Aishwarya Rai’s weight gain after the delivery of her daughter Aaradhya seems to have become an international issue. It’s been almost eight months and she is still on the receiving end of some pretty harsh comments from her detractors about her inability to lose weight. The actress’ plight sheds light on the challenges that women these days face from society to be slim and trim even during pregnancy. The emphasis on being perfect as well as being deemed socially acceptable has now become a worldwide health issue. Pressures like these can lead to serious health related problems including eating disorders.
We Indians are always on the lookout for a hearty home-cooked meal. The chances double during pregnancy, where parents and in-laws force you to ‘eat for two’ encouraging you to gorge upon those yummy sweets loaded with desi ghee, not to mention repeated servings of your favourite dishes. Add to the list generous amounts of cheese and dry fruits. Learn to know where you should draw the line. It’s true that you need extra calories from nutrient-rich foods to help your baby grow, but you generally need to consume only 100 to 300 more calories than you did before you became pregnant to meet the needs of your growing baby.
So what is the ideal weight gain?
Contrary to what is believed, weight gain of 11-16 kg during pregnancy is a healthy sign. In cases of multiples (twins) the weight gain should ideally be 18-22.5 kg. Underweight women should gain 13-18 kg during pregnancy. Overweight women should ideally gain only 7-11 kg during pregnancy. You may need to gain more or less weight, depending on what your doctor recommends.
It’s a daunting task to shed those extra kilos after you’ve had the baby. Before you draft that strict diet-plan or hit the gym, you ought to know that weight gain in pregnancy is completely natural and healthy. Just as it’s best to put on weight slowly and steadily during your pregnancy, you need to be slow and steady in losing weight post-pregnancy. With a little effort, you can easily get into great shape after having a baby. Some women even get into the best shape of their life after giving birth. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Dieting can wait
Give your body enough time to recover from labour and delivery. You should ideally wait until your six-week post-partum check-up before you start watching your calorie intake. If you’re breastfeeding, experts recommend that you wait until your baby is at least 2 months old before you try to lose weight. Moreover, starting a diet too soon after giving birth can delay your recovery and make you feel more tired – and you need all the energy you can muster to adjust to life with your new-born.
An excellent way to lose some of your pregnancy weight is to breastfeed! One of the reasons your body puts on weight during pregnancy is to help store the caloric energy it takes to breastfeed your baby-about 200 to 500 extra calories per day. Therefore take advantage of losing calories the way your body naturally intended – by breastfeeding. Don’t beat yourself up over some weight loss standard that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) exist. Enjoy nursing your baby and give yourself time.
Work it out!
There are plenty of benefits to exercising post-pregnancy. It helps you shed excess kilos, alleviate post-partum depression and unlike dieting it won’t affect your breastfeeding. However, you need to be cautious when you ease your way into exercising again.
So for starters, cut yourself some slack! Wait six weeks after a normal birth and eight weeks after a C-section to start exercising. Do some modified push-ups at home and go for a walk in the park with the baby to start off. Engage in low-impact exercises such as swimming or yoga. Make sure you’re losing fat instead of muscle. Start slow with a 10 minute routine and gradually extend it till a 30 minute session. Stop immediately if you start to feel dizzy or short of breath.
Make healthy food choices
A healthy diet is the best way to lose your pregnancy kilos. Consult your doctor as to what foods are important for the continuing health of you and your baby. Focus on nutrition, rather than weight-loss diets! If you’re breastfeeding, your baby’s nutritional needs most certainly outweigh your need for a slim body. Include lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains and lots of water. Keep healthy snacks handy such as raisins, popcorn, wheat crackers, and nuts. Refuse to buy store-bought baked goods or junk food. Always avoid processed foods and sugar as much as possible. Weight loss of about a kilo in 2 weeks is safe and won’t affect your milk supply if you’re nursing.
Eating a healthy diet is step one to get back your pre-baby body. With a new baby and schedule, as a new mother it can be hard to find the time to eat. But skipping meals won’t help you lose weight. Many moms find that eating five to six small meals a day with healthy snacks in between (rather than three larger meals) fits their appetite and schedule better. A small meal might be half a sandwich, some carrot sticks, fruit, and a glass of milk.
Mommy’s weight loss bonus
Before you realize, your baby will soon start crawling and walking. That itself, will keep you moving around all day and your weight will drop faster. Also, remember to give your body adequate rest at nights.
Don’t stress out too soon
Remember it took 9 months to gain the weight; give yourself at least that long to take it off.
Pregnancy and weight gain are like peas and carrots – they go together and it’s healthy for you. Therefore, when trying to lose those pregnancy kilos, be sensible and don’t entertain extremes: no junk food binges and no celebrity diets. Celebrities who appear slim and trim three weeks after having a baby have chefs, personal trainers and nannies to help them along. And even with all of this help, they still often resort to unhealthy weight loss methods. In the real world, consistent exercise, making healthy food choices, getting enough sleep and plenty of time are the best ingredients in a postpartum weight loss recipe.
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