You are a warrior, you are a fighter – You are a MOM!
The act of having successfully grown and given birth to a full-fledged human being is undoubtedly overwhelming. You have trodden every path with the utmost concern for yourself and the baby’s health.
Every morsel of food you put in your body and every decision you took during the past 40 weeks have been riddled with apprehensions. With the baby’s coming, a lot of those responsibilities might have decreased. But still, you need to care for your body because it is still recuperating from a massive chain of transformations.
One of the ways you can ensure a healthy recuperation is through healthy loss of those extra pregnancy pounds.
Pregnancy and motherhood, sweet as they may sound, come along with their own set of worries. And getting back to shape just got added to the list of “one of those things all moms have to do”.
But, keeping aside the increased need to look like a runway model, losing those pesky pregnancy pounds should be on your to-do list.
And science has a very good explanation for it.
Why is important to shed those pregnancy pounds?
During the gestational period, you need to consume more nutrition and healthy calories.
Once the baby comes, you still have those extra padding of nutrition (read, fats) accumulated in the body. Now you might be highly motivated to shed those pounds since you want to return to the glorious days of “slim-hood”.
But what should be the real reason behind shedding those kilos?
You need to understand the science behind this so that you employ healthy techniques for losing weight.
Studies strongly indicate that if the pregnancy pounds linger in your body for long, there are high chances these will become a permanent part of your physique.
Such extra weight accumulation is bad news for your health. It gives rise to many chronic ailments in women such as cardiac illnesses and even diabetes.
It is especially harmful to you if you are planning on having more children.
Gestational diabetes and hypertension are the most commonly prevalent conditions. These pose a serious threat to the health of the mother and the future baby.
Now that you know the real reason why losing weight should be a top priority for you, let us see how you can effectively achieve it in a calm and healthy manner.
1. A miracle that is breastfeeding
Just like childbirth, breastfeeding is one of Mother Nature’s miracles crucial to the growth and sustenance of our species. This sole source of nutrition for babies is packed with immunity-boosting substances. Not only that, it provides the baby a lifelong protection against many fatal forms of cancer.
Studies indicate that kids who were breastfed for a longer duration of time reported having higher IQ and better grades in school.
But did you know that breastfeeding has increasing health benefits for the mom too? On an average, breastfeeding burns 330 calories per day. For many women, it can be as high as 600 to 800 calories per day.
This is almost equal to running for 45 minutes on a treadmill at speed of 10mph.
And that is huge!
Things to remember
- Breastfeeding, when done for more than 6 months, aids in natural weight loss.
- Don’t restrict your diet to anything less than 1600-1800 calories per day.
- Avoid any form of quick-fix diet to lose weight fast during breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding alone shouldn’t be considered as a weight loss technique.
- Once breastfeeding period is over, gradually cut down calories from the diet. Now your body will not require so many extra calories.
2. Crash diets – A big no-no
It is easy to get swayed by the pictures of moms who revert to their former size-0 figures as soon as they are out of the ER. Don’t even consider that option for yourself.
Think about it, how many days did it take for you to gain all that weight- 9 months, right? Expecting to lose all of it within few weeks or months is an exercise in gross ignorance and foolishness.
Your body needs time to heal and rejuvenate after the childbirth. The internet is teeming with countless “quick-fix” diets by self-proclaimed experts in the field of maternal nutrition.
And yes, there are throngs of gullible new-parents who fall victims to such aggrandized claims.
But are these crash diets good for you? No!
Crash diets send our bodies in a nutrition-deficit state. They slow our metabolism and increase our tendency of accumulating fats. Long-term crash diets can have serious repercussions on your cardiovascular health.
What does it mean for you, as a new mom?
It means that any sudden change in diet can decrease the quality of your breast-milk and is counter-productive to your weight loss plan. By keeping yourself deprived of your favorite treats, you add more to the already existing stress (cortisol alert!!).
And that is a bad news.
So, when it comes to losing pregnancy weight, a gradual and healthy approach beats any fad-diet available on the internet.
Things to remember
- A rapid weight loss after childbirth can cause a build-up of toxins in your body.
- Sudden changes in the diet increase stress levels which will make you crave for unhealthy, sugar-rich treats.
- By no means, you should skip any meals.
- Crash diets generally cause loss of muscle mass rather than loss of fats.
- Quick-fix diets leave you drained out of energy.
3. Say yes to Superfoods!
Being a new mom can leave you seriously exhausted and sleep-deprived. Not to mention the hormonal shifts wreaking havoc with your emotions and internal body clock.
To power your way through sleepless nights and a uterus which is in the delicate state of healing – you need superpowers. And the ultimate source of these superpowers comes from feeding yourself with nutrition-dense “superfoods”.
Yes, you heard it right.
Eat more, if you must, but plan your diet intelligently so that you are consuming healthy calories in a controlled manner rather than binging on empty calories just because “mommy needs a treat”.
Healthy calories are foods which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other much-needed nutrients.
Empty calories are devoid of these and are dense with saturated fats and sugar.
While an avocado might have the same amount of calories as few Dorito chips, we all know which the healthier option is.
So instead of succumbing to cravings for pastries and cookies try to snack on fresh fruits and vegetables which are loaded with nutrition.
Things to remember
- Include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
- Get your daily proteins from fish, poultry, and legumes.
- You needn’t drink full-fat milk to produce more breast-milk. Opt for skim milk.
- Nuts and dry fruits are great options for those mid-day hunger pangs.
- Eggs, carrots, apples, and home-made peanut butter are great for snacking.
- Eat more of fish which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Instead of 3 big meals- divide your daily food intake into 6 smaller meals to keep your metabolism up and running.
- Decrease the intake of processed sugar since placental hormones are insulin-resistant.
4. Walking, yoga, aerobics – Yes to all!
This is a relative no-brainer. We know you are massively sleep-deprived and emotionally overwhelmed. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up on physical exercises altogether.
If you are planning on shedding those extra pounds (which you should), don’t compromise with your health and energy levels.
But before jumping into any extensive (or light) exercise routine, wait for 6 weeks post the childbirth. Those who have undergone C-section might have to wait even longer.
Go out and take a walk around the block.
Get some fresh air.
Even take your baby in a stroller.
But get moving.
Gradually start increasing the intensity and the distance till you don’t feel dizzy and uneasy. Make sure that these steps are done gradually and steadily. Once you get accustomed to the physical movements, try increasing it to at least 100-150 minutes per week. Include few bursts of brisk walking to increase your heartbeat.
Along with walking you can include weight-training in your exercising routine, just be careful of not over-doing it.
Pilates is great for gaining strength in your pelvic floor muscles and abdomen region.
Pilates impact the abdominal region lesser compared to jogging or running and are especially suited for new moms.
And don’t forget Kegels as they help you deal with bladder incontinence that is usually seen in women post-pregnancy.
Lastly, Yoga provides the most holistic form of rejuvenation and post-partum weight loss without putting you at any health risk.
Things to remember
- Until you get clearance from your doctor, don’t try any exercise routine by yourself.
- Don’t try to rush things. It can seriously damage your body. Be gradual with your exercise routine.
- Pelvic floor muscles need extra attention. Practice Pilates and Kegels.
- Stop the moment you feel nauseated, dizzy, or any form of pain.
- Abdominal crunches should be avoided.
5. De-stress to drop those pounds
Stress is an inevitability of pregnancy and early motherhood.
Deep down stress plays havoc with your post-pregnancy body. Any stressful event triggers two distinct hormones in our bodies- adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones, cortisol to be more specific, cause our body to store more and more energy in form of fats. They also tell our brain that we are in a phase of starvation.
The result- you crave more food (such as candies, cakes, and other comfort foods) since binging on those will make us feel better.
The consequence of this stress-hunger-binge eat cycle is that it makes you consume more of empty calories and drive your weight-check out of control.
To successfully fight weight-gain post-pregnancy, it is imperative to keep your stress levels to a minimum.
Things to remember
- Exercising and meditation are known to release serotonin (the “feel good” hormones) which directly cut back stress.
- Don’t stress out too much if you are not losing weight. Be patient, you will get there.
- Treat yourself to spas and few portions of your favorite foods once in a while.
- Take out some “me” time from your everyday schedule. Do things which make you happy.
- Involve your partner and other family members in taking care of the baby; don’t try to load up everything on yourself.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Get ample amount of rest.
- Sleep deprivation can leave you largely stressed out and full of unhealthy food cravings.
Having a balanced approach to pregnancy and healthy lifestyle will ensure that you don’t put your body in any kind of turmoil. Food, diet, sleeping patterns, and remaining stress-free have a major influence on well you bounce back to normal weight.
Unhealthy food choices, such as high-sugar consumption, can spell disaster on your changing body.
Make sure that your diet and lifestyle is focused more on improving your health rather than a race to shed those pounds. Healthy changes to lifestyle will ensure that you don’t gain back those pounds again.
And yes, happy motherhood to you!
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