How I Lost the Baby Weight
My second biggest concern while I was pregnant (the primary concern was that I had a healthy baby) was losing the dreaded baby weight afterwards.
While pregnant I watched the figure on the scale go up and I wondered, “Would it ever come back down again?” Exactly 8 months post-partum (after a c-section), I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight and I feel FANTASTIC! Here’s what worked for me:
1. Stay away / Limit junk food
While pregnant: It is so easy to let yourself have that one packet of chips, or bar of chocolate thinking “I’m eating for two.” Fight that urge as hard as you can and avoid those aunties who are trying to overfeed you on mandazis. Trust me, snack on fruits and nuts.
Post-partum: This was hard for me. My craving for sugar and chocolate went into overdrive while I was breastfeeding…and I did give into it. However, I limited my consumption- I permitted myself one large chocolate chip cookie a week. As the weeks went on the cravings subsided and I didn’t punish myself. What I found helped with my sugar cravings was porridge – I would alternate between Uji Afya and Wimbi Afya and it really did help.
2. Drink lots of water.
After the baby, I drank water like I was getting paid! Every day I had 4 litres of water for six months post-partum. I carried water in my handbag and took a litre to bed. The water helped me detoxify and I don’t know the science but I imagine that the water helped turn my fat deposits and baby weight into milk for the baby.
3. Moderate exercise
While pregnant: I kept up my regular exercise routine until I was 4 months pregnant, after which I switched to walking 3 km three times a week. I tried pre-natal yoga at six months and found it fun and relaxing. When I hit 8 months I quit walking – the baby pressed heavily on my bladder. After 8 months I was too tired to do anything but lay on the couch, so I would do stretches at home – while watching a movie!
Postpartum: I had a caesarean section (more on this later) and for the first couple of months I wasn’t as mobile as before. However, at six weeks postpartum I made an effort to walk 10 minutes three times a week, and then every week I increased the duration by 5 minutes. I would put the baby in my carrier and we would walk within the compound. At eight months postpartum I still strap on baby and go for longer walks. It wasn’t until I was six months postpartum that I renewed my gym membership. I aim for 3 workouts a week of 20 minutes brisk cardio and 20 minutes weightlifting.
While pregnant: I ate pretty much everything that I deemed healthy which included steam or grilled food. I tend to limit stew unless I prepared it myself. I ate a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in colour and limited processed foods. I also kept up with my pre-natal vitamins. Once a week I would treat myself to frozen yoghurt or a slice of chocolate cake!
Postpartum: From delivery to three months postpartum I drank lots of chicken soup and Uji Afya. I ate a variety of meals heavy in carbohydrates and lean meats. I also kept up with my vitamins religiously. I kept healthy snacks with me all the time. My favourite snack was cashew nuts with apples. At six months postpartum I started my day with Mixed Herbal Tea and started practicing portion control. I amped up my vegetable intake, reduced my carbohydrates, and increased my lean protein intake. I also eat a snack just before working out. Most of the time it will be a banana.
Some people say that breastfeeding doesn’t really work, but my experience says the opposite. I dropped 80 percent of the pregnancy weight in the first four months while breastfeeding.
6. Get a belly binder
Six weeks post-partum a purchased a medical-grade belly binder and had my husband help strap me in the first few times. I wore it every day for 23 hours for 3 months (except when I was showering or washing it). Yes, I did sleep in it. The belly binder didn’t help me lose weight but it did help bring my muscles back together and my belly looks like it did pre-pregnancy.