Body after baby – embracing your post-baby shape

body after babyWhether baby is brand new or closer to his first birthday, we have all wondered about our body after baby. The familiar refrain is ‘Where has my pre-baby body gone?’ and ‘When will I get my body back?’

In a world where we are bombarded with ‘thin is beautiful’ messages, it can be hard to accept the physical changes of pregnancy and motherhood as normal. This time of year I find it particularly noticeable, with all the weight loss ads sprouting promises to ‘shed those Christmas kilos’ and ‘get rid of those holiday pounds’. New mothers can face enormous pressure to lose weight – from society, their partners, other women and from themselves.

Please be gentle with yourself. During your pregnancy, the fat laid down has essential biological uses to assist with adequate growth and development of your baby.

Eat well and do some exercise. This does not necessarily mean intense gym sessions – exercise can be a walk with your baby in the carrier or pram. A healthy diet and regular exercise not only aids the physical but also the emotional wellbeing of the mother and baby. Getting out in the fresh air, eating good wholesome food and getting enough rest are essential for self-care during the baby days – and for life really!

There is a popular myth that says mothers will ‘lose their milk’ if they exercise.

Now is a great time to develop these healthy habits if they haven’t been part of your life before. There is a popular myth that says mothers will ‘lose their milk’ if they exercise. I’m not sure where this one started but I suspect it may have originated with mothers themselves who didn’t want to feel pressured to whip themselves back into shape!

If you really feel the need to lose some weight, do it gradually – and with the advice of your health care professional. Eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water is a good idea. Some women find that five or six small meals per day suit them better than the traditional three meals per day. The ABA booklet Breastfeeding; diet, exercise, sex and more, as well as the article Exercise and breastfeeding also have further ideas on good self-care.

Happy Mothering!

Janet Murphy
Courtesy Essence Magazine 2013

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