I had taken a few months out from writing my blog as I have been busy enjoying being a mum. However, recently I have been getting enquiries about pre and post pregnancy diet and weight gain, so I thought I would share with you my experience!
During my pregnancy I gained almost 45 pounds (just over 3 stone), thats about 15-20 pounds higher than what is recommended. Did I worry, absolutely - every day, read more about my pregnancy weight gain worries. However,the fact that I was eating healthy and exercising throughout my pregnancy did ensure me that this amount of weight gain was right for me. I gained weight steadily but it did shock me by how fast it went on. I was insatiably hungry whilst pregnant and although I did allow myself the occasional treat, I ensured that all my snacks and main meals were balanced, wholesome and nutritiously healthy.
Four months on and I am now 2 kilos lighter than I was before I had Hugo. I was scared I wouldn't go back to my size before and that my tummy would never look the same again. However it does and I did! I was very lucky to have escaped having any stretch marks also - although I was religious with dry body scrubbing in the shower and massaging in oil into my skin in deep circular motions both morning and night.
I believe that my nutritious diet and exercise regime really helped me achieve this.
I knew that once I had the baby I was determined to get back into my 'skinny' jeans as soon as possible, but that I needed to be realistic. I set myself a time frame of 3 months. I was very lucky and I had an uncomplicated natural birth which left me able to be active (gentle walking) within just a few days. Although the first few outings I did feel as though I had run a marathon!
Here are a few steps that I took which helped me to regain my pre pregnancy shape.
1. I wore a post pregnancy girdle. I cannot comment on whether this did help my stomach shrink back to size as I can't compare it to not wearing one, however I am very happy with the results.
2.Exercise as soon as the Doctor gives you the OK! I started walking a few days after birth, although only slowly and built this up to 1-2 hour walks within 3 weeks. I then started running after my 6 week check and once again built this up slowly to 8-10km. I am now training for a half marathon in September and it is hard to find the time to run but I do.
Setting yourself a fitness goal is helpful in helping you achieve your goal. I continued to run throughout my pregnancy until about week 34 when I became too heavy and switched to walking, I think this helped me to bounce back quicker. Even today, I meet my mums in the park and we exercise with our babies - it is not always easy but we manage to do it because it's important to us.
3. Breastfeeding. This helps to naturally contract your uterus back and burns approximately 500 calories a day. It also helps to restore your iron levels by preventing ovulation. Breastfeeding has countless benefits for the baby and it is the best, best for your baby who gets milk tailored to its individual needs and best for you.
It can be incredibly hard to get the hang of breastfeeding, I was in tears for the first few weeks as my baby wouldn't latch and then I was struck down with mastitis twice, but even though at times I had wanted to give up, I stuck it out. Breastfeeding is continuing to assist me to lose weight - and I am now finding I need to eat more, so not to drop too much weight, a good problem to have I know! So, if you do find that once you are back to your pre pregnancy weight and are sill breastfeeding, do monitor your weight as you may well need a few extra snacks during the day.
4. Eat healthily. You do NOT need the 500 calories extra because of breastfeeding! No more cakes, even if you were enjoying them in pregnancy, I know I sure did! Your body naturally stores fat around your hips and bust during pregnancy for exactly this reason so you don't need more calories, just a healthy balanced diet. No skipping meals! Its very important you eat whole foods, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, low GI carbohydrates for energy and lean protein. You need to be nourished so you have the energy to look after your baby.
So, if you are able to breastfeed along with eating a balanced healthy diet, this will definitely speed your weight loss. I cooked healthy meals at home and did not go hungry! Once again, breastfeeding may leave you wanting more, just ensure you have plenty of healthy snacks to hand and ensure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
5. Get out of the house. It's hard but its important for you and your baby. We did this from day 1, in fact before we came home from hospital we went for a little celebratory drink at the pub - brave I know, but I wanted to feel normal and after all we had the best thing to celebrate ever! The joy of having a baby.
I was so scared that I would not be able to feel myself again and my body would not return to how it was - but by choosing the right foods and taking regular exercise it has done. It has taken me 3+ months but I got there! So if you are pregnant and reading this and are feeling worried, or have recently had a baby and are struggling to lose the baby weight, I hope you take some comfort in the fact that it is possible and you don't have to starve yourself or deny yourself to achieve it!
Love to you mumma's and mumma's to be!