Becoming a mother changes everything: your lifestyle, relationships, body and soul. Unwanted physical transformation after the childbirth is just one of the things that the post-partum period brings. However, this is more than enough to make women feel discomfort and a lack of self-esteem. That’s the reason why most fresh moms want to get back in shape and claim their old body back as soon as they can.
Nowadays, more than ever, we see celebrities (and sometimes non-celebrities) toned and fit just days and weeks after delivery. This new trend confuses new moms even further, making them wonder if their bodies are adequate, “normal” and desirable. We witness the trend of fat-shaming and the enormous pressure to get back in shape immediately – and this makes enjoying motherhood really tough, sometimes impossible.
Some studies tried to find out if there’s any correlation between race/ethnicity and excessive weight gain (GWG) and postpartum weight retention (PPWR). According to them, Hispanic and African American women are more likely to gain post-partum weight compared to Caucasian women. However, those studies were inconclusive and more research is needed. Also, results don’t carry much significance without finding out the cause of the differences and the appropriate solution.
Some surveys show that women generally believe that losing post-baby weight will be much easier than it really is. More than half of them claimed that they will be baby-weight free by the end of the first year. However, almost 60 percent of those women still had several extra pounds compared to their pre-pregnancy weight. Still, 20 percent of those interviewed were happy with their weight as they managed to lose all baby fat.
Most women lose around 12 pounds during the delivery and weight loss slowly continues in the weeks after. To speed things up a little bit, you can change your diet and start exercising – but not before your doctor tells you that you’re ready. You shouldn’t do serious exercise at least until six weeks after delivery (and longer if you had a C-section). Also, breastfeeding your baby is probably the easiest thing to do if you want to melt off your pounds.
Before starting with regular physical activity, pay attention to what you eat – it’s more important than how much you eat. Experts will never recommend a regular weight-loss diet. You need to eat at least 2000 calories per day and extra 500 if you’re breastfeeding to keep your milk full of nutrients and feed both the baby and yourself. Your diverse and balanced menu should include food rich in proteins, vitamins and fibers – and don’t forget complex, healthy carbohydrates to keep you energized.
Why is protein so important for women who’ve just had childbirth? They will satisfy your hunger better that carbohydrates and help you in building strong muscles when you start with regular exercise. Meat, fish and eggs contain much more than just proteins – they are a great source of vitamin B12 and iron. However, if you’re not a big fan of meat, you can always opt for vegetables and foods rich in those nutrients such as cheese, tofu, soybean, cereal, legumes, tomato, spinach, etc.
Start your exercising routine with regular walks, preferably with your baby. Even short daily walks will help – start with small and easy activities and slowly work towards more demanding exercises. When your physician allows it, do some weightlifting that will help you regain your strength and muscle tone. Muscles and skin get stretched during the delivery and it’s important to bring back their elasticity. However, it’s good to set realistic goals and be aware of the fact that your body may have been changed for good.
There’s one more option. Plastic surgery is the fastest shortcut that many women undergo to achieve the desired look after pregnancy. Sometimes, procedures such as tummy tuck, liposuction and breast implants are the only way to look like you used to and restore your self-confidence and well-being. Doing a mommy makeover may be a good idea, but not before you consult with a professional. Remember one thing, a surgery may boost your self-esteem, but it will not solve your problems. Always be aware of the risks of the surgery, don’t take it lightly and ask an expert for advice to find out if you’re a good candidate for a makeover.