Post-pregnancy: Get back into shape
December 5, 2006 11:21am CST
A concerning survey by Mother and Baby magazine found that only three per cent of new mothers were happy with their body shape. Straight after you give birth, your stomach area is not toned due to the extra skin stretched from pregnancy. The breasts also take on a different shape as they fill with milk. However, you should resist the urge to shed weight immediately. You’ve just accomplished a strenuous, nutritionally draining feat! Here are some tips: Recovery period Wait six weeks or so to give your body some time to recover from labour and birth before you even think about slimming. After all, you will be about 12lb (5.5kg) lighter straight after the birth! Often fitness instructors won’t take on women until they’ve had their six week postnatal check up at their hospital. Also, if women have had a caesarean, it’ll mean they will have to wait longer before embarking on physical activity. Be realistic and give it time Not all of us can have personal trainers and dieticians to help slim down. It sounds obvious but remember that your body changes shape during pregnancy. It may be difficult to return to your exact pre-pregnancy weight. You should be prepared for weight loss to take between 10 months and a year. If you had a caesarean it could take longer still. Do NOT go on a strict diet The first few months of motherhood are hectic, so make sure you eat a variety of foods that will give you the fuel and nutrients needed to keep you going as long as your baby. Rapid weight loss can pose a danger to your baby because it releases toxins - normally stored in your body fat - into the bloodstream, increasing the amount of these contaminants that wind up in your milk. It could influence lactation, meaning the amount of milk they’re producing may reduce. The good news is extra fat laid down in pregnancy is used to make breast milk, so breastfeeding will help you get back into shape quicker. What to eat Include the following in your diet: Plenty of fruit and vegetables. Starchy foods such as bread and pasta for energy. Fibre, found in wholegrain bread and cereals to help with bowel problems. Also include protein such as lean meat and chicken, and fish at least twice a week. Dairy foods for essential calcium. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Take a supplement of 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D each day. Avoid If breastfeeding do not eat oily fish more than twice a week. Fish like tuna has high levels of mercury. Restrict fat and sugar. If you are physically active, the pounds should gradually drop off. Exercise women should return gradually to exercise after they give birth. Postnatally, a woman’s body strength and stamina is actually very different to how it was before they were pregnant. As their fitness level is a lot lower, it’s best to ease into exercise gently by enrolling on a specific postnatal exercise class.