Recently there are quite a few new moms around me, and Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so I thought I would share some experiences on getting back in shape after pregnancy.
I have seen quite a lot of moms who have gained weight from their pregnancies, and were unable to shed them off afterwards even years later.
I have two children who are now 6 and 3. When I was carrying my first baby I was still working in the finance field which required long hours and quite a bit of traveling. I remembered I was still running around for a road show in various cities in China when I was 8 months pregnant. Even though I have not really started getting into exercise at that point, I guess I was rather active running around. Second time around I was already a full time mom. I got to do some swimming, a little bit yoga and lots of walking throughout the pregnancy.
In terms of diet I always ate a lot. But I ate especially well. The Chinese traditionally have a lot of food guideline and restrictions for mothers-to-be. For example, we are not supposed to have any cold drinks or food that are cold in nature in the first half of pregnancy. We are supposed to eating a lot of food containing “collagen” (which is protein really…) so the baby will “stick”. Lots of herbal soup. Bottom line is, junk food and processed food is definitely a no-no for moms-to-be.
For both pregnancies I gained 35 pounds, which for my built is considered on the high border line. Both my babies were healthy 7 pounders when they were born, and both times after I gave birth minus all the water etc. I had 23 pounds to lose to get back to my pre pregnancy weight.
If the Chinese are strict about pregnancy diet, post pregnancy comes even more strict. The Chinese believes the first 3 months (especially the first month) after pregnancy is very important to restore the body of the mom after the “big event” and of course they want to make sure we eat well to feed our babies. This “confinement” period is so important we would hire “confinement nannies” to cook special food for us. I was having 4 bowls of ginger chicken soup or fish soups (fish soups help with milk production especially when paired with papaya!!) on a daily basis. Then I eat a lot of fresh protein, only steamed (no deep fried food allowed!!), plenty of warm natured veggies (no salads are not allowed as they are too cold!) and plenty of rice for the energy. We use a lot of healing food in the cooking like almonds, goji berries etc. As I am married to a Western guy I don’t normally get to enjoy that much traditional chinese food so my confinement month was definitely a “heavenly” month for me. I ate so well most of the time I would hardly be able to shed any pounds in this first confinement month after pregnancy (another reason is we are not allowed to exercise in the first month. The confinement month is literally called “sit-for-the-month” in Chinese) but I usually feel good and bright and energetic despite the sleepless nights with a newborn baby. And through the healing food it restored the body, even fixing a lot of deep, old toxins in the body. I used to have headaches and migraines all the time growing up, but I no longer suffer from them after my pregnancies.
I started exercises in the second month, and for both pregnancies I dropped by to my pre pregnancy weight in 4-5 months. I did not really do any vigorous exercise, especially for the second one as I had a Caesarean Section. I just walked the baby in the stroller, took some mild jogs and a little bit of yoga. I think you do want to trim down the weight gradually soon enough after pregnancy, as soon as the body is more recovered. If you wait for a year the pounds are going to be harder to get rid of. I know it is harder to do than say when you are tired and busy with a newborn, but it is also important for you to take a break from the baby from time to time to keep a sane mind. Get some help. You need that time for yourself, and the best way to “pamper” yourself is to get your body back in good shape. At least that’s how I felt.
Here are my 5 tips to get back in shape after pregnancy:
- The fact that you are pregnant does not mean you can eat anything. You can eat more, but healthy, natural food. Enjoy your pregnancy. Enjoy the lovely nutritious food that is feeding your baby.
- Take some mild exercise like walking and yoga. Yoga is a great mild exercise in recovery stage after pregnancy. At the same time yoga can help to reduce water retention, something that is very common for new mommies.
- Rest well. I know it’s hard to do, especially for first time mothers. All you want is to hold and stare at your baby the whole day. But trust me, you need rest. You need enough sleep so that you have enough energy to look after the baby. Also, if you do not have enough sleep, metabolism goes down and it’s harder to shed off the pounds. I also found myself making bad food choices when I do not sleep enough.
- Find some quality time for yourself. I know it’s easier than said when you have a small baby who wakes up every few hours needing to be fed or changed. But you need to find sometime for yourself to keep you sane. Ask your husband or the grannies to help so you can take an hour off to the yoga class or to get a facial or massage. When you treat yourself well you are more motivated to get back in shape. In Hong Kong there are also special post natal massages and wrap services where you can enjoy a lymphatic drainage massage and a tummy wrap at your own home. Here are two of the services I would recommend.http://www.restoringmoms.comhttp://www.mummiesbellies.com
- After pregnancy, continue to eat well. For exercise you want to start early. Wait till you recover but you do not want to wait for a year or wait until you are done with all the baby making.
Unfortunately there is one thing that you cannot avoid even you go back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Your tummy skin will be loose once you lose the belly fat. And the only way to make it less obvious? Is to train your abs with muscles. With the abs muscles your tummy will look more toned instead of a big flap of loose skin.. which is what I am working on….
Sorry to any guys who are reading this article… As you probably found it so boring… But I hope this can give some insights to the ladies…