Becoming a new mother is truly a great blessing to be granted. From hearing the first heartbeat, to feeling the first kicks and finally meeting the little human that has been growing inside of you for 9 months. But for those of you who thought pregnancy was hard (I being one of those people), wait until they are out into the world, with endless hours of sleep deprivation, nursing every 2-3 hour or even hourly when they hit a growth sprout, countless diaper changes and the list goes on. I am not here to complain about motherhood but to tell it like it is rather than feed you the lies we see on social media of mothers who have it all together which is far from the truth. The primary focus of todays blog will be on the postpartum body.
Throughout the 9 months of pregnancy we see the human body change gradually as the days go by. Some changes we are far more accepting of compared to others. We embrace our thick and rapid hair growth, healthy nails, clear and glowing skin with open arms. However, once the last stretch of pregnancy approaches, we see the rapid weight gain, stretching marks spreading all over the stomach, and swelling legs that we can’t wait for the pregnancy to finally be complete so we can get our bodies back to pre-pregnancy. The images we are confronted with on social media of women losing all their pregnancy weight in 3-6 weeks leads us to creating unrealistic expectation for ourselves when in reality it will take a lot longer. What adds to the pressure of achieve these unrealistic goals is the negative comments that our own family and friends make about the weight that a women gains throughout pregnancy from “Wow you know you gained a lot of weight during your pregnancy!” or “ you still have not lost the pregnancy weight?”.
What we must understand is that it took 9 months to create this precious human which means it will take 9 months or more to lose the weight. This is easier said than understood, as I myself have a lot of trouble accepting this. I started off by constantly monitoring my food and checking my weight and this did me no good as it only made me frustrated when I did not see progress happing as fast as I wanted to. It also led me to lose sight of the great blessing I have been bestowed of having been able to have a child. Once I came to this realization, I decided to change things up and simply take each day as it comes, making small but consistent changes to my lifestyle and spending more time obsessing over my child rather than my body.
Here is my advice to the women who have just had children and are working on their postpartum body:
- Accept that the process of weight loss post partum will take time possibly months or even years
- Ignore the negative comments that don’t help you achieve your goal
- The first few weeks postpartum are the hardest, the best thing you can do for your self is to get rid of social media as it will take away from those negative comparisons and unrealistic expectations you will make
- Make small but consistent changes, start with increasing your intake to 8-10 cups daily or limiting your junk intake to once a week
- Nurse as often as possible as you burn approximately 500 calories daily from nursing
- For those women who are nursing try to maintain a caloric intake of 1500-1800 daily and no less tha that as your body needsthe energy to make the milk for your child
- Once you have clearance from your healthcare provider on your 6 weeks postpartum appointment, start engaging in physical activity and you don’t have to leave your house to do that as Youtube has plenty of exercise videos for you to follow along
- Surround yourself with people who support you as that will motivate you to keep going
- Make short term goals rather then focusing on longterm goals that can take time to achieve, this will allow you to stay motivated
- Celebrate the small successes, every time you hit the 5 pound mark or ate clean for a whole month reward yourself, you worked hard so you deserve it!
And of course here is some advice to family and friends of women who just had children:
- Follow the advice of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) “speak a good word or remain silent” keep in mind that this is a difficult time not only physically but mentally and spiritually for a women so no negative comments are warranted as they only add to the stress or frustration a women may be experiencing
- Provide endless support and motivation to keep the women’s spirit high
- Offer to take care of the child so the mother can have some me time for some physical activity and mindful mediation
The bottom line is that having some extra weight post pregnancy is more common than not. And although it is strongly beneficial for your own health and future pregnancies to lose some of this extra weight, it is important to understand that it will take time. So do your best to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and surround yourself with a good support system as those are the keys to achieve your weight loss goals.