There are several health benefits associated with losing excess pregnancy weight. From shutterstock.com
When you have a newborn baby, your waistline may be the last thing on your mind. Yet women often feel pressured to lose their “baby weight” as quickly as they can after pregnancy.
It’s completely normal to have some weight left over at the end of pregnancy. This is due to the change in body composition to support the pregnancy.
Bouncing back to your pre-pregnancy weight immediately after giving birth is neither realistic nor recommended. Instead, taking a balanced approach to weight loss over several months will optimise a woman’s future health outcomes. Achieving a healthy weight after having a baby is also important if you’re planning on another in the future.
How quickly should I lose my pregnancy weight?
There are no set recommendations for how quickly you should return to your pre-pregnancy weight after having a baby. But it is important to lose your pregnancy weight at some point post pregnancy, so it is not carried through to your next pregnancy, or into later life.
Each woman’s weight loss experience will be slightly different. Most studies show women retain about 1-5.5 kilograms at 6-12 months after pregnancy. In our study we found three out of every four women retained some of their pregnancy weight six months after the birth, and one in three retained more than 5 kgs.
Very low energy diets or fad diets are not recommended during pregnancy nor immediately following birth. Trying to lose weight too fast can mean your food choices are less likely to provide a good balance of nutrients, which are needed while your body gets back to a non-pregnant state and for breastfeeding.
Health benefits of losing the baby weight
Weight gained in pregnancy is due to the growth of the baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, the uterus and changes in body tissues including the breast and fat stores – especially in the hips, back and thighs.
A few weeks after having your baby, this will generally include some extra fat tissue and breast tissue. Having some stored fat tissue at the end of pregnancy is nature’s way of making sure mothers have enough stored energy to support breastfeeding.
Losing this extra store of body fat in the first year following childbirth will help improve a woman’s future health trajectory.
One review looked at change in body weight between pregnancies and the relationship with health outcomes in the second pregnancy. Across 11 studies of 925,000 women, a major increase in body weight between pregnancies (equivalent to three extra units of BMI or 9kg) was associated with an 85% increased risk of having a large-for-gestational-age baby and a 50% greater risk of having a baby weighing more than 4 kgs.
Mothers who had gained this level of weight were three times more likely to develop gestational diabetes and 70% more likely to have a caesarean section.
In the same review, reducing weight between pregnancies was associated with a reduced risk of developing gestational diabetes and having an large-for-gestational-age baby. But there was also an increased risk of having a baby born small for gestational age.
Reducing weight 3-12 months after birth is also associated with lower heart disease risk factors. Weight gain during that time is associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Top tips for returning to your pre-pregnancy weight
Try to gain pregnancy weight within your recommended weight-gain target. One of the biggest predictors of not returning to your pre-pregnancy weight is gaining too much weight during pregnancy. There are different ways you can check your recommended weight gain target for pregnancy.
Be active. Exercise can help improve both mental and physical health after pregnancy. It can improve sleep, help reduce fatigue, improve your fitness and help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week. Begin by building up ten minute bursts of activity at a time. Start with slow, short and gentle exercise after childbirth, like walking, and gradually increase your duration, speed and intensity. It’s important to discuss returning to exercise after pregnancy with your doctor.
Focus on healthy eating. Women who improve both their eating and exercise habits are more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. The Eat-for-Health Calculator can give you an idea of what you should be eating after pregnancy.
Track your progress. After pregnancy, women who self-monitor their eating and exercise habits lose up to three times more weight. You can record your daily food and exercise levels in a diary, wear a pedometer to track your daily steps or use a heart rate monitor to track exercise intensity. You could also try mobile phone apps or other physical activity trackers.
Breastfeeding may help. When your body produces breast milk, it uses energy (around 2,620 kJ per day), which can come from the fat tissue stored during pregnancy, as well as the energy from food and drink you consume. Breastfeeding may help with weight loss, although it’s normal to feel more hungry when you’re breastfeeding. The key is to mostly eat healthy foods so your body then has to draw on its energy stores. Breastfeeding has lots of other benefits for you and your baby, so getting the support you need is important.
Start a conversation with your doctor. They can provide you with advice and support around weight loss, mental health and overall well-being in the period following your baby’s birth. They can also refer you to a dietitian or exercise specialist for individual nutrition and exercise support.
About The Author
Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle; Jenna Hollis, Conjoint Lecturer, University of Newcastle; Lisa Vincze, Lecturer, Community and Public Health Nutrition, Griffith University, and Siân Robinson, Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology, University of Southampton
The Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety Workbook: Practical Skills to Help You Overcome Anxiety, Worry, Panic Attacks, Obsessions, and Compulsions (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
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"How I wish I'd had this book when I suffered from postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder! Pregnant and postpartum moms need to know that perinatal anxiety disorders are common and treatable, and that there's no need to continue suffering."
––Katherine Stone, editor of Postpartum Progress
What if my baby isn't healthy?
What if I can't handle the pain of labor?
What if I'm not a good mother?
If you have these thoughts, you're not alone. Anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum is much more common than many people know, and yet there are so few resources available to struggling new moms. If you're one of many women suffering from this treatable condition, The Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety Workbook offers powerful strategies grounded in evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you control your worry, panic, and anxiety.
Through a series of simple exercises and worksheets, you'll learn skills for relaxing yourself when you feel the most stressed. You'll also learn strategies that are proven-effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of anxious feelings many pregnant women and mothers of infants face. The book also includes a chapter that offers tips to help fathers understand and support their partners.
Many new parents feel anxious, and it's perfectly natural to have some fears during and after pregnancy. The problem is, anxiety can grow, disrupting your daily life and keeping you from enjoying being a parent. This effective workbook can help you keep your anxious thoughts at bay and get back to the positive thinking you've been missing.
The Post-Pregnancy Handbook: The Only Book That Tells What the First Year After Childbirth Is Really All About---Physically, Emotionally, Sexually
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While a number of books exist which deal with various aspects of the postnatal experience - breastfeeding, exercise, motherhood, post-partum depression - this is the first complete source of information on what a woman experiences both physically and emotionally in the days, weeks and months after childbirth. It is also the only book in its field which balances medical advice with practical tips and numerous references to alternative remedies. From Sylvia Brown, a mother, and Mary Dowd Struck, RN,MS,CNM, a nurse/midwife, comes The Post-Pregnancy Handbook, a wonderfully comprehensive, honest self-help guide which every new (and repeat) mother should keep by her bedside. Brown and Struck give detailed guidance on:
The First Few Days
- alleviating discomfort from the after-effects of labor or a ceasarian
- making the hospital stay more pleasant
- coping with possible medical complications
The First Few Weeks
- organizing home life with a new baby
- surviving fatigue
- breastfeeding successfully
- managing older siblings, parents and friends
- introducing a new dimension to the couple (returning to sex after childbirth)
- navigating the new mother's dietary needs
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The First Year
- achieving a complete physical recovery: how to get back into shape from the inside out
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A thorough, straightforward guide to helping the new mother achieve an effective and harmonious recovery.
Post Pregnancy Diet: The Secret Recipes For New Mom (Lactation Recipes For Breastfeeding Mothers & Much,Much More..) (New Mother's Guide Book 1)
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If you are a new mom and want to restore your health, energy, mind and beauty in 30 days then this Amazon Bestseller's Post Pregnancy Diet is for you ,..
Giving birth and being a new mother is the most exhausting experience for most women.
Following the trauma and pain of delivery, the immediate new responsibility of taking care of the baby leaves little time for the mother to rest and recover.
A new mother’s body is like a sponge at this time and absorbs whatever nutrients it can get. There could be many complications after giving birth if the new mother does not take care of herself. Postpartum haemorrhage, postpartum depression and fatigue are just a few common problems. .
Going on a diet too soon to lose weight could increase the chance of having complications and weaken the body’s constitution further, which could result in serious health problems for the woman in her later years. It is time that the woman's body goes through enormous changes. The body is at its weakest and the woman can easily fall ill. Also during this vulnerable period, much care should be taken to replenish lost nutrients and repair wear.
There are many books, which emphasize what a pregnant woman should or shouldn’t do.But there are just not enough books with information about how a new mother should look after herself. In particular, little has been shared about what her nutritional needs are, what food to eat, how to prepare it, and how to strengthen her body after the child is born. .
A good post pregnancy diet and nutrition plan during this period cannot be overemphasized.
Every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this guide. Besides checking against published sources, the author took the effort to speak to or interview the gurus and experts in their respective fields and had them verify the information provided in this book.
Here Is A Preview Of What You'll Learn... ...
- How the diet help to restore your health, energy, mind and beauty in 30 days
- What special ingredients to use which increase your immune system to fight against illnesses
- What are the secret tips to make the food more nutritious and delicious
- How to prepare the secret recipes to increase your milk production for breastfeeding moms
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This is a book for all recovering new mothers and the people who care for them.
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