General weight gain and shape change after baby
Many (but not all!) women feel generally better about their bodies (or less critical in any case) while they’re pregnant. It’s all linked to ideas about growing the baby, your body doing a really important job, having a purpose to your changing body shape, and all that jazz.
Unfortunately, once the baby is out, often there’s a bit of a change of heart. Add to that the exhaustingly neverending supply of media articles about celebrities desperate to get down to their frighteningly small pre-baby sizes (does size 0 even exist??) and it’s no wonder we’re all feeling the pressure to go from rounded baby builder, to slim, trim ‘yummy mummy’.
Here are our thoughts on what is realistic on the post baby body front…
At a minimum, you likely to have put on at least 3kg of extra fat during pregnancy, but many women (hands up? Me!) put on much more. Now, don’t completely freak out, there is a purpose to it. Your body has been laying down supplies for breastfeeding and the sheer exhaustion of new motherhood. You’re not really interested in that right? What you want to know is how you can ditch that fat at the door.
You’ll probably have heard the following blanket statement that you’re hoping will apply to you – “While I was breastfeeding the weight just dropped off!” It seems that this is true for about half of mums. Great for them – not so great if you’re in the other half. Start off by giving yourself the first six weeks just to recover from labour and get your breastfeeding going. Don’t even think about consciously losing weight before then. After that, the best things you can do are get regular moderate exercise (that is appropriate for your level of fitness) and eat nutritious food (i.e. cut out the junk and takeaways). Remember to support your breasts properly with a good bra while exercising and drink plenty of water.
If you’re trying to lose a fair amount of weight, it’s best to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before undergoing massive changes to your diet. I dropped the first 6kgs of baby weight during labour and then it took me a hard grind for a year to drop the other 14kgs.
Also, plenty of women we know hadn’t lost their pregnancy weight by the time baby was a year old. This is totally normal, so don’t feel alone if this is you. Second time round I found it took a lot longer, things are generally wobblier, and I find my weight fluctuates a lot more as a busy life intrudes on the time I make for exercise.
Even if you do lose the weight, you may be quite a different shape, including having a larger overall clothing size. Why, why, why I hear you asking! During pregnancy, bubs takes up a lot of space that is usually filled by your all important organs. With a bit of reorganisation everything can fit. But to make sure the vital bits aren’t squished, your lower ribs may have flared out slightly to create bigger internal space and can take months to narrow back down again.