Claiming back your pre-pregnancy body

Having a baby not only changes your life – you would be surprised at just how much it changes your body. When you fall pregnant, there are two things you should know – you will gain weight and you will look bigger. In fact, you need to gain some weight in order for your baby to grow and be healthy.

Losing the weight won't happen overnight though. It did take you nine months to gain it remember? The good news is that most women lose up to half their pregnancy weight immediately after giving birth to the baby.

After the birth you should start to lose some more weight as your body starts to return to its pre-pregnancy state. Your body no longer needs the increased blood volume or fluids, and your uterus is slowly starting to shrink back to its previous size.

What's important is that you give yourself time. Caring for a newborn and establishing breastfeeding is exhausting enough, so try postponing any weight loss plans until your six week post-partum doctor’s visit.

Does breastfeeding help?

Yes it does, even though you might feel discouraged at first. Your body will hold on to those fat reserves for energy, and your breasts might get a lot bigger as your milk comes in. In fact, some women even gain up to 2,5kg due to increased breast size!

There is more good news though– soon after breastfeeding is established and you fall into a good supply and demand routine, your breasts will shrink again. And in the end, breastfeeding is one of the best ways to lose some of that pregnancy weight.

Breastfeeding and the extra energy it demands is no excuse to eat more.Fact is, your body only needs 1200 kilojoules a day to maintain breast milk production. However, this is not the time to go on a strict kilojoule restrictive diet. Restricting your kilojoules can also reduce your milk supply and your baby needs the nutrients in your breast milk to grow.

So what should you do?

There is really only one way of losing any kind of weight, including pregnancy weight – eat right and move more.
  • Increase your intake of wholegrain breads and pasta, as well as fruit and vegetables. Limit fatty foods.
  • Eat low GI foods whenever you can, since they keep your blood sugar levels constant and eliminate the need to snack.
  • If you are unsure of what to eat, rather make an appointment with a dietician or join a support group. Currently Weigh-Less is the only weight loss club in South Africa that has s specific formula for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
  • Be careful not to start a vigorous exercise regime too soon after birth, especially if you had a caesarean section. Giving birth plays havoc with your body and you need to recover. Rather wait for your six week postpartum visit and discuss it with your doctor.
  • You should try walking. It is safe, low impact and tones your body. Whether you take your baby with you or go alone – it gives you some time to get out of the house, get some fresh air and it even helps to fight postpartum depression.
  • In the end you should stress less about your body and focus on what is really important – time to enjoy your baby. You will get back to normal again, even if your body never goes back to exactly the same as it was before.
The truth is that all these things are logical and basic but new moms and their weight are rarely logical!

Want to know more about pregnancy weight?
What you need to know about pregnancy weight gain
The overweight pregnancy

How did you handle your post-pregnancy weight? Or are you still fighting the bulge?

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