Although my first thought is: you shouldn’t care about it
There are so many challenges thrown at you during the first years after having a baby, and our weight should be the last thing in our mind; I say should, but how is it possible to let it go when we are confronted with dieting messages on a daily basis?
We are constantly reminded of how we need to look like to be socially accepted, and even to be considered smart.
But unless we have an in house chef, trainer, nanny, and massage therapist (as the mum of 2 Chrissy Teagen has been honest enough to admit), we don’t have many chances to go back to a pre-baby body soon after giving birth. And also if we could, why would we? Women tend to forget how their bodies have taken care of their babies for nine long months; I mean, a human has grown inside our womb and that is magical. Still, we are focusing on how our body looks, more than how we feel.
It is sad, and we are not entirely to blame.
The diet industry may be the biggest rort in history. It’s worth an estimated US$175 billion ($250 billion) a year, but the amount is even more staggering when you consider that diets rarely achieve sustainable weight loss (Bowden, J 2018).
And yet, we always go back to believing the message that “Skinny is good” and “Dieting is the only option”. I stopped buying into that message after I realised it wasn’t serving me, and it was playing up with my mental sanity.
If you are a mum, struggling to lose the baby weight, I invite you to:
Weed and Feed
I was bombarded with questions about getting in shape, get rid of the belly and so forth only a few days after giving birth; I had no idea what was happening around me, and well-meaning acquaintances were already planting a seed on how I was expected to look like. Someone even told me “you have been lucky because you were sick during pregnancy and you didn’t put on weight”.
What I did was very simple: I stopped buying magazines, I unfollowed a huge amount of accounts on social media (nothing personal, but I needed lots of diversity in my life), and I tried to steer away from any diety conversation. I feel that women have so many interesting topics to talk about, and it is beyond me how much time we invest in trying to change our body shape.
Focus on nourishment instead of dieting
If you eat less than you usually do, you’re very likely to lose weight. When you stop eating altogether your body goes into “starvation mode,” your metabolism slows down in order to utilize whatever food it has available, and your weight loss will slow down. Of course, if you eat barely anything for months or years you will lose a lot of weight, but you also will increase your risk of heart failure, brittle bones, muscle loss and weakness, fainting, dry hair and skin, hair loss, and even death. As a new mum, losing weight fast can also lead to a decrease in milk supply, injury, anxiety and poor sleep quality (and overall reduced joy).
Instead of focusing on dieting and restricting, make sure that the food you bring to the table is fresh, organic, with a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and protein; avoid inflammatory, pre-packaged junk foods and always choose what’s given to you from mother earth. By following this lifestyle, you won’t need to worry about losing weight, ever again.
It is a good idea to write down what we eat for at least a week; a piece of paper will do, and there is no need to download fancy apps. What you want to know is if you have much more food than you think. It happened to me to scoff down an entire block of chocolate during a very anxious afternoon where my daughter wouldn’t stop crying. I didn’t blame myself for doing it (all I need was a hug, but because it wasn’t available, a nice block of dark chocolate did the trick), and I moved on with my day.
Awareness is key if we want to change and feel more vital.
Breastfeed and move with your baby
If you are breastfeeding, you will automatically shed the weight without lifting a finger, as long as you don’t indulge in foods that aren’t serving the transition of your body into motherhood. An extra layer of pudginess is beneficial during this stage, as a woman without fat will eventually notice a drop in the milk supply.
Also, all the incidental exercise you are exposed to on a daily basis (lift the baby, squat, push a pram, walk up and down the stairs, wear the baby) will prove to be beneficial
Take care of your mind and soul
The postpartum phase (and I’m talking about the 2 years after becoming a mum) is such a delicate stage in a woman’s life. It should be a stage of nurturing, resting, and enjoying this extremely challenging and rewarding chapter of our lives, Instead, we try to take control and make our life so much more difficult.
Losing weight when breastfeeding, over-exercising when sleep-deprived, going back to work when we still want to spend the day with our bubs are all major stressors that will affect the quality of our life in the short and long term.