“Life would never be the same again. Welcome to motherhood,” wrote one of my dear friends when I became a mom previous month. To be honest, the statement brought excitement and fear simultaneously. I have been experiencing changes physically, emotionally and mentally since the time I conceived. I am aware things will fall in place slowly but losing pregnancy weight seems like a daunting task. So I turned to fitness expert, Luke Coutinho (MD Alternative Medicine & Founder Pure Nutrition) for his advice on healthy ways to lose pregnancy weight. Here’s what he had to say…
Throughout the 9-month journey of pregnancy, a mother goes through a lot of physical and psychological changes and its normal for her to face fears, struggles and issues regarding regaining her health post-partum.
The pressures from society to look good, the fear of looking unattractive to her spouse, the urge to fit into those jeans and her own insecurities arise well before she conceives or learns that she’s pregnant, so imagine the amount of stress that builds over the span of 9 months.
A mother must know that it’s extremely normal and healthy if her weight increases anywhere between 12-16 kgs which is due to not just the weight of baby but also accounts for amniotic fluid, placenta, increased levels of hormones, blood etc.
Even though concerns around losing weight are genuine, taking stress can affect not only the mother but also the health of baby, both during and after pregnancy.
Right from the start of pregnancy and till over a year post that, there are a lot of hormonal changes that take place within body and losing weight is an uphill task that time because hormones do not allow that. They are more involved in things like milk production and giving you nutrients. In a bid to shed off the pregnancy weight as quickly as possible, mothers get drawn towards extreme weight-loss diets and extensive training programs that promise results but only temporary that too at a cost of compromised immunity of the new-born.
It’s necessary for a mother during her lactation period (which is roughly about 7-8 months) to eat more and nutritious food, because producing good quality and quantity of milk requires a lot of energy. Lack of quality milk is what sets the child up for disaster like early onset of allergies, auto-immunity, childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes. So it’s best to keep the weight loss goal aside during lactation. For everything else there is time, but Lactation period is the time which never comes back.
After the lactation period is when a mother can gradually start focusing on losing that extra weight, but in a healthy and respectful way because anything drastic and forcibly done is only temporary. In fact, they must take out that ME time because being the pillars of family, good health is necessary.
Given below are healthy approaches towards losing pregnancy weight:
1. Do not rush:
If you want to do it the healthy way, this is no.1 rule.
It took 9 months for your body to change, so give it at least that much time to recover.
With the right lifestyle and dietary intake, weight loss will never be a concern, nor will getting back into shape post-delivery. The body of a woman has been perfectly designed to shed off the excess pregnancy weight naturally. The more we force and chase this natural process, the more elusive it gets.
2. Focus on Alkalising your system:
A mother’s body pH tends to drop towards acidic during pregnancy. This is because of:
1. Depleting alkaline mineral stores in order to keep up with the child’s needs and 2. Accumulation of acidic waste from baby trapping the acidity in her body. Hence it is of utmost importance to readjust the pH because it is extremely difficult to lose pregnancy weight in an acidic medium. This can be done by adequate hydration, lemon water, include raw foods (soaked nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables), carrot or potato juice. Junk and processed foods increase acidity, hence must be avoided if you’re trying to lose pregnancy weight in a healthy way.
3. Start with gentle exercises: Walking, Yoga, Pilates:
Start with slower and gentle forms of exercises because your muscles need to waken up after a long gap. One can measure progress and gradually step up with each passing week. Doing too much too soon can backfire and injure you instead of helping you lose that pregnancy weight. Lower back and Upper shoulder stretches help a lot because those muscles are used to full capacity during pregnancy. A 30-min walk in nature with your baby in stroller is a great thing to do. Core workouts will help you tone your mid-riff.
4. Manage stress i.e postpartum depression:
This arises mainly due to the hormonal changes that take place and can come in your way of eating well, energy levels, loss of interest in activities. Its real and extremely important to tackle because it leads to a rise in cortisol and estrogen levels, which are your fat storing hormones. If it’s severe seek professional help, surround yourself with positive people and enhance the spiritual side of you.
It is going to be challenging to catch up on sleep, but getting quality sleep whenever you get a chance is really important. A sleep deprived mother is likely to experience cravings because of an imbalance in hunger and satiety hormones. Also the metabolism becomes sluggish with lack of sleep. So remember to sleep well to lose pregnancy weight properly!