The latest trend for new mums is the view that you should be back to your pre-baby weight immediately after giving birth and that it should be simple for every woman. This ideal has been more and more widely circulated by celebrity mums posting after-shots of impossibly flat tummies, just weeks after birth.
The issue here is establishing what is normal.
In a normal, healthy pregnancy – as suggested by healthcare professionals – a woman will gain between 11 and 16kgs in baby weight and fluid alone and we only lose about 5kgs of this during labour. This all creates immense trauma within the body and the lingering weight can take months to shed because it comes not just from the extra skin you might have now but also your enlarged breast tissue, blood supply and enlarged uterus. Your uterus can take up to 6 weeks to shrink back to its pre-baby size.
The misconception that the weight simply falls off after delivery is a commonly believed ideal with 61% of new mums, out of a survey of 7000 expecting to shed their post-baby weight immediately. The reality is that many celebrities circulating miraculous and immediate weight loss results fail to publicise the many hours per week spent in strenuous training sessions and strict dieting, or their visits to a plastic surgeon. Many mothers are exhausted from the sleep deprivation that goes hand-in-hand with raising a newborn, cannot afford the financial cost of this commitment and cannot afford to spend time away from a new baby – all of which is demanded by a strict weight loss regime.
It’s always worth starting a post-baby food regime, but you should exercise caution. Your body needs more calories to produce milk when nursing a baby than it does in your third trimester, when you’re still building it. Dahlas Fletcher, a pregnancy and postnatal trainer, and mother of 3 comments, “Labour, birth and breastfeeding cause fluctuating hormones and the internal damage post-birth takes time to heal. Bouncing back post-baby is a misnomer.”
For those mums who find the bulk of baby weight easy enough to shed, there is still the issue of problem fat concentration around the skin stretched and weakened by holding a baby. Many find that this loosened skin and stubborn weight never leaves the body, even with a strict fitness regime. This means that even when a healthy weight range is reached, many mums are still unhappy with their natural bodies.
Studies suggest that this stubborn weight leads to a large percentage of mothers feeling dissatisfied with their bodies months after giving birth, leading to poor body image (which is also becoming a growing issue with men) and even depression due to the shame associated with bodies not bouncing back as expected.
This body confidence has a direct effect on mood, energy levels and by extension, has an influence on children. It also means that the time spent worrying about body image could be left to confidently enjoy making memories with your new little miracle.
If you look at it objectively, would you expect your friends, mothers or daughters to drop their pregnancy weight right away? Would their success or failure to drop this weight influence your feelings towards them? You’d probably think the opposite. You would be more impressed by the way they are dedicating their spare time to the baby than the amount of time they are not dedicating to exercise.
It took ten months to grow a baby in your body, to gain all of that weight, your body won’t go back to normal overnight.
We need to give ourselves a break and stop buying into the media fascination with women’s bodies. Your children, partner and friends will be much happier to see you relaxed and making slow progress.
Did you take your time to reach your ideal weight post-baby? Share below!
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