Firstly, let me start off by congratulating you on your new arrival. And although it may seem like you are never going to feel anything but tired and out of shape, rest assured that you will recover your energy and physique — it will just take a bit of time and patience. But how soon can you start?
Celebrity post-baby miracles
Within weeks of giving birth, celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Simpson and Jessica Alba have been paraded in front of the cameras showing absolutely no sign of having ever been pregnant.
But how achievable is this for a new mother — who can’t call upon a team of nannies, live-in personal trainers and chefs to help them out? And how honest are celebrities being anyway?
The answer is, probably not very. Indeed, Actress Tori Spelling admitted in 2012 that, instead of losing her baby weight by doing low intensity cardio and eating fish, soups, avocado and rice cakes, she actually did it by “eating very little” — but was advised by her publicist to lie.
Dangers of starting too early
The truth is that celebrity mums are not doing their body any favours by embarking upon such an aggressive weight loss regimen so close to giving birth; it is generally advised that you wait until your 6 week postnatal check before you even think about trying to lose weight.
Pregnancy and labour are traumatic, and you will be recovering for weeks after childbirth. You will need enough nutrients and calories to aid your recovery and get you through the physical and mental demands of a new baby, so go easy on yourself for a while.
Changes after birth
As you will already be aware, pregnancy brings about a huge number of changes in your body, from increased blood volume to swollen feet and a swollen abdomen.
Most of these changes are only temporary, and will revert back to normal within a period of weeks and months. However, many women will experience some permanent changes to their waist and hip size and even the areas they tend to store fat, due to pregnancy-induced changes to their hormones.
Because the abdominal muscles need to accommodate the growing foetus by relaxing and elongating during pregnancy, you will probably find that your tummy will be softer for a long time after giving birth.
After these muscles start to look and feel more normal, you can start to do some core exercises to strengthen and tone them. Until then, just rely on normal functional movements to strengthen the general area.
For the first month or so, just having a baby is enough of a workout for most. Indeed any intensive exercise should be out of bounds for the first 2 months, and if you have had a C-section, any abdominal or core exercises should not be attempted until your doctor has advised that they are okay.
If you are keen to be active, then you can begin with gentle exercises like walking, gentle stretching and those all-important pelvic floor exercises. When you feel you are ready to take up more intense exercise, seek the guidance of your GP and the advice of a qualified PT.
[I have compiled a set of Stretches and Body Weight exercises into a Guide which you can grab for FREE from here]
Breastfeeding can help you lose the baby weight after giving birth by increasing your need for calories. However, it is essential that you do not use this as an opportunity to lose lots of weight quickly, and there are a number of things to consider.
To satisfy their own needs and those of their baby, Breastfeeding mums expend between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day. Some of these calories can come from fat stored during pregnancy, although a minimum of 1,800 is necessary to maintain your milk supply and health.
Losing weight too quickly can cause a decrease in your milk supply, so reduce calories slowly after week 6 and see how your body and milk production are affected. If you notice any changes in your milk, increase your calories immediately.
It is not only calories which you need when breastfeeding but also nutrients, so ensure you maintain a balanced diet and include plenty of protein and calcium; dairy products are a great way of achieving this, just remember to eat plenty of vegetables as well.
When fat is stored, toxins are stored in tissue at the same time. Rapid weight loss results in these toxins being released, potentially contaminating your milk, therefore, try not to exceed a weight loss rate of half a pound a week.
I realise that you may not actually remember what it is like to get a decent night’s sleep if you have a hungry noisy young baby ruining every attempt you make at getting a little shuteye.
As well as being mental torture, sleep deprivation can make it harder to lose weight by making you crave high calorie foods and changing your body’s hormonal environment in ways which increase fat storage.
Lack of sleep also makes it less likely that you will be physically active during waking hours, making it even harder for you to lose the baby weight and regain your pre-pregnancy shape. The old advice that you should try and get some sleep whenever the baby nods off is good advice, and try to get an early night and as many power naps as you can for the benefit of your waistline as well as your sanity.
To help you get started I have written a guide which highlights when you should get started, what stretches you need to do and a number of body weight exercises that will help you strengthen your back, hips and core (all supported with a series of 100% free videos). These were the exact routines that my partner performed after her pregnancy and the same ones we use at our gym with some of our post pregnant clients. Feel free to grab a copy of this free guide below.
Want to learn more about getting fit after birth? read Post Pregnancy : Back, Hips and Core Stability