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Get back to shape: Post-pregnancy weight loss

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 30, 2016 5:09:29 PM / by Ann Lopez Aziz

The desire to slip into that old skinny jeans as soon as you pack away those maternity clothes is something that resonates with most mothers.

It’s been weeks since your baby’s arrival. You were told that you would lose another two to three kilograms thereafter. You. Are. Still. Waiting. And like most mothers, you’re super keen to get your pre-pregnancy body back – and fast!

Weight loss after pregnancy hinges on healthy lifestyle choices.

But the postpartum weight loss conundrum is not all about losing the pregnancy weight. Timing and method are truly integral to losing weight as well as keeping the weight off. Mothers who are breastfeeding are advised to take extra precautions as a drastic drop in weight may pose a health threat.

To answer the often asked questions on the safe and best practices for post pregnancy weight loss, we decided to pick the brains of three health professionals: fitness instructor Choo Beng Kuan; pregnancy masseur Wendy Wan; and confinement nanny Mdm Pheng Chin Lai.

"After childbirth, most mums would feel tired and aches in their arms from constant lifting of baby and stroller, and strain in their back from poor posture as a result of heavier than normal breast and weakened abdominal muscles."

personal training for post pregnancy weight loss

Beng Kuan, the developer of the training program I am Trim and Fit for Life™, recommended new moms to wait six weeks after having their babies before starting any workout, whereas Cesarean section cases usually take longer. Nonetheless, he prompted mothers to get the all clear from your doctors first.

As exercise is not advisable during confinement, do simple stretches to strengthen and relax your muscles, to invigorate and refresh yourself. Beng Kuan shares his stretching tips for new moms in their confinement:

Chest Opener

Stand with feet hip-width apart and lace hands behind your head, with elbow wide. Keep your posture upright with your head facing forward and gently pressing into your hands. Inhale and then exhale as you straighten arms and palms up, leaning back slightly, and keeping both thighs and buttocks firm and your abs drawn in. Hold for two counts, breathe normally, as you feel relax and refresh in the stretch. Return to start position and repeat, as needed.

Calf and Hip Stretch

Stand with feet hip-width apart, then take a small step back with your right foot, toes pointing straight ahead and keeping the heel down. Keep your hand on hip, shoulder relaxed, back straight, buttocks tight and abs drawn in, as you gradually bend your left leg, keeping your knee in line with your ankle. Watch your balance and stretch to your comfort level, don’t over-stretch. Switch sides and repeat.

Chest Opener

Stand with feet hip-width apart and lace hands behind your head, with elbow wide. Keep your posture upright with your head facing forward and gently pressing into your hands. Inhale and then exhale as you straighten arms and palms up, leaning back slightly, and keeping both thighs and buttocks firm and your abs drawn in. Hold for two counts, breathe normally, as you feel relax and refresh in the stretch. Return to start position and repeat, as needed.

Calf and Hip Stretch

Stand with feet hip-width apart, then take a small step back with your right foot, toes pointing straight ahead and keeping the heel down. Keep your hand on hip, shoulder relaxed, back straight, buttocks tight and abs drawn in, as you gradually bend your left leg, keeping your knee in line with your ankle. Watch your balance and stretch to your comfort level, don’t over-stretch. Switch sides and repeat.

stretch exercises for post delivery weight loss

Lower-Back Stretch

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees bent, hands on thighs, fingers facing in. Lean forward from hips and point your tailbone back to straighten your spine. Inhale, then exhale as you round your back like a cat, drawing your abs in and bringing chin towards chest. Return to start position and repeat, as needed.

Brief Walk

During this time too, you could get out and take brief walks or move about at home, to exercise your muscles, ease your mood and reduce your risk of developing blood clots (common after childbirth). You do not need to leave your baby behind; put them in a stroller and take a walk together. Take it easy, do a little each day, and gradually increase the distance.

Kegel exercise for pelvic-floor muscles

Kegel exercise is a must for new mum as it strengthens the pelvic-floor muscles around the vagina, promotes healing after childbirth and helps prevent urinary incontinence. To do a Kegel, inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth, as you contract the muscles surrounding the vagina as if you are holding back a stream of urine. Hold it for two to three counts, breathing normally, then slowly release for two counts. Work up to holding the contraction for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times or three to four times over a day.

Don’t forget to sleep whenever you can to recharge yourself after day and night of frequent breastfeeding, diaper changing and attending to your baby.

At six- to 12-week postpartum, mothers are encouraged to walk and perform strengthening exercises that focus on toning the upper and lower body, and lower back. Beng Kuan prescribed: “You can gradually progress to two to three sets of these strengthening exercises, three to four times a week.”

From 12 weeks onwards, mothers may progress to light jogging and further strengthen and tone the arms and upper body with push ups and tricep dips to help get back in shape as well as cope with the weight of the growing baby.

The burning question on most mommys’ lips is: “How long to get back my pre-pregnancy shape?” To which Beng Kuan replied,”For most new moms, it may take as long as the pregnancy period, which is nine months, or more to get back to your ideal shape.”

Eating well is important for post-natal weight loss

The lean 45-year-old also highlighted that successful weight loss is not only about regular workout, but also about eating well. Here are Beng Kuan’s tips on a healthy diet:

Eat well

Choose healthful food and balanced meal. Go with lots of vegetables, which are rich in nutrients and fibre, low in calorie and fill your stomach easily. It provides the nutrients your baby and you need and aids your digestion (preventing constipation). Go easy on fruits although they are rich in nutrients but they may be high in calories especially the sweet ones. Include a good portion of protein especially fish diet like salmon which is also a good source of Omega-3, crucial for development of baby’s brain and nervous system and also helps prevent postpartum depression and enhances immune function in mom. Eggs and milk are also good to have as your healthful choice. Cook or drizzle with good oil such as the mono-unsaturated oil like olive oil.

Eat enough

Eat enough without being overly filled, to satisfy your hunger, pausing to check yourself after every few bites. If you really need to eat sweet desserts, take small portions.

Avoid or reduce these food

Consider cutting down or avoiding the simple carbohydrates like rice, pasta and noodles, which are low in nutrients and high in calories. Also to avoid are unhealthy snacks like chips and sodas (keep them far away from your sight). These food are not only unhealthy but also may stall your weight loss progress.

Drink plenty of water (at least 8 or more glasses a day)

It will boost your milk supply, help with your digestive system function (avoiding constipation as a result) and keep you full and away from your craving for snacks. Frequent breastfeeding is also a strategy to lose weight – yes, it could help you to lose as much as 500 calories, as study has shown.

The fitness professional advised moms to never set unrealistic weight goals or get stressed over it. Instead, give your body ample time to heal and to re-adjust to normality. “Be happy together as you spend every moment with your baby, and remember to involve your hubby,” he concluded.

"For pregnant women, limb water retention is usually an issue."

Three post-natal massages a week help post pregnancy weight loss

Good news moms – there are more ways to get back in shape. Pregnancy massage done in conjuction with regular exercise and healthy eating may help Moms get to their ideal shape quicker. As they say, good things come in threes. And we had the fantastic opportunity to speak to massage therapist Wendy, who saw many of her clients snap back into shape in only one month after delivery – wowzers! 

The Hong Kong-based therapist attributed it to a combo of breastfeeding, good confinement practice and trice-weekly massages.

The benefits of post-natal massage after childbirth:

  1. Helps reinstate the uterus to its original state.
  2. Eliminates excess body fluids, reduce fluid retention.
  3. Tones the over stretched areas of skin, especially over the abdomen.
  4. Promotes blood circulation within the body.
  5. Exfoliate dead cells and regenerate skin renewal.

Pregnancy massage is not only beneficial for new mothers but also expectant moms. Studies show that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Massage also improves lymphatic and blood circulation through “mild pressure” applied to the muscle groups of the body.

So you’re neither a new mom nor expecting? Fret not – there’s something for you as well. Massage therapists like Wendy also perform lymphatic massage, which promises a drop of a half dress size after the first visit!

But moms before you clamber to make any weight loss plans, Wendy advised that post-natal massages should only be done after the wounds have healed. And pre-natal massage is best done after the first trimester to avoid any complications due to the increased risk of miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. All in all, it is important to get the all clear from your doctor first.

Massage during confinement is good for weight loss after delivery

"Try to drink red date herbal tea daily – instead of water. Taking water might cause water retention."

Confinement nanny Mdm Pheng Ching Lai attested to the benefits of massage during confinement but strongly advised against losing weight during this period. A confinement nanny for 15 years, Mdm Pheng believes that exercise is best left till after the confinement period: “Try not to let the ‘wind’ get into the body, which might cause the body immune system to weaken causing body aches.”

The focus during the confinement month should be about re-aligning the Chi and healing. Mdm Pheng clarified: “The body weakens after birth due to the loss of blood, so during confinement period it is important to take more rest and take in nutritional food such as tonic, as much as possible.”

Mdm Pheng’s top 5 tips on losing weight for moms:

  1. Food with less oil
  2. Body massage and herbal wrap
  3. Swimming (after confinement)
  4. Breastfeeding
  5. Small meals instead of large meals.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article and the take-home tips shared by our health professionals. If you have stories or tips of your own to share, leave us a comment – we’d love to hear from you!

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Want to engage the service of a fitness instructor, a pregnancy massuer or a confinement nanny – like Beng Kuan and Mdm Pheng? Visit our 24/7 websites; CaregiverAsia or CaregiverNanny to match your care needs conveniently and affordably. Remember, we’ve got your (skinny) back!

www.caregivernanny.com by CaregiverAsia 

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Topics: Wellness

Ann Lopez Aziz

Written by Ann Lopez Aziz

Ann is a CaregiverAsia Powerpuff girl by day, mother by night. And a prudent Caregiver who believes balance is key. When not training for her next IRONMAN race, she scourers the neighbourhood for tasty epok-epok. Good thing she likes to share ‘cause sharing is caring!