Losing weight after pregnancy can be important for some women, but there’s no one-size-fits-all method for it. “The significance of weight loss after pregnancy depends on several factors, including the individual’s health, pre- and post-pregnancy weight as well as overall well-being,” explains Dr Babitha Maturi, obstetrician and gynecologist, Apollo Clinic, Bengaluru. She adds that if the person gained several kilos during pregnancy than recommended or if their post-pregnancy weight is at an unhealthy level, losing the extra weight can be beneficial to their overall health.
Experts state that excess weight can increase the risk of health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. The additional load can strain joints and muscles and cause discomfort, especially after pregnancy. So, losing weight can alleviate some of these issues.
Tips for weight loss after pregnancy
1. Prioritize nutrition
It is important to focus on a balanced and nutritious diet for recovery and well-being after childbirth. Dr Maturi adds that one can prepare healthy meals and snacks in advance to avoid reaching for less nutritious options when mothers are busy or tired. “They should avoid processed food as well as sugary and carbonated drinks,” shares Dr Shrinath P Shetty, consultant, endocrinology, KMC Hospital, Mangalore, Karnataka.
Experts advise that the new mother should consume more lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, low-fat dairy products, iron-rich food, fiber-rich fare and meals rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It is also important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. “Staying hydrated supports your metabolism and helps reach satiety, which can prevent overeating,” says Dr Maturi.
“Fruits should be added to the diet, but a few, like banana or jackfruit that are high in calories, can be avoided,” informs Dr Shetty. He adds that vegetables that grow below the ground, like yam, sweet potato, potato and radish are high in starch content, so their consumption should also be reduced.
2. Regular exercise
Experts suggest gradually incorporating exercise into the routine. New mothers can start with low-impact activities like walking for at least half an hour every day. Dr Shetty explains that while it could be challenging to exercise initially, after six months to a year, the mother can engage in aerobic exercises and then go on to resistance training. As the body recovers, they can increase the intensity and duration of workouts. Dr Mathuri highlights that one should consider exercises that focus on strengthening the core and pelvic floor muscles, which could be weakened by pregnancy and childbirth. So, activities such as pelvic tilts, Kegels and gentle core exercises can help.
3. Get adequate sleep
It is necessary to get adequate sleep as it helps you get the required rest since you might be overstrained. It not only helps with weight loss but also overall well-being. Disturbed sleeping patterns lead to increased energy intake, partly from excessive snacking on foods high in fat and carbohydrates. “Try to get enough rest and nap when your baby naps, if possible,” says Dr Maturi.
4. Portion control
It is important to pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating. “Use smaller plates and bowls to help control portions,” shares Dr Maturi. Dr Shetty adds that instead of having large quantities of heavy food, it is better to have a distributed meal plan with smaller portions.
Dr Maturi explains that one should practice mindful eating by paying attention to hunger and fullness cues. Avoid eating when you’re not hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, not overly full.
5. Set realistic goals
Dr Srividya Guddeti Reddy, consultant obstetrics and gynecology, BirthRight by Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Bengaluru, shares that the weight loss journey after pregnancy should be a slow and consistent process. Experts state that it is vital to remember that your body has undergone significant changes — hence, it needs time to heal and adjust. The kilos gained over nine months of pregnancy will not be lost right after delivery, it may take six months to a year. Dr Maturi highlights the need to aim at a gradual weight loss journey.
6. Consult a healthcare provider
Experts state that it is crucial to consult a doctor before changing your diet or exercise routine. “They can assess your individual situation, ensure you’re ready for physical activity, and provide personalized advice,” explains Dr Maturi.