I’m excited to have Dr. Michelle Frank write for Valeio! This week she shares her best tips on shedding pregnancy weight healthily. Let me know what you think. If there are any topics you would like us to write on, let us know in the comments below.
An extra special thank you to my good friend, Casey and mama-to-be, for sharing these beautiful photos of herself and belly bean for this post. ❤️
Pregnancy, with its joys and tears, has finally come to an end. In your arms, you hold your little one and probably reminisce on the phase you have just completed. Ahead of you lies another phase of this, with its own set of highs and lows. While the prime focus for you is your baby, taking care of you is essential for you to be the best provider for your baby.
Your body doesn’t feel the same after labour and delivery. And with your new baby, you often wish to reach your old levels of activity and energy to keep up with the demands of being a new mother. More so, women often dread looking at their tummies after pregnancy is over. While losing weight often seems daunting, a few small steps go a long way during your postpartum phase.
Wait It Out
Your body goes through a healing process after delivery. Most women who have delivered vaginally should be able to start light exercises a couple of weeks after delivery. However women who have had a C section or complications during their delivery should ideally wait 6 to 8 weeks until their postnatal check up. After their gynaecologist has given them the green light they can start with light to moderate physical activity.
Watch What You Eat
This isn’t a time to cut down meals or opt for quick fixes. Nourishing yourself is necessary as your body is spent from delivery and will soon need energy reserves for milk production. Cutting out the junk, excess sugar and unnecessary carbs is a great way to start your journey. Kick the cravings aside and opt for fresh fruits and include fibrous veggies in all your meals. Add protein in the form of tofu, nuts/seeds, eggs and lean meat to aid in your weight loss journey. Eat small meals and opt for healthy snacks like nuts, fruits or yoghurt throughout your day.
Walk, Walk, Walk
Probably one of the most underrated ways to weight loss, walking has plenty of benefits in addition to losing your extra pregnancy weight. Walking assists with good blood circulation in your lower limbs as well as getting your heart pumping. Walking is simple and easy. You can tag your baby along in a stroller or sling for a brisk walk around the park. Even something simple as a walk to the grocery store and back is a good way to start.
Working Your Core Muscles
After delivery some women have to take more precaution than others when working their abdominal muscles. This is mainly because sometimes the muscles stretch a lot during pregnancy leading to weakness of the connective tissues. When you lay down you can feel a soft spot above your navel and this usually indicates a separation of the muscles, a condition known as diastasis recti. It is best to contact your doctor and/or pelvic floor Physio in such a situation.
What Exercises You Can Do
Belly Breathing and Abdominal Bracing: This is usually started a few days after delivery. You have to go for mindful breathing, where you contract your abdomen when inhaling and relaxing during exhalation. You can also lay on the floor and contract your abdomen and slowly raising your arms and legs in the air.
Kegel Contractions: Most women know what these are. They work wonders after delivery to tighten up pelvic muscles. Contract your pelvic floor muscles, like you would when you attempt to stop a stream of urine. If you feel contraction in your anal area, you are contracting too much. You should still be able to breath naturally as this a gentle contraction. Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat it ten times. Aim to do these at least three times a day.
Pelvic Tilts: You do these while lying on the floor, bending your knees and placing your feet firmly on the floor. Slowly raise your pelvis in the air and contract your abdomen. Hold this for a few second before returning to the floor. Do as many repetitions of this as possible.
Yoga: The slow paced moves that yoga offers, helps to take things at a lighter and more bearable pace. Always follow routines that are within your capacity.
Cardio and Strength Training: There are many women who exercise frequently even during their pregnancy. They run, swim and lift weights and tailor their workouts throughout their pregnancy. These women transition into their regular schedule well after delivery as well. Some women can also take the assistance of a Kinesiologist or postnatal trainer to tailor workouts for them and to their current capacity. Check here for some at-home workouts that may work for you.
Motherhood is a phase with many demands and requirements. Women often forget to put themselves ahead of all the hustle and bustle of their new lives. Taking care of you is many a times the first step towards a healthier and more proactive mother in your children’s lives. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor if you face any struggles
Dr. Michelle Frank, Medical Assistance Officer for Babygogo
Call me your unconventional doctor, who is currently treading on the road less travelled. I love all things medicine. The human body and it’s inner workings never cease to fascinate me. Helping others is what gives me unparalleled satisfaction and keeps me marching on this enlightening and fulfilling journey.