Following on from Putting on Weight in Pregnancy, explaining how much goes on, I figured it might be helpful to give you some pointers on actually losing weight after pregnancy. Not all your pregnancy weight gain was fat, but once all those extras have gone and your body no longer needs those extra maternal fat stores… the rest is. 🙁
If we were to believe the celebrity magazines, we’d think that losing baby weight was something you do in, oh, what, a couple of weeks? Well, I suppose if you had at least 2 personal trainers, perfectly calorie-counted meals delivered to your door, nannies, time for 2-3 hour daily workouts… blah blah, then so could you. But hey.
So, back to our world. Your pregnancy weight took 9 months to go on, so first things first, give yourself a break. Whatever kind of birth experience you had (and as far as I’m aware, ‘easy’ isn’t even a category) then that birthing thing is a traumatic process at the best of times, and your body needs to recover.
But there are some things you can do literally as soon as you think of them after giving birth. Don’t panic, I’m talking about breathing (which you’ve got to do anyway, right? So you might as well do it in a way that will find your tummy muscles).
Full, deep breathing will relax and restore you, as well as start to make you aware of your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Lying on your back with chin gently dropped, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, establish a comfortable rhythm of breathing. As you fully exhale, gently draw your belly button back towards your spine, feel your belly hollow and your lower back press into the floor as your pelvis tilts slightly. At the same time consciously draw your pelvic floor muscles in and up. As you breathe in, let everything relax as your lungs fill with air and your belly expands. Repeat a few times.
If you had a vaginal birth, your may not be able to feel much happening in your pelvic floor. And if you had a c-section, the ‘belly button to spine’ cue probably won’t register. But just do what you can and done daily, over a few weeks this process will help to repair nerve pathways and engage the right muscles.
I want to know how to lose my pregnancy weight, and she’s telling me how to BREATHE?
Yep. Because if you don’t find the right muscles, you’ll struggle to start exercising at all because you’ll have no core strength, you’ll get back ache and may injure yourself. Bootcamp for new mums? Please don’t. Not until you’ve repaired everything ‘in there’ first!
Don’t do anything more than a daily walk and the above pelvic floor / abdominal breathing and pelvic tilt until 6 weeks (natural birth) or 10 weeks (c-scetion) postnatal. Then gradually up the ante with both cardio and resistance exercise that realigns your posture, and strengthens and tones as you lose the fat.
That means gradually progressing your workouts so you’re exercising intensively 3-5 times a week for at least 15 (yes, just 15) minutes at a time. In order to make a real difference to your body shape and lose your excess pregnancy weight you’ll need to work quite intensively, but the good news is that interval training (workout video for you here!) is very effective so you don’t need very long!
Start low impact (no jumping) and listen to your body. Stop if you feel out of breath or dizzy and don’t go mad. Wear a well fitting sportsbra (I used 2 bras at the same time when I was breastfeeding!) and supportive trainers. REST when you need to and don’t work out every day. If you manage a brisk daily walk and your breathing / abdominal exercises every day in those early months, in my view you’ve done well!
Food-wise – don’t “diet”, especially when you’re breastfeeding. Eat real, fresh, unprocessed food that will nourish and restore your body, as well as feed your baby. You need about 500 extra calories whilst breastfeeding, but remember that your little one will not benefit from latte and muffin calories any more than your waistline will! Plenty more on how to eat to lose your mummy tummy and stay healthy here.
How long will it take? Sorry, its that ‘how long is a piece of string’ question again… You can lose your baby weight in 12 weeks if you’re dedicated enough. And you’d be perfectly normal if it took 6, 9 months or more. You are juggling a baby, wildly fluctuating hormones, extreme tiredness, an emotional rollercoaster, possibly other children as well… and well, “life!”
So hold on to a little self love and TLC too.
But the important thing to remember in the ‘great lose the pregnancy weight’ debate… is that it CAN be done, it is perfectly possible, but you should remember that a woman’s body which has had babies (however long ago she had them) is NOT just like everyone else once she is no longer classed as ‘postnatal’. Your posture, core abdominal muscles, pelvic floor and areas of strength, weakness and special attention are DIFFERENT, and should be treated as such. And it totally, honestly, definitely CAN look gorgeous again.
How long did it take to lose yours? Or are you still thinking about losing your baby weight after the school run is well underway?!