How to get back in shape after having a baby
By: Mackenzie Fox
Many women dislike the process of ‘getting their body back’ after pregnancy – a problem only exacerbated by the media’s lauding of celebrity mothers who instantly shed the pounds and go back to being flawless after childbirth. But here’s the secret: even celebrities don’t actually have it that easy! A ridiculous amount of pressure is placed on all women, famous or otherwise, to lose weight after having a child – and it’s ultimately damaging for everyone.
That isn’t to say, of course, that you shouldn’t work on losing weight after having a baby if it’s what you want to do. But it’s important to remember that celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Victoria Beckham also have access to many resources the average woman does not, such as personal trainers, personal dieticians, etc. Not to mention nannies to look after the newborn!
And in all honesty the steps celebrities take to shed the weight are not usually things promoted by doctors. After giving birth Victoria Beckham was allegedly barely eating and doing high-powered workouts in order to return her body to the thin state that everybody knew it for. That’s not good for a mother, and not good for a newborn child either.
Eating less food means that the breast milk provided for the baby will be deprived of important nutrients. Elizabeth Somer, author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, says that breastfeeding mothers “should be eating at least 1,800-2,000 calories a day while breastfeeding, and if you eat less you will not only be shortchanging yourself, you’ll be shortchanging your baby. You can’t produce quality milk if you are not eating enough.”
Okay, so how do you lose weight sensibly and healthily whilst also making sure your baby has everything it needs? Well, eating the right things is a good start. Eat three meals a day, as you should – just make sure the food is healthy. Fish is a good idea for mid-day meals, as it contains omega-3 fatty acids that can improve both your physical and mental health. (But, if you’re breastfeeding, avoid eating shark, swordfish and marlin. They contain high levels of mercury.) You should also be trying to get at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
Don’t forget to be drinking the right things, too. Drinking lots of water is a good idea, because it speeds up your metabolism. And you can drink alcohol whilst breastfeeding, as long as it’s a few hours before a feed. Just make sure you drink responsibly, which you should be doing anyway.
On to exercise – you shouldn’t be doing stressful workouts. The hormones your body produces during pregnancy can make your joints looser and your body more prone to injury. However, you should absolutely be doing gentle exercise like walking – this can help prevent blood clots and other post-pregnancy complications. Many new mothers like to take walks with their baby in a pushchair or a sling.
After about six weeks have passed, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to return to working out, if that’s what you want to do. Don’t forget that many places offer exercise classes specifically tailored for new mothers, ask at your local gym or community center!
For those really desperate to lose the baby weight right away, there is one more thing to consider – the form of plastic surgery known as the ‘mummy makeover’, which can include a tummy tuck, a breast life and liposuction. It can only be done under specific circumstances: candidates for the surgery should have reached a sensible weight, have stopped breastfeeding, should not be smoking, and (here’s the kicker) should not be considering any more children in the future. It’s certainly not for everyone, and people who want it should definitely discuss it with partners, their doctor etc before going ahead – but the option is there. Also, it’s important to highlight that some mummy makeovers are done for medical reasons.
Ultimately, though, many doctors agree that the key to losing baby weight is simply patience. Though many a new mother has wished to be more like Victoria Beckham, it’s simply not feasible for most of us (and probably took a considerable toll on her too.) Eat healthily, exercise gently, and you should soon find your body returning to its previous state again.