Pregnancy is the beginning of the most beautiful phase of a woman’s life. A woman’s body goes through numerous changes, both during and post-pregnancy. Therefore, more intensive care needs to be provided to the mother to experience a healthy pregnancy and motherhood. Postpartum is the period in which the baby has been delivered. During postpartum, the body is expected to go back to the pre-pregnancy stage. However, this period is not as easy as it seems. Many women worldwide face difficulties with postpartum weight retention, depression, and psychosis. These complications demand proper nutrition and medical care.
Women retain 5 kg or more of the pregnancy weight by twelve months postpartum. This can lead to serious health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in the future. Postpartum weight loss should be gradual and healthy. Extremely low-calorie and detox diets should not be followed as they might lead to nutrient deficiencies and certain diseases.
Let’s have a look at some tips for postpartum weight loss.
Pre-conception weight: Planning is the key to a healthy future. If you are planning to conceive, do visit your doctor and get your health checkup done. Women with BMI >30 Kg/m² are advised to lose at least 5% of their body weight before conceiving. Women with ideal body weight are more likely to experience safe pregnancy and childbirth. If any nutrient deficiencies are observed during pre-conception they can be cured with supplements and diet.
Pregnancy weight gain: The nutrition demands during pregnancy are at their peak. Continuous monitoring of body weight, height, and BMI is essential during this period. A total weight gain of 10-12 Kg during the complete gestational period is considered safe and normal. An increase of +350 Kcal in daily calorie consumption is recommended during the second and third trimesters. These increased caloric demands should be met by a balanced diet consisting of energy-dense nutrient-rich foods. Junk food, processed foods, and sugary beverages should be avoided. Women should engage in moderate physical activity and avoid a sedentary lifestyle during pregnancy. 30 minutes of brisk walking or swimming daily is advisable. Weight loss is not recommended during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding and postpartum weight loss: Breastmilk is a healthy source of nutrients and immunity for babies. But did you know that breastfeeding is beneficial to mothers as well? Studies have reported a postpartum weight loss of 0.7 kg/month during the first trimester in women who breastfed. 86% of the gestational weight can be lost in 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. This weight loss is due to the hormones released during lactation which inhibit fat deposition. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and introduction to complementary feeding with continued breastfeeding after 6 months.
Postpartum diet: The nutritional requirements during lactation increase. An increase of +600 Kcal in daily calorie consumption is recommended for the first 6 months of lactation while +520 Kcal is recommended for 7-12 months of lactation period. Vitamin and mineral-rich sources should be included in the diet. Supplements can be given to meet increased requirements. Low-calorie diets can decrease milk output and therefore should not be followed. Some important guidelines for the postpartum diet are:
- Consume complex carbohydrates and high-fiber foods
- The diet should be rich in whole grains, leafy vegetables, colored fruits, and vegetables.
- At least 1 liter of milk/day should be consumed.
- Fluid needs should be met by beverages and soups.
- Galactagogues increase milk production. A diet rich in galactagogues like garlic, milk, almonds, and garden cress seeds is beneficial to increase milk output.
- Deep-fried foods, junk foods, sugary beverages, desserts, and processed items should be avoided. The increase in energy needs should bemet by other healthy and nutrient-dense foods like south and gond laddu, badam kheer, carrot halwa, and paneer paratha.
- Caffeine should be limited to 2 cups per day and chocolate-containing foods should also be avoided.
- Physical activity: Postpartum physical activity is very important to lose weight. A sedentary routine and a calorie-dense diet can lead to weight retention. 30 minutes of exercise daily or at least 4 days a week is advised. Exercises like brisk walking, swimming, and stretching are good options to start with.
Talk to Gytree Experts for the right guidance on postpartum weight loss.