One of the greatest conundrums faced by new mums, is the riddle of how to lose weight after their pregnancy. Nine months of housing a brand new baby in one’s body (not to mention eating all those extra calories) is bound to take its toll, and usually it takes more than a while to get back into shape and rediscover one’s body again.
THIS IS NORMAL. No, it’s not just you, you are not alone and you are not taking ‘too long’ about it. Your body needs time to adapt to the changes it has gone through and it will take as long as it needs. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to speed up the process, as long as you are careful.
No matter how eager you are to lose your baby fat, experts caution against any activities that put major stress on your joints – such as jogging, jumping, or running – for at least six to eight weeks. This is because during pregnancy, women produce a hormone called relaxin, which actually makes joints loose and consequently more prone to injury. Since after childbirth, relaxin is still present in the blood, it then takes several weeks for it to return to its usual and normal levels.
It is very important to check with one’s doctor before starting not only any kind of strenuous extra bodily activity, but also any kind of diet, especially if you had a complicated pregnancy or delivery. That said, most experts agree that you are free to begin a mild workout, as soon as you feel up to it.
Dieting should be strictly off limits for the first six to eight weeks, especially if you are still breast-feeding. Not only does your body need the nutrients to recover from the delivery and fend off illnesses and infections, but if you diet, you might start losing those important hormones which should be passed on to the child through your milk. We should also mention that your body will start to produce less milk.
Again, check with your doctor before stopping any calorie intake, and do not measure your own diet or exercise regime by comparing it to anyone else’s! Every woman has a different body and goes through the experience of pregnancy differently. Your diet will depend on your BMI before pregnancy, your activity level, as well as the weight you have gained.
Some advocate the use of belly-binders, in order to tuck in that tummy. Belly-binding is an old practice rooted in deep tradition. In Japan and the Middle East, is it normal for women to wear a compressing wrap or corset to speed up their return to their pre-pregnancy bodies.
This practice has been popularised in the west when celebrities, such as Jessica Alba and Angelina Jolie started to attribute their rapid return to shape to their use of expensive cinchers and wraps. These belly-binders are said to reduce swelling and stretch marks and support the spine, as well as ‘knitting’ abdominal muscles back together.
While it is true that shapewear can compress some lumps and bumps, obstetricians and experts maintain that such binders present risks, as they can cause incontinence, digestion problems and actually weaken the abdominal muscles, since these would become lax and ‘lazy’ during that period when the binder is supporting them, as they would not be doing their function.
The fact remains that after giving birth, a woman’s uterus is enlarged and needs time to get back to normal. This is not, as we might think, just fat, but actually the stretched abdominal wall which needs to get back to its original shape after being extended during pregnancy. Putting pressure and compressing it would therefore do more damage than good.
Baby fat, as with any kind of fat, is distributed throughout the whole body – your butt would be bigger as would your thighs and arms, not just your belly and this is why professionals insist that breast-feeding, a healthy diet, as well as specific exercises approved by your doctor, are the best way to get your body back to the way it was (or almost).
Women who are or were pregnant should not be hidden away or feel guilty about their bodies. They should be happy and proud of their achievement and take the time to heal and recuperate naturally, albeit with a little effort on their part. After all, ‘Fortune helps those who help themselves!’