Having a baby is such a wonderful experience, but having extra weight remain on your body is not! While most women would love to lose the pregnancy weight in 1-month- celebrity-style-crash-diet, the truth is that fast post-pregnancy weight loss is unhealthy for your body and if you are breastfeeding that’s definitely something you shouldn’t aim for.
As a yoga teacher, this is what I always say to my post-pregnancy yoga students: “It took you nine months to put on the baby weight, you must give your body the time to naturally heal and get back into the hot mama shape.” So instead of panicking in front of your wardrobe when you can’t fit into your favourite pair of jeans, just take a deep breath and start by taking some “baby” steps (pun intended) towards your slim and healthy mama body.
1. Drink Plenty of Water!
It is important to stay hydrated, especially when you are breastfeeding. Drinking lots of water daily helps maintain a balance of fluid in your body and helps you absorb essential vitamins and minerals from food that you eat. Very often we mistake dehydration for hunger, so staying hydrated will help you stay away from the extra snack calories.
Tea, soft drinks and coffee are diuretics and can flush your body of important nutrients too quickly. Stick to plain water and try adding flavour with a lemon wedge, fresh mint or some frozen berries.
2. Try Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a great way to get your shape back after pregnancy. When you breastfeed, your uterus and surrounding tissue contract a little which is anaerobic activity at its best! The baby is getting the best milk possible and your body is losing mass a little at a time. Every time you breastfeed your body is burning calories and many women who breastfeed get back in shape very quickly.
3. Rest & Relax
The first few months with a newborn baby are very exciting but also extremely tiring due to the lack of sleep. Make sure to take any opportunity to sleep and relax. Take naps during the day together with your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure to take some time for yourself to relax. Get a post-pregnancy massage. Listen to relaxing music. Meditate and breathe deeply. The more rested and relaxed you are, the more energy you’ll have for your baby and possibly for some short exercise sessions.
While I don’t recommend getting back into high intensity exercise routines straight after pregnancy, try some of the gentle forms of physical activity as soon as you get a green light from your doctor. Get outside and take the baby for a walk – fresh air is a great stress reliever! Yoga and meditation are also two good ways to stay in touch with your mind and body. Jumping and jiving may not be the only way to lose those unwanted pounds. It may be difficult to find the energy or time, but start with small steps and do something active every day and you’ll see the results sooner than you think.
5. Eat Well
Being on a ‘diet’ post-pregnancy is never a good idea. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, your focus should always be on good quality nutrition, not on counting calories. Your body needs energy to heal after a huge physical and emotional effort of delivering a baby, so make sure to eat well and you’ll gradually get back into shape.
A balanced post-pregnancy nutrition plan will include good quality protein (eggs, fish, poultry), healthy fats (nuts & nut butters, coconut oil, olive oil), lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains (brown rice, quinoa). If you are breastfeeding, your baby might be sensitive to certain foods so just observe her reactions and adjust your eating plan accordingly. Aim for three main meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and one to two healthy snacks in between mail meals.
Nika Karan is a yoga instructor and author of the bestselling book Yoga For Weight Loss For Beginners: A Step-By-Step Picture Guide To 90 Slimming Yoga Poses. As part of her mission to help people lose weight and live better lives through the practice of yoga and proper nutrition, Nika studied nutrition at the Institute For Integrative Nutrition in New York.
Image Credit: Fitness Buster