Let’s talk about the Bump. The goal of pregnant women in the Victorian Era was to avoid looking pregnant. Women were actually outfitted with whalebone corsets under the ruse that the equipment would help them maintain slim lines, “hold the baby in its proper place” (was it going somewhere?), and reduce birth weight for an easier delivery. Fast-forward about a half century and women invested in tent-style clothing that prudishly hid their bump – until it was no longer possible. Then, popular culture advised, stay at home with a good book until baby arrived. Today pregnancy fashion is all about the Bump. Whether it’s long, flowy bohemian style dresses or form-fitting tees, public culture has welcomed the sight of moms getting ready to welcome new life growing in that belly! How the times have changed… or have they?
Where culture once carried anxiety about the pre-baby bump and invented a slew of fashionable cover-ups, the anxiety today has shifted to the post-baby bump. New moms are now flooded with images of mother-and-child nestled sweetly together… in gym clothes. Often on the cover of fitness and fashion magazines with headlines wondering aloud “how you’re going to get that baby weight off.” So how will you manage your fashionable Bump once it goes out of style with baby’s arrival?
Birth: The first big drop
On average, women gain between 25-35 pounds with each pregnancy. Note that 25-35 pounds is the average. Some gain less and some gain more! Each mom has a different body, so an average is just a relative point of comparison. At birth, a new mom can expect to shed between 10-15 pounds immediately (consider that birth includes the evacuation of a 5-10 lb. newborn, amniotic sac with fluid, and placenta), which is a significant running start to any weight loss program! Using the averages, that’s an impressive 30-60 percent of your pregnancy weight.
The First Few Weeks
You will probably leave the hospital still comfortably donning your maternity gear, which you may continue to wear for the next month or two… or three. Why? Because your belly – and everything within it used to create baby and keep baby safe – will still be recovering. Your blood supply, fat stores, and swollen uterus will gradually get the memo that there is no need to keep up the hard work they’ve been doing for the past nine months. Your body will take its time shrinking down to its former pre-pregnancy glory, and it will do a lot of this work without any intentional help from you.
During those first post-delivery weeks your job is to bond with and care for your baby. Understand, though, that those weeks of caring for baby is not at the expense of caring for yourself. It’s just that your body will relax into that hard work of caring all on its own without a date at the gym on the calendar. Even though you likely aren’t at your pre-pregnancy weight (and certainly not sporting your pre-pregnancy shape, yet!), know that your body is still healthy and in an transitional time before you consider implementing an actual plan for post-pregnancy weight loss. It might not look like your end goal yet, and that’s okay.
If you plan to breastfeed, you’re likely to get an even further head start in your healthy post-pregnancy weight loss plan, because breastfeeding often takes off weight in record time, sometimes burning up to 500 calories per day (between a quarter and a third of the average woman’s daily calorie needs)! In addition, nursing keeps the hormone messengers coming that communicate to your uterus.”
Once you feel as though you’ve established a livable routine with all the new changes to your family, it’s time to create a health and fitness plan. Any healthy weight loss program in any season of life asks for careful consideration of diet and exercise. Please note emphasis on the word healthy. A healthy plan promotes your body’s energy and ability to perform daily tasks. A new mom’s plan must focus on health above all else, both for her sake and the sake of her baby (which may or may not result in a bikini-body for the upcoming summer).
During pregnancy your physician likely encouraged you to add about 300-500 calories per day to support “eating for two.” To lose weight steadily (and likely permanently), do the inverse and reduce your daily calorie intake by 300-500 calories as you now eat for one. That will result in about a steady 1 pound-per week weight loss result (one pound = 3,500 calories). Remember to take into account your additional nutritional needs based on overall activity and continued breastfeeding. Your diet also needs a special emphasis on healthy balance. As popular food writer Michael Pollan likes to say, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” To achieve healthy post-pregnancy weight loss, new moms need to eat enough to satisfy daily caloric needs from a diverse nutritional sources – vegetables, grains, fruits, etc. In order to have a clear sense of whether you are getting that balanced intake, new moms may want to invest in a calorie-counting app to practice evaluating daily diet. The better your diet, the easier it will be for your body to return to a healthy weight.
“Exercise” is nothing more than moving your body – and chances are, with a newborn you’re already moving more than you were toward the end of your pregnancy! When introducing exercise as part of a healthy post-pregnancy weight loss plan start with simple activity that both feels good and is enjoyable. Whether it’s walking, swimming, jogging, or yoga, find movement that fits into your week. It may also be something that does or does not involve your baby. A walk outdoors with a stroller can work well as will mother-baby yoga classes. However, it may be that you want to have some time set aside for yourself, in which case exercise can do double-duty as both activity and personal time (which may be at a premium with a baby at home!)
No matter where you are in healthy post-pregnancy weight loss, know that patience is key. Your body may recover slowly from pregnancy and childbirth and in the newborn haze it may be difficult to do much more than the minimum. But stay positive – your body will accomplish a great deal on it’s own and the “small things” like breastfeeding, all those extra steps you take running to and from the nursery, and a fridge stocked with veggies will do wonders on its own!
Contact Caring Hands Matter Today!
For more information about how to post-pregnancy weight safely, effectively, and for the sake of long-term health, please call or contact Caring Hands Matter online today to learn about the benefits of our new mom assistance services.