“I’m a new mum and I put on a lot of weight during pregnancy and still seem to be gaining—is this normal?”
POSTNATAL FITNESS EXPERT, WENDY POWELL SAYS
“This is normal but every pregnancy is different—some women gain a lot of weight (2½st or more), while others gain very little (less than 1st). At the risk of stating the obvious, not all the weight you gained in pregnancy was fat—don’t forget the baby, placenta, extra blood and water. Additional fat accounts for around 20 per cent of pregnancy weight gain, and this is what will remain after giving birth.
“Putting on weight during pregnancy is healthy and means your child is growing well. It took nine months to develop your baby, so expect it to take at least that long, if you’re eating healthily and being active, to return to your old weight. The fat your body stores is affected by hormones, stress and sleep—as these can all be unsettled after giving birth, they can impact on your weight.
“Insulin and cortisol are hormones that help regulate fat storage. Eating sugar increases insulin levels in your body, and cortisol levels are increased by stress. Not getting enough sleep also raises cortisol levels, and lack of sleep is inevitable for a new mum. But lifestyle changes can have a dramatic effect on our body’s predisposition to hang onto fat, so how you balance your hormones can help you stop gaining weight. The two most fundamental dietary changes you can make are to increase your intake of essential fats (from foods such as salmon and walnuts) and decrease the amount of sugar you eat as a new mum. “But remember, not all calories are created equal. The overall number of calories matters, of course, but quality is important, too. Try to eat mostly veg, followed by protein, with the smallest portion being starches or grains. Protein increases levels of other hormones (HGH and testosterone) which will help bring down insulin levels.
“Certain types of exercise are better at burning fat. High-intensity (but not high-impact) interval-based workouts are best in terms of weight loss (and time) for new mums. Make sure your workout includes resistance training using weights or your body weight. “Ultimately, it may be hard as a new mum, but try to get plenty of sleep, too.” ♦
FIT IT IN
NO NEED FOR EXPENSIVE GYM MEMBERSHIPS—JUST GO FOR A WALK WITH YOUR BABY IN THE PRAM TO TONE YOUR BUM, LEGS AND CHEST
1 Standing tall, place hands shoulderwidth apart on the stroller’s handlebar, pulling shoulders back and down.
2 Push the stroller and take a big step with your right leg, bending your knees.
3 Rise up by stepping your left foot forward and placing it next your right.
4 Repeat, this time lunging with your left foot, to complete one rep. Do 10 reps to work your bum, legs and chest.