It is entirely normal to put on weight during pregnancy, and there are several factors which contribute to this including what you weighed before you fell pregnant, your genetic inclination to weight gain and how well you ate throughout the pregnancy.
According to the NHS, the average woman who has a healthy pre-pregnancy BMI score will put on roughly 22 to 28 pounds throughout the pregnancy, the majority of which will be added from 20 weeks onward.
What Makes Up This Weight Gain?
By the time the baby is due, a third of any additional weight is made up of the baby, the placenta and the amniotic fluid so this will naturally drop away postpartum. After the birth though, the breasts can put on anywhere up to 3 pounds of weight due to the influx of milk, and alongside this, there is an increased volume of blood and fluid circulating the body. Also, the post-birth body has an instinct to hold on to any additional weight gained during the pregnancy because breastfeeding requires a tremendous amount of energy which the body gets from this stored fat.
A study performed at the ‘Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre’, which compared the weight loss of 87 breastfeeding mothers and 81 non-breastfeeding mothers, found that the non-breastfeeding mothers lost fat from their whole body faster than those who breastfed, but that overall both groups lost similar amounts of weight after the birth. So even if the body does naturally cling to some extra fat during breastfeeding, it is important to remember that it will not stay there forever, as long as some healthy habits are put in place, ideally from the first trimester onwards, to help the body recover quickly once the baby is born.
During the first and second trimesters, a mother-to-be’s intake of calories should remain at the pre-pregnancy amount of 2000 calories per day. In the final trimester, this can be increased to around 2200 calories per day which is a very minimal amount and is equivalent only to a small omelette, bowl of soup or a Crunchie bar! As such, the food choices made during the pregnancy need not change very much at all from choices made before becoming pregnant (based on a healthy diet of 2000 calories a day).
Snacking and Healthy Habits
While it is, of course, natural to gain weight during pregnancy, the weight gain can continue even after the baby has been born due to the food choices made prepartum. The early days of motherhood, when a new mum is physically and mentally exhausted, and turning to snacks to keep her going throughout the day, will start to highlight the food habits developed over the previous ten months. Whether those habits were positive or poor, these old ways will become the norm.
So if doughnuts were the snack of choice when pregnant, then chances are this sugar-high habit will continue once the baby is born resulting only in a swift high, a crashing low and an expanding waistline! Instead, try fresh, colourful and crunchy foods, like apples, cucumbers, carrots, peppers and 1 to 3 litres of water daily as desired, alongside the occasional biscuit or pastry.
Self Care: The Top Tip For Losing The Baby Weight
The number one tip for losing weight comes down to something as simple as self-care and new mums finding ways to support their body each day on their journey back to their happy weight.
It is so easy to ignore personal needs and treat the body poorly during the early days of motherhood, and yet, the author of “Walking The Weight Off For Dummies”, Erin Palinski-Wade explains that dropping the weight gained during pregnancy is down to looking after yourself and taking the time to fit personal requirements into the hectic lifestyle of a new mother.
Here are some top tips for new mums looking to gently and healthily lose their baby weight:
- In the first six weeks postpartum when the body is craving rest and exercise is a no-no, remember to be patient with the body as it heals from the massive job it has just completed. Feed it well and rest when you can.
- During this time, get out and gently walk as much as possible with the baby in the pram. Fresh air is good for mental health, as is exercise, and it helps to shift the pounds.
- Fill the fridge and cupboards with healthy snacks and food, so there is no temptation to eat doughnuts!
- Order a healthy, weekly food delivery, so you are not drawn to buy biscuits and chocolate while walking around the store.
- Batch cook healthy meals and freeze them to save yourself from eating empty calories by grabbing a take away for dinner.
- Try not to worry about the washing piling up in the corner and instead sleep as much as possible. The more tired we are, the more we crave sugary treats filled with empty calories to boost our energy, and this is a surefire way to put on weight. Instead, go to bed when the baby does and call in friends or family to help you clean once a week until the baby is in more of a routine.
- After you have been cleared to exercise at the 6-week checkup, find a postpartum fitness class where the baby can join you. This will encourage great fitness habits and the desired weight loss. Alongside this, these kinds of social opportunities are so important to promote a healthy mind as a new mum. The fitness experts at Fit Day explain that “positive thinking plays a significant role in your weight loss efforts. Perpetual negative thoughts can lead to self-defeating behaviours [whereas] positive thoughts can increase your motivation and energy level.”
If you find that your weight is just not shifting and/or your BMI remains unhealthily raised, then you can speak to the health experts at Click Pharmacy. They can let you know if you would be eligible to take a treatment such as Alli to support your weight loss journey, as well as guide you in other ways to lose weight and feel better