to prepare for childbirth and it may take equally long to get back to where you were earlier. Most new mothers may lose up to 2 kgs every month with a balanced diet, moderate exercise and enough rest.
Take it slow and enjoy this time, eat sensibly and rest whenever you need to. Start thinking of a structured approach to your fitness regimen and diet.
Like your little one, take baby steps.
The results will follow.
Tip 4: Sleep is hard but fight for it
It is very important to prioritise sleep now more than ever in order to restore your health.
For a good night’s sleep, avoid watching television or using any other gadgets for at least 30 minutes before your bed time. Good sleep hygiene is essential to wind down properly and get a good night’s sleep.
Yes, it can be hard to get a continuous full night’s sleep with a little baby who might wake you up at intervals, so plan for a nap whenever possible. Even a 20-30 minute nap in the afternoons can go a long way in restoring your energy levels. So, don’t try to be super-productive all the time, instead focus on your rest.
Tip 5: Practice some self-care and have fun
Eating a healthy postpartum diet is important to recover from pregnancy and childbirth and also for losing weight. But before you make any big changes to your current diet, take some time to just enjoy the gift of being a new mom.
Allow enough room to recover and be kind to yourself.
Don’t stress about weight loss. Fun is very important.
Take time to watch some TV or read something that you love. Spend time with your spouse. This will help in calming the mind, lowering stress hormones in your body and magically, your metabolism starts improving.
Practice these 5 steps with trust. Slowly and steadily you‘ll see yourself fitting into that pair of jeans again!
One more thing….
Do not use random internet advice.
As a mother, your instincts are now finely tuned to what is good for you and your body. Follow your gut and keep it simple.
It does take a lot of courage to become a mom. And isn’t it amazing that you’ve just created magic by bringing another life into this world? So, respect and appreciate your body and feel special. Because you are.
Being a new parent can be a daunting role and a lot of work. Sleep deprivation and stress can be overwhelming, and many new mothers also experience postpartum depression.
While losing weight and achieving a healthy weight after delivery is important, it should not add undue stress and anxiety. Make small changes that you can maintain in the long run.
If you are feeling depressed or anxious, or you’re simply struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Ask friends and family for help around the house, preparing meals, or taking care of the baby for a few hours to allow you to rest or get some exercise.
The following foods are common in Indian cooking and will help you with eating a healthy diet that covers the five food groups:
Green leafy vegetables
We are lucky to have so many types of spinach (palak or keerai) in India. They are available year-round and can be used in many ways. They are some of the most nutritious foods in the Indian diet. We also have some unique vegetables in Indian cooking like drumstick, snakegourd, ash gourd, bottle gourd, as well as varieties of green beans like flat beans, string beans etc. While it can take a little effort to prepare them, the health benefits are worth it.
Lentils and legumes
We have a number of varieties of dal, sprouts, channa and rajma. They are nutritious, filling and a good source of protein. You can use them in meals and also as a snack.
We are blessed to have a huge variety of fruits in India throughout the year. Mango, jackfruit, watermelon, sitaphal and chikoo are some examples. In addition, we get many varieties of banana, orange, papaya etc throughout the year. Use these fruits as your main snack. Eat the fruit, not the juice. Chewing food helps your brain realize you are full. Drinking juice does not have the same effect.
Use Indian fats like ghee, coconut oil, sesame oil in your cooking in small amounts. You can also include a small quantity of nuts like almonds and walnuts occasionally. They’re good for health and add flavor to your food. Adding a little fat is important to make the meal satisfying.
Milk and milk products are an excellent source of nutrients, including protein and good fats. You can use milk, buttermilk, curd, hung curd, butter, ghee and paneer in your healthy eating plan in moderate amounts.
Instead of oily or sugary options, pick light snacks like puffed rice and makhana. They mostly contain air anyway! So they will help you snack in a light way and help you with your weight loss diet plan.
Healthy gut bacteria play an important role in maintaining good health. Indian cuisine has many probiotic foods that are made via fermentation. For example idli, dosa, dhokla, curd, kanji, chaas, chilra and koozhu. Try to include some fermented foods in your daily diet. Homemade yogurt is the simplest example of this. The greater the variety of these foods in your diet, the better.
Idli, chutney & sambhar
Indian herbs and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, clove, cumin, coriander, curry leaves etc provide numerous health benefits and add flavour to your food as well. So they are an important part of a healthy Indian diet plan. They are helpful not just in Indian dishes but also when making salads and soups. You can use spice mixes as seasonings for salads, sprouts and soups to make them tasty and something you will want to have often.
When your goal is to achieve a healthy weight after delivery, you need to be laser-focussed on what will help with that goal and what will not.
Foods to limit fall in 3 categories:
Foods to limit: sugary, oily & junk.
Here are some examples of such foods:
It is impossible to have a full list but hopefully you have understood the logic – foods that offer little nutrition but contain a lot of calories.
What you eat during pregnancy and after (if you are breastfeeding) is also passed on to your baby, so eating foods of a high quality and limiting poor-quality foods is important.
Take a look at our article on Diet Plans for weight loss for women. We’ve provided a number of ideas & tips and also a 1-week meal plan that you can use as a start point for your weight loss plan after delivery.
Weight gain after delivery is very common and not something to get depressed about. Your body did something amazing. But getting back into a healthy weight range is a good thing for your health and any future pregnancies, so it’s definitely worth putting effort into.
The most sustainable way to lose weight after delivery is through a balanced diet, regular exercise and good sleep habits. Be kind to yourself as you accept the changes in your body. Most importantly, take pride in your healthy lifestyle.
We’ve worked with hundreds of women and understand the unique challenges they face when trying to lose weight or find a weight loss diet plan. You can see some of our success stories here.
We’ve coached many new moms in our coaching program, like Poornima who put in the effort and saw the results – she lost 8kgs and went from a size L to XS.
Poornima,before & after Daily9
The Daily9 system is proven to work as an effective weight loss diet plan. Women coaches at Daily9 have developed practical ideas and strategies that work in real life and improve the weight loss that women achieve with Daily9. This helps with weight loss and also many health conditions that Indian women face like digestive issues, diabetes, PCOS, thyroid, fatty liver and joint problems from excess weight.
While there are many calorie counters out there, we believe that a focus on quality & nutrition (and not just calories) is critical for any weight loss diet plan. Instead of tracking calories, we believe in tracking healthy habits at Daily9.
Most importantly, theDaily9 system is practical and suits an Indian family environment. This will set you up for success with weight loss and also weight maintenance in the long run.
If you’re looking for a scientific and practical approach to weight loss, take a look at theDaily9 coaching programme. It’s the only programme that helps with weight loss and weight maintenance.
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