How to lose weight after giving birth

Losing weight after giving birth doesn’t have to be done immediately and can be done on the cheap as well, finds Angelique Ruzicka.

The pressure to lose weight after giving birth, particularly among celebrities, is immense. Just after Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, stepped outside St. Mary’s hospital with her newborn son, Prince George of Cambridge, magazines were already featuring stories on how she can reclaim her pre-pregnancy body.

According to reports, OK! magazine has already interviewed her fitness instructor, and the latest issue claims: “The question on everyone’s lips is not just the name, sex or weight of the baby but also how Kate plans to return to her pre-pregnancy glory.” The magazine also has a six page diet and shape up plan for the Duchess, according to the Irish Independent. For its efforts the magazine has been derided and criticised on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and some are even calling for the issue to be boycotted.

Set safe, realistic goals
The good news is that breastfeeding alone will help you to lose some of that post pregnancy weight naturally. However, if you are keen to get active again most experts say it’s safe to exercise typically after six weeks, but some claim you can start earlier if you feel capable. “If you did regular exercise up until the end of your pregnancy and had an uncomplicated natural birth, you can start with light exercise and stretching as soon as you feel ready,” says Lisa Raleigh, health and wellness expert.

“Whilst walking almost immediately is very important for those who had caesareans, exercise in general should be put on hold for a minimum of six weeks. Although it is painful, walking helps your caesarean wound knit together to improve healing,” adds Raleigh.

But she warns new moms to be more careful if they’ve experienced any pregnancy complications. “If you have had a complicated birth or are struggling with incontinence issues, always ask for your doctor’s recommendation before exercising,” she says.

Post pregnancy exercises
If your doctor has given you the green light, most experts say you should start with some light cardio work outs or you can walk, swim or even cycle. If you are still breastfeeding, you can exercise too. “It is perfectly safe to exercise while breastfeeding. Even vigorous exercise will not affect the amount or composition of your milk significantly. For your own comfort, though, you may want to pump your milk before an intense workout,” says Raleigh.

For more tips on how to get fit after pregnancy, click here for a workout designed by Raleigh.

Post pregnancy diet
Dr Robyn Langenhoven, a Cape Town based naturopath, says it’s best to only consider dieting six months after you’ve given birth: “Start by keeping away from foods rich in carbs such as pizzas, pastas and anything with sugars, sucrose and fructose in it. Foods that contain essential oils such as fish, nuts, seeds and avocados are good for people that are still breastfeeding.”

Langenhoven advises new mom’s to keep to realistic weight loss goals. “You should not lose more than 1kg a week. Doing it slowly is always good. Also make sure you have some form of protein at each meal to keep your blood sugar stable and to keep hunger pangs at bay. You should also drink lots of water and herbal teas such as Fennel tea, which is good for digestion and Camomile, which is good for calming,” she says.

If you need more discipline and structure, a weight loss plan or diet could help you to lose weight too. However, be careful about which plan you choose because you need to keep up with the correct nutrients if you are breastfeeding. Certain diet programmes could also be very expensive.

Nicky Sharp, a mom of two, did the USN Body Makeover Challenge after she finished breastfeeding when her second baby was ten months old. The 12 week challenge itself costs around R4,000, but Sharp says that in total it cost her R10,000 for the first three months to follow the regime’s dietary requirements and pills back in 2011. But Sharp doesn’t regret it. “I lost everything [gained during pregnancy] and ended up with a six pack. Once you get into the swing of things and look at the bigger picture it was worth it,” she says.

But Raleigh says losing weight after pregnancy can be achieved by simply cutting back. “I am not a fan of diets and don’t readily recommend them! Calories in versus calories out is the real way to manage your weight, so eliminating 500 calories from your daily diet, or simply boosting your exercise to burn an extra 500 calories a day means you will create a deficit, with weight loss as the result. You can work on a weekly deficit if a daily one is harder to achieve,” she says.

Keeping track of what you take in is simple too. “There are plenty of fitness trackers that can keep track of your burnt calories, and phone apps that allow you to calculate your daily calorie consumption. Clean up your diet by keeping caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt, wheat, red meat and processed foods to a minimum,” adds Raleigh.

If you are currently pregnant and want to find out how you can save money, click here. To subscribe to Moneybags’ newsletter, click here.