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Everyone talks about the joys of pregnancy – the 9 month long journey of transformation, feeling your baby kick in your belly, those regular sonography check-ups, listening to their heartbeat, and the list just goes on… But what people don’t generally talk about is the less romantic side of the story – the morning sickness, mood swings, and yes, the weight gain.
Many of us try really hard to go about losing those kilos post-delivery; after all, the mother’s overall health and fitness is important not just for her but also for her child. However, despite several efforts, we often find ourselves unable to lose weight. Where does the problem lie? Are we not eating right, or exercising enough…or is the reason something else altogether?
The medical advice for weight loss after delivery is to take it slow, especially if you’ve had a C-section delivery. In most cases, a proper exercise regime and a nutritious, balanced diet are able to do the trick. But if you find yourself unable to lose weight no matter what, the fault may not lie in your food or exercise. As per doctors, there are some lesser known but BIG reasons that contribute to a woman’s inability to shed weight after pregnancy!
Find out if one of these reasons could be hindering your post-pregnancy weight loss, and understand how you can fix it.
1. Insomnia – Lack of Sleep
Being a new mum is a daunting task indeed, and it implies you are losing your sleep (quite literally) over everything related to your baby. However, when you are sleep deprived, the hormones that affect your appetite get unbalanced. Your body speeds up ghrelin production (responsible for increasing hunger) and slows down the production of leptin (responsible for regularising appetite). In fact, doctors say that people who sleep for four hours or less in a day are more likely to consume more calories than someone who sleeps properly!
Solution: Doctors suggest that even if your baby’s sleep cycle is irregular, you should try to train your body to maintain a consistent schedule, especially regarding food. Eating the exact same thing at the exact same time everyday helps regulate your hormones and your appetite. Besides, try and coordinate the night feedings with your partner and make it a point to catch a nap whenever you can during daytime.
2. ‘Thyroid’ Weight Gain
Hormonal imbalance post pregnancy is nothing new for us. However, thyroid problem is a battle many women struggle with without knowing the extent of its impact. If you suffered from thyroid problems before/during your pregnancy, this will be an ongoing struggle for you. The thyroid gland is responsible for the rate of energy use in a human body. If there is a dysfunction in its working, losing weight becomes a huge challenge even if you reduce the calorie intake! If apart from inability to lose weight you’ve been experiencing frequent hair loss, lasting fatigue, poor skin, and a feeling of depression, you must get your thyroid levels checked.
Solution: A complete check-up is a must. Also, apart from regular exercise, consult a dietitian for a thyroid-specific diet that will help you take care of your nutritional needs. Proper medication, exercise and diet is the key to fixing this problem.
3. Too Much ‘Postnatal’ or ‘Nursing’ Food
After delivery, the elders in the family recommend a healthy postnatal diet for us. While this is often bland, it is intended to boost your milk production and help in your body’s recovery from childbirth. Although this nutritious diet is definitely very healthy and good for your body, there’s something called TOO MUCH of a good thing!
Very often, the postnatal diet consists of items like nuts (e.g. Panjeeri), brown rice, bakery items, and ghee laddoos. These are rich in fats. When you consume more calories that you can burn, it will get stored as fat!
Solution: Remember to be conscious of your portions sizes and try to avoid over-indulging or giving in to cravings. If you’re having problems with controlling portion sizes, discuss this with a dietician.
4. Over Exertion
Wait, how can this slow down weight loss? Exerting yourself should mean more weight loss, right? Not necessarily! If you think spending those extra 45 minutes at the gym is going to give you quicker results, it’s time to rethink that. As per experts, overexerting not only puts you at risk for injury and pelvic organ prolapse, it can also halt your weight loss efforts. Doctors also advise against too much cardio as it stimulates your appetite too much.
Solution: Instead of opting for high intensity workout, go for resistance training that targets the major muscle groups in the most effective way. A 25 minutes workout twice a week should do the trick. Also, keep the cardio low impact, as increasing the intensity slowly will give you a more effective and longlasting result.
Note: Make sure you check with your doctor before starting any postnatal fitness program or joining the gym. You should wait for at least six weeks, especially if you have had a C-section delivery.
5. Stress/ Emotional Eating
After your delivery, you are definitely high on emotions – and a vast range of emotions too! We often think that eating our way out of those sudden bouts of depression is the only solution. This is why we often tend to binge on unhealthy food and at strange times of the day (or night). But before you reach for your fridge to serve yourself a scoop of ice cream, stop and think – do I really need this right now? Chances are you will know that you don’t.
Solution: Instead of finding solace in food, take up fun activities with your little one. Put him in a stroller and go for a walk, or simply join yoga to help channelize your energy. Binge eating will never help.
6. A Leaky Gut
As weird as it may sound, this is a common post-pregnancy problem among women. Breastfeeding can cause low levels of oestrogen, which can affect your gastrointestinal tract (GI). This can lead to intestinal hyper-permeability, better known as the leaky gut syndrome. According to doctors, this increased permeability in the gut is also linked to increased visceral (deep) fat. When the GI tract doesn’t function properly, there is difficulty in digestion. Result: inability to lose weight.
Solution: Try including probiotics in your diet along with digestive enzymes. If you suffer from this problem, discuss with your doctor and minimize consumption of dairy products. You can also consider opting for a gluten-free diet.
Have you too been facing difficulties in losing post-pregnancy weight? How are you tackling the problem?