by: Janice Elizabeth Small
You have just given birth and you want to get back into shape. Here are some tips:
- Be especially kind to yourself in the first weeks after your baby is born. Your body has gone through huge changes and it’s unrealistic to expect that you can snap back into your old shape straight away. Unrealistic expectations sets you up for failure and disappointment, but you CAN get your figure back if you are patient and take it one step at a time.
- Forget drastic dieting and treat your body to healthy nourishing food and gentle exercise to get back in shape. You will naturally lose some weight during the first few weeks as your uterus shrinks. Breast feeding alone will allow you to lose weight at 1lb a week if you eat normally and healthily as it uses up 500 calories a day, but you do need to eat enough so that your milk does not dry up. Plan on losing the remainder at a gentle pace.
- Your tummy will look very sad after the birth, flabby and saggy. Don’t worry you can soon get things looking good again. Do all the post-natal exercises and gentle exercise recommended by your health-care professionals during the first 6 weeks to get your tummy back in shape. After that check with them that it is Ok if you want to embark on a more strenuous exercise routine. Once your doctor says its OK to exercise, one of the best ways to retighten your muscles is a simple yoga move. Stand with your feet apart, hands on thighs. Breathe out fully and then pull your tummy muscles in and up as hard as you can, holding for a count of 10. If you do this a few times a day before breakfast you’ll soon see results. Don’t do this during pregnancy.
- The first few weeks with your baby are precious and not the time to start injuring yourself by doing too much too soon. Whatever you decide to do, don’t go mad in the first week you’re allowed to exercise normally. Build up gradually as if you’d not exercised before. Wear a postpartum belly belt to help shrink your belly & provide back support when carrying your baby.
- If you are not able to get back to the gym or to do whatever activity you used to do now that you have a baby to care for, investigate home-exercise programs and videos you can do while your baby sleeps or organise your partner or friend to watch your baby for a short time while you exercise. You will need to be a bit more resourceful and determined to fit in your exercise but you can find a way if you really want to.
- Walking with your baby is always great – you both get fresh air and out of the house and you get fitter while your baby is soothed by the movement of the pram. You could also use a baby carrier to keep your baby close to you while you walk. This is especially soothing for a restless baby. Aim to walk for 30 minutes to an hour each day.
- You may find yourself tempted to snack more if you are alone at home with your baby especially if you are used to being out and about at work every day. Make sure you have lots of healthy snacks around such as fruit and avoid buying unhealthy snacks so you are not tempted. You may be better to plan 5 or 6 mini-meals rather than snacking all day AND having your usual lunch and dinner.
- Take the time to plan simple meals for the next few days before you go shopping. This will help you avoid the “What’s for dinner”/”Oh no, I haven’t defrosted it?” / “Better send out for pizza again” Syndrome. This is not the time to plan elaborate recipes but try and avoid too much processed junk food because you do have time for a simple omelette, pasta sauce, baked potato or salad
- If you start a plan to get in shape and it all feels like too much, simply restart it when you feel up to it – there’s no need to beat yourself up over anything. Most women feel a bit tired and stressed with a new baby so don’t put more pressure on yourself. All in good time. If you feel really down remember and seek help – post-natal depression is very real and quite common.
- Reward yourself. You’ve been through a lot – your body has changed, your hormones are in disarray. Whatever you do that helps towards getting back in shape (a walk, a healthy snack, your tummy exercises or whatever) give yourself a pat on the back. A few moments to yourself can be a great reward if you have someone who will care for your little one for a while.
Bonus tip: Above all relax into your new life with your baby. You’ll achieve nothing by worrying about your shape. Take time to rest and pamper yourself as much as possible. Sometimes you can feel quite neglected because your baby makes so many demands and this in itself can lead you to eat for comfort. Take care of your own needs. Ask for support from your partner. If you look after yourself by eating healthily and keeping up some gentle exercise you’ll be fine and your weight will naturally rebalance itself over time.
Check out our yoga range for some nice active wear.