Pregnancy and childbirth are great moments for majority of women. But soon after delivery, new pressures start to pile up almost immediately, not least the urge to return to a pre-pregnancy body shape.
Weight gain and loss of muscular tone are inevitable unwanted effects of pregnancy.
The pressure to return to a pre-pregnancy shape can be unbearable, but women must have realistic expectations. A 2009 study showed that it takes on average about ten months to regain a pre-pregnancy weight. Five per cent of women take a whole three years to regain their shapes, but depressingly one in three women never regain their pre-pregnancy shapes at all! Celebrities appear to revert to their pre-pregnancy shapes in a matter of weeks, this is hardly the norm and is an unrealistic goal for majority of women. Celebrities do not generally gain as much weight during their pregnancy as the average woman. And they have resources that include personal trainers, chefs and nannies, all of whom allow them to devote serious time to getting in shape, a luxury few other women can afford.
Recently pregnant women should aim to have a good diet, and avoid the temptation to hastily start on weight reduction. Pregnancy and childbirth have high nutritional demands, especially so in breastfeeding women who need an additional 350 – 400 calories a day. Aim to eat well, and build plenty of iron and vitamin rich foods into your diet, in addition to plenty of fluids. Prematurely commencing on fancy weight reduction diets just limits your energy reserves and contributes to unending fatigue. This may jeopardise well-intentioned efforts at giving optimal care to your newborn baby.
Read more: How I Lost the Baby Weight
Getting back to a physical exercise routine should be gradual and unhurried. Start with simple and non-strenuous exercises as soon as you feel comfortable. Women who have had normal and uncomplicated vaginal deliveries can usually commence physical activities as early as they wish. If the delivery was more complicated or by Ceserean Section, a review by your Obstetrician prior to commencing physical activities may be necessary. Initial exercises may just be taking simple walks, combined with some stretching to improve abdominal wall muscular tone. Pelvic floor exercises should be incorporated as well, aiming to tone back pelvic muscles and maintain control of the bladder and bowels. As physical tolerance improves, aerobics and other more demanding exercises can be added on gradually.
Relaxation techniques must be built into your attempts to regain a pre-pregnancy shape. Being a new mother is so stressful, don’t get caught up in how the rest of the world wants you to look, you can become depressed and discouraged. Getting back into those pre-pregnancy jeans may not be easy. The worst you can do is try too hard, and do too much too soon.
• Pregnancy can permanently change body size and structure
• Goals toward a pre-pregnancy shape should be gradual
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