Weight gain is a common concern for many women after pregnancy. Fats are stored and muscle expands as the body goes through tremendous changes in nine months, which makes weight gain almost inevitable. And while some naturally shed the excess weight after the baby is born, others continue to pile on the kilos.
This kind of weight gain can be difficult for many women to handle emotionally. It can feel like their bodies have been transformed irreparably and this, coupled with the impact of tiredness and the lifestyle changes involved in having a new little person to care for, can mean that the default setting is to find comfort in food.
Dubai resident Paulami faced this problem after having her little boy. At first the thirty-year-old was too busy to notice the weight gain, with mummy duties and housework taking up a lot of her time. However, as the kilos started piling up, her energy level started to wane. The more weight she put on, the more lethargic she felt. She could not find the energy to exercise, which meant she started gaining more weight in a vicious cycle.
This went on for years, until reality hit home at her son’s birthday party, when she saw a photograph of herself and was shocked to see how big she had become. Even her little boy asked why she was so fat, which of course really struck home like the innocent words of children often do. Sometimes, it takes a hit of reality for the message to sink in. This was her turning point. She knew she wanted to make the changes.
When Paulami came to me for help, I put her in a weight loss program that motivated her both to exercise more and make healthier food choices. She has since lost a massive 22 kilos and now spends up to four hours a week exercising. She told me the program fitted with her life, and the supplementary hypnotherapy sessions meant that her behaviour around food changed completely. "I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t even think about snacking on all that unhealthy food I’d been eating before and I actually felt compelled to exercise,” she said.
“Every positive change I made felt so natural, as if I’d been behaving like that for years. Looking at the pictures of the old me makes me feel strange. One thing I know for certain is I’d never go back to my old ways of eating and doing so little exercise. I’m just not like that now,” she said.
Weight loss tips
For new mothers, there are various weight loss regimes to follow, and one of the most natural ways to avoid weight gain after delivery is breast feeding, which also nourishes the baby and boosts the immune system. Nursing alone takes care of about 300 calories a day in the mother's diet. New mothers should give their body at least six weeks to recover from labour, and then start regular exercise. Anything to be physically active as possible will keep new mothers fit and healthy. Having a balanced diet also helps.
Top 5 food tips
1. Don't skip meals, particularly breakfast
2. Snack on fruits and vegetables instead
3. Choose foods that are heavy in nutrients but light in calories and fat, like fish (salmon, sardines and tuna)
4. Have milk and yogurt, which are high in the calcium and good for the bones
5. Don't forget protein like lean meat, chicken, beans and nuts to keep you feeling full longer
While diet is important, it is only part of women’s post-pregnancy weight loss plan. Doing exercise helps burn calories and at the same time helps new mothers cope with stress and depression. A simple brisk walk for 10 minutes helps as a starting point, and new mothers can then try to gradually increase this to 30-minute sessions.