Myth busting post-pregnancy weight loss

Relax! After giving birth it’s normal to look…pregnant!

It’s every woman’s dream to immediately lose their pregnancy pounds. However, the first myth to bust is that having an instantly stick-thin figure after birth is normal. Well it isn’t! Although miraculous images of washboard stomachs have become a popular self-promotion tool of the rich and famous, the reality is that this has more to do with Photoshop than good genes.

Regardless of your body type, all new mums still have a sizable bump after giving birth. During pregnancy your body has adjusted for your baby and it takes between 4-8 weeks for your body to adjust back. Your uterus has to "involute" or shrink its normal size and your stomach muscles need time to strengthen back together.

The length of the post-birth bump phase depends on lots of factors including your age, genetics and body type. However, the important thing to remember is that this phase is normal, as you’re still very much pregnant — physically, emotionally, chemically — for a good few weeks after birth.

So relax and enjoy being a new mum and don’t stress that your bikini bod hasn’t materialised yet.

The dreaded weight-loss plateau

After a few weeks, you’re jumping on the scales every morning and delightfully watching the weight fall off – it’s a miracle! Just as you’re starting to believe, you hit the dreaded weight loss plateau. You slump; it was all going so well.

In first weeks after birth, your pregnancy hormone levels gradually decrease, so their effect on bodily water retention is reduced. This results in seemingly easy and effort-free weight loss. For many new mums this plateau can be the first real mental and physical hurdle, and sadly many women give up and accept the extra pounds as the new normal, as they don’t understand what’s happening.

No matter where you are on your post-baby weight loss journey, patience is the key.

Now you’re ready to diet…but in moderation

Caring for your baby leaves a lot less time to take care of yourself as you struggle to cope with more work and less sleep. But while losing the stubborn pounds might be difficult, a good diet can really get your body to bounce back into shape.

The first rule is to ignore media hype and advertising pressure. Stick to your guns by dieting (and exercising) at your own pace.  A good baseline is to lose no more than half a kilogram per week, especially if you’re breastfeeding so your milk production won’t be affected. Remember that getting enough calories is essential for your body to produce breast milk that is nutrient rich and free from toxins.

The second rule is to avoid the temptation to snack. As many new mums find they are more housebound and isolated from friends, the long days can lead to increased snacking on comfort foods high in salt, sugar and fat.

Finding a remedy to reduce this urge is essential and we recommend a combination of healthy nibbles and herbal teas to replace the chips and sweets. As with any other time in your life, always follow a balanced diet and consult a dietitian if you’re unsure.

Build exercise into your new routine, and keep it simple!

I know you’re heard it a thousand times before but it’s essential to find an activity that you enjoy and keep it simple. If you’re not going straight back to work, use the time to plan easy exercises into your week and slowly develop it into a routine.  

Remember it doesn’t have to be in a gym. A common mistake of new mums is feeling too self-conscious to venture back into the gym after birth. This can lead to some women becoming increasing house-bound and sedentary.

A brisk daily walk with the buggy in a park is a great way to relax, unwind and get some fresh air while exercising.

However you tackle your post-pregnancy weight loss, make sure it's enjoyable and don't put yourself under too much pressure.

Need a bit of motivation? Check out how Alyssa Milano lost her baby-weight...