New mothers are often getting disappointed and demotivated when they look at themselves in the mirror post pregnancy and worry about how much their body has had changed. Parenthetically, they fear their body would never be how it used to be before pregnancy. We need to move the needle on the awareness among women on the importance of postnatal health by creating awareness and canvassing support to help women achieve their fitness goals after childbirth.
There are several aspects that we shall look at pertaining to weight loss post pregnancy, namely, breastfeeding, the Diastasis Recti phenomenon, exercise and nutrition.
This is the best way to lose all the weight and it actually makes sense when you think about it; all the fat was stored throughout your pregnancy, is for you to then feed your baby after giving birth in the form of milk. During breast-feeding, focus on making healthy food choices. Consume whole grains, fruits and vegetables and stay hydrated.
As a case in point, studies that measured the effect of breastfeeding on weight loss (which regularly weighed and measured women post-birth) have concluded that after a year, mothers who breastfed had lost between 0.6kg and 2kg more weight than mothers who didn’t do so.
Being a breastfeeding mom, you will provide the best nutrition possible for your child and you will lose those extra pounds for yourself too!
#2: DIASTASIS RECTI
Diastasis recti occurs when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy leaving a gap, which results in abdominal weakness and hence causing a belly pouch. Different women would have different severity of abdominal separation post child birth, and to check for diastasis recti, there is a simple test.
1) Bend your knees and lie on your back.
2) Lift your head to about an angle of 20° from the ground, engaging your core muscles, with your back still lying straight on the ground.
3) Take your hand and use 3 fingers to press on your belly button; twist it around and see how much the fingers go in.
4) Most women would have about 1 to 2 finger width of abdominal separation.
With the desperation to lose the belly fat as quickly as possible, many mothers would inadvertently and unknowingly start with traditional ab exercises like crunches and planks which is actually counterproductive; it worsens the gap (the abdominal muscles that are already separated).
First and foremost, exercising to close up the gap is essential and to do so, you need to strengthen your pelvic floor and core muscles by performing mild exercises like pelvic lifts and heel drops.
In addition to exercises, wearing belly bandits or spanks may help bridge that gap while you recuperate.
If you decide to lose the excess weight as fast as possible and strap yourself for an intense workout routine from the beginning, it will result in dangerous outcomes and you will even end up with stretch marks due to fast weight loss. So, remember to go slow and let your body tune into the changes over time.
So, let’s say you have been exercising well, but you notice that the number on the weighing scale does not drop any further. This is not a cause for concern; all this means is that your body fat percentage is dropping and your muscles mass is increasing. Your weighing scale should not determine whether you are healthy or not; instead, you should be looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing how well your clothes fit you.
Remember to change up your exercise routine to continue progressing, which means you have to increase the weights, increase number of repetitions of exercise, increase the number of sets or introduce circuits with new and innovative workouts. Never let your body get used to a routine because things will get easier and you won’t see changes after a certain point (may seem like you have hit a plateau).
As new mothers, you would find it more difficult to lose weight as compared to younger girls who are not moms. This is because of two main factors: Lack of sleep and stress. Lack of sleep increases the hormone levels of Ghrelin which increases appetite and you might catch yourself eating unhealthy snacks often. Similarly, stress adds to weight loss struggle, especially around the belly area because the hormone levels of Cortisol increases, causing the body to hold onto fat.
Keep in mind not to stress over small matters; stay positive and happy. To tackle lack of sleep, take a nap whenever your baby is napping and that will be of great help. Having conquered the stress factor and lack of sleep will be half the battle won!
Getting into shape is not just about crashing the gym 4 times a week but it’s much more than that. Nutrition does 80% of the work and hence what you nourish yourself with is absolutely crucial to take note of.
Portion control is of paramount importance and this means ½ your plate should consist of vegetables, ¼ of it should be protein and the last quarter should be whole grains (carbohydrates). This standard model decreases calories consumption and increases fibre intake, while keeping you full. This should not be treated as a diet, but as a lifestyle, and that is what will keep you going.
In conclusion, to all the new mothers out there, don’t lose hope at any point in your fitness journey. Listen to your body, take it slow, and enjoy the process. Don’t look at it as a long and arduous journey, instead, take baby steps and celebrate every small short-term fitness goals that you achieve and continue pushing yourself.
If you have managed to give birth to child, how hard can losing a couple pounds be?
Author Bio: David Lim is a Private Tutor at ChampionTutor. And he is very willing to discuss how to live a stress-free life.