Weight gain is common during pregnancy. The weight gained during pregnancy is linked to your pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy is vital for the long-term health for you and your baby.
A woman's body changes during pregnancy to ensure that her unborn baby gets adequate food required for the development of the baby. Women usually gain more weight in the final months of pregnancy than the first few months. According to a research study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, pregnancy weight gain consists of the baby, amniotic fluid, placenta, blood, breast tissue, enlargement of the uterus and extra fat . The extra fat is stored up as energy which is needed during birth and breastfeeding.
According to the recommended guidelines of The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM), women who are of normal weight before pregnancy with a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 gain between 11.5 and 16 kg weight during pregnancy . However, most women gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy and this causes the baby being born too large, which can lead to caesarean delivery and obesity during childhood and also it increases the risk of obesity among mothers .
Holding on to pregnancy weight after your pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of health problems like heart disease, diabetes and obesity .
So, it is important to lose weight after pregnancy to lower the risk of these health problems. We've listed down some effective tips to lose baby weight after pregnancy.
Some studies suggest that breastfeeding can help in losing postpartum weight. A 2019 study pointed out that breastfeeding can help in losing weight after pregnancy. However, during the first three months of breastfeeding the changes in your weight may not be noticeable due to increased calorie intake and decreased physical activity during lactation .
In addition, breastfeeding your baby is important during the first six months or much longer as breast milk provides nutrition, strengthens immunity and lowers the risk of diseases in newborn babies .
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Keeping your body hydrated after pregnancy is essential as it has been shown to increase breast milk production . Also, several studies have pointed out that mothers should increase their water intake during and after pregnancy  .
As a general rule, studies have shown that drinking plenty of water increases feelings of fullness, which can help in weight loss . However, studies are inconsistent about water consumption and postpartum weight loss.
Not getting enough of sleep may negatively affect your weight. A review study showed that lack of sleep can increase more weight after pregnancy .
A healthy diet combined with physical activity plays a major role in postpartum weight loss. Eating healthy and nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy will provide your body with the necessary amount of nutrients and also will aid in weight management  .
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Processed foods are loaded with unhealthy fats, salt, sugar and calories that are harmful to your health and also contribute to weight gain. So, it is recommended to decrease the intake of refined grains and sweetened beverages and increase the intake of fresh, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fat and legumes .
Foods which contain added sugar are sugar sweetened drinks, fruit juices, cakes, biscuits and pastries. These foods have been shown to increase weight as they are high in calories. Studies have shown that to prevent weight gain after pregnancy, avoid high-sugary foods such as sweetened beverages, soda and desserts .
Hunger cravings can come at any time and that doesn't mean that you reach out for a box of cookies or biscuits. These foods are high in calories and added sugar which will help in further weight gain. To lose baby weight effectively after pregnancy, reach out for healthy snacks to curb your hunger cravings, which include mixed nuts, fresh fruits, vegetables with hummus, Greek yogurt with homemade granola .
After delivering your baby, your body requires a good amount of nutrition to provide you energy and help you recover. Following any diet will limit you from eating certain foods that are a good source of nutrients. Eat fresh and healthy foods as they are rich in fibre, protein and other essential nutrients that will help you lose weight .
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Mindful eating is the awareness of food in the moment while you are eating your meal. It helps you enjoy your food by allowing you to experience every taste and flavour of the food. Chewing your food slowly has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and aid in weight management .
Physical activity is important after pregnancy as it lowers the risk of obesity and aids in weight loss. Many studies have shown the association between physical exercise and postpartum weight loss  .However, make sure that you do not perform any strenuous physical activities. Try doing simple exercises like walking, cycling or jogging.
Note: Ask your doctor what kind of exercises you can safely do.
Keeping a track of your portion sizes is important when it comes to losing weight as it helps you know how much you are eating and if you are facing any problems in your eating plan. You can keep a check on the intake of your food by maintaining a food diary.
Alcohol consumption has been linked to weight gain and obesity. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol leads to postpartum weight gain . In addition, the CDC recommends breastfeeding mothers to avoid drinking alcohol as it can disrupt the growth and development of the infant .
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Stress and depression are common during the postpartum period. Several studies have shown that stress and depression increase the likelihood of postpartum weight gain. To lose weight effectively, identify what is stressing you out and find ways to cope with it. If you are finding trouble to cope with it, don't feel afraid to reach out for help  .
If you are determined to lose weight after pregnancy, follow a realistic goal that will help you achieve good results. Maintain a good eating plan and physical activity as it will help you achieve your weight loss goal.
Your body requires time to heal and recover from childbirth. If you start losing weight soon after your childbirth, your body will take a longer time to recover. If you are breastfeeding, wait until your baby has turned two months old and your breast milk supply has normalised.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, you should plan to return to your normal weight by 6 to 12 months after delivery.
Q. How long does it take to lose baby weight postpartum?
A. Most women lose half of their baby weight by six weeks after giving birth and the rest of the weight is shed off over the next several months.
Q. What diet is best after pregnancy?
A. A diet rich in healthy foods such as lean protein, fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and dairy is best after pregnancy.
Q. How long does it take a woman's body to fully recover from pregnancy?
A. Recovering fully from pregnancy can take some time. Many women recover by six to eight weeks, while others may take longer than this.
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