Nine Months: How to lose weight the healthy way as a new mother — through exercise and diet control
The need to lose weight immediately after delivery is a fad among young mothers, but it must be done with caution and after seeking a doctor's advice
A new mother enters a very different phase of her life with the birth of her little one. Apart from the presence of a bundle of joy that is in constant need of attention, this period also includes sleepless nights, unwanted advice on eating right for feeding right, and the weight gain that most of us want to shed in a hurry.
Getting back in shape has become a trend among new mothers. While it is possible to lose your pregnancy weight in the first 12 months, it is necessary to lose it in a healthy way without affecting your health and that of your baby. Breast feeding itself can make you lose up to 500 kcal per day, so half of your work is done. The remaining calories can be burnt by even going for a walk.
I have seen new mothers rush to the gym post their pregnancy. This is not needed, especially if you have never done it before. Take up an exercise routine which you followed before and during pregnancy, or take up something like walking, swimming, yoga, to avoid unnecessary stress. Splitting up your workout routine also helps.
However, along with exercise you also need to watch your diet. A new mother is stuck between two different views on post-pregnancy foods – the traditional view (eat a lot of ghee, panjiri, nachni porridge, bajri porridge etc) and the doctor’s view (control your calorie intake from the beginning). However, a combination of the two is the key to good health.
The first 40 days are very important for a new mother. This is the period when you are recovering from your pregnancy and delivery stress. This is also the time when your baby is drawing from your body's nutrients through breast milk. Traditional food like panjiri, which is made from ghee, dry fruits, coconut, ginger powder, turmeric, fennel seeds, lotus seeds and other ingredients should be consumed during this period. These foods also have medicinal benefits. They improve circulatory and lymphatic flow, as well as help in clearing the uterus and excess fluid from the mother’s body. Nachni and bajri are high in iron, which helps new mothers to make up for the blood lost during delivery. However, all these traditional foods are best consumed in small portions, since they are high in fat content.
I would suggest you should not count calories to lose post-pregnancy weight, but rather eat nutritious food. During pregnancy and after delivery, the mother is advised to increase her intake since she is eating for two. However, eating for two does not mean that you have to double the quantity of food. It means that you need to have more nutritious food to take care of yourself and your little one.
It is not as difficult as it sounds; avoid fried food and sweets. This will work wonders for your body. If you have a sweet tooth, indulge in natural sweeteners like dates, dried figs, watermelons and strawberries. You can of course cheat once in a while and feast on your favorite double chocolate chip muffin! However, remember that lack of sleep, high stress levels and the changed routine adversely affect your weight. So the healthier you eat, the more the chances of getting fit and feeling better.
New mothers who go through post-partum depression lose the motivation to stay healthy and end up putting on more weight. This, in turn, makes their depression worse. Not losing weight immediately is not a crime, and there is no reason to body shame yourself. Remember every person is unique. Staying healthy during and post pregnancy is completely dependent on how you adapt to and accept the changes in your body and in your life.
Follow these steps and enjoy a healthy post-pregnancy phase:
- Do not starve. Eat regularly.
- Maintain a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps.
- Accept the changes in your life to avoid stress.
- Start walking daily.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Set aside at least 10 minutes of ‘me time’ every day.
Meghna Joshi is a certified health coach and nutritionist. She is also the co-author of When You Are Done Expecting. Read more about her work on her website.