By: Heather Keniston
You’ve had your precious little one. They are so cute and everything is perfect with the world…well, almost everything. Having a baby does a lot to a woman’s body and the evidence can stay there for a long time.
We all want that baby weight gone the second it appears on our bodies. We all want to look like we’re 17 again and we all want to rock our skinny jeans flawlessly like we once did.
Sadly, and much to all our dismay, losing the baby weight is not an overnight process.
In fact, losing baby weight can take a year or more. So maybe you’ve been working hard and seemingly taking all the right steps to ditch the baby weight, but you’re just not seeing the results.
The infamous question… WHY?
1. Sleep deprivation
Let’s face it, life isn’t as simple as it once was. There’s dirty nappies that need changing, middle-of-the-night feedings that must take place, there’s colic, then comes bottle struggles and teething, and on and on and on. We all miss those Saturday mornings when we could sleep in until 8:00am.
The reality is, getting no sleep can wear you down in a lot of ways. It’s no secret you’re more irritable, or that your sex drive is basically non-existent, but what could be a secret is the weight gain that comes from getting no sleep.
Your chances of becoming obese increases by 30% if you’re getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night according to Baby Shusher. In addition, your appetite can increase and you can develop cravings for unhealthy foods such as high-carb foods.
So, what can you do? Sleep deprivation comes with the job description of “new mum.” For starters, plan that your little one will wake up in the middle of the night and go to bed earlier. Don’t try to get extra house jobs done or stay up to fold your last load of laundry, after all your health is more important than a load of laundry. Get that extra sleep when you can. It’s also good to take naps, if possible, and catch up on the weekends if you have an extra set of hands around that can entertain your little one.
2. Zero motivation to exercise
This can happen before you even realise it. Especially if you’re tired all the time, the idea of getting up off the couch can sometimes feel like having to climb Mt. Everest. When you get to this point, it’s important to realize you’re doing all you can as a mum. We all want to look like the celebrities look. We all wonder why they have it so easy. They don’t. No mum does.
Stop rushing yourself and being so hard on yourself. You’re hurting yourself more than you will ever know with negative thoughts. Your body has just undergone an incredible transformation and you’ve brought human life into this world. Celebrate, don’t shame yourself. You. Will. Get. There. Wherever that is you want to be. Don’t think you have to have the same goals as celebrities, your friends, or family. It’s more important to be healthy and happy than to fit into that size you once were pre-baby.
It’s a gradual process and if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need extra calories and your baby needs those extra calories for the quality of their food. Your weight loss plan for the baby weight may extend past the earlier suggested year, but that's okay!
You can start reducing your intake of calories by a few hundred a day as you begin transitioning your baby to a bottle when you choose to make that transition. You can also begin walking a couple times each day for short intervals to build up your strength again. Again, no rush. No pressure. You do what feels comfortable to you.
3. Too much motivation
If you’re working out, you could be doing too much at the gym in hopes you’ll shed the pounds faster. Wrong.
When you’re burning a lot of calories in a day, your body is going to crave more food to compensate. Hence the downward spiral.
You can also injure yourself with too much exercise. The key to losing baby weight is listening to your body and doing what’s best for you. Not saying that pushing yourself a little here and there is a bad thing, just saying that your body has undergone a lot and you need to give yourself time to adjust to exercising again.
4. Your diet can be hurting you
If you’re transitioning to all healthy food right away and low calorie options, it can be hurting you and your baby. Again, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need the calories to be able to lactate. It takes energy to make this happen and low intake of calories could harm your breast milk supply. So, work with a lactation consultant about your personal goals to make sure you have a healthy balance.
It is okay to make healthy food options, but when your body needs more you should let it have what it needs.
Another damaging effect when it comes to food is the times you eat. If you’re skipping meals or eating whenever, it can hurt your baby weight loss goals as well. When you skip a meal, you tend to over-eat at the next meal time, which can put weight back on.
And how easy is it to snack at night, right!?!? When you’re up at night, breastfeeding and soothing your baby back to sleep, it is so easy to grab a biscuit or eat a “few” Cheetos. Try to resist the temptation, stay strong... Instead, drink a cup of warm milk or fix a cup of decaf coffee or tea. Those beloved biscuits can add extra pounds real quick and hurt your baby weight loss plan. But remember if you can’t one night, don’t be too hard on yourself.
As if that were not enough, it’s important to mention that you’re going through a lifestyle change and it’s easy to eat to make yourself feel better over the spilled breast milk or mashed carrots that ended up on the wall at dinner or how you forgot your sister’s birthday. Instead of food, just get away for a second or go for a walk or maybe just take a few deep breathes in another room. Breaking the habit of stress eating early will save your baby weight loss plan in the end.
At the end of the day, it's how you feel that’s important. You brought a baby into the world and that’s something to celebrate every day. Your sweet little girl or little boy does not look at you and see baby weight, or the 20 extra pounds you think you should lose. Instead, they look at you with so much love and admiration. Next time you look in the mirror, try looking at yourself the way your son or daughter looks at you and it will change your outlook entirely.