Of course, there is enormous pressure in our modern, western culture to return to your pre-birth body in what can seem like less than a fortnight after giving birth!
The media is crammed with images of rich, and famous celebrities who are supposedly back to their original slender selves almost on the day they are discharged from their exclusive, private clinics. You may even torment yourself with negative thinking about your own body shape, and size, and castigate yourself for not being fully back to the old you.
Many new mothers put enormous pressure on themselves to be Super-mums, and in this age of gossip magazines, and digitally enhanced photos there are many ways you can judge yourself, and feel as if you are failing, and those negative feelings can make successful weight loss even harder to achieve, or maintain.
No one knows this better than therapists Liz Hogon and I who specialise in resolving issues around emotional eating so that people who struggle with weight loss can finally be successful. They are also the co-authors of the just-published book, ‘7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating’ (Hammersmith Press 2015).
We see many new mothers desperate to regain their pre-baby body weight, and figure and they would like to share here seven of the top tips that have evolved through their experiences of working with many women facing this similar challenge.
In our therapeutic experience of reviewing client’s food diaries, we have found that most new mothers are under eating, and not over-eating. If that sounds untrue for you then for a week jot down what you actually eat. Look at your notes, and underline nutritional foods you have eaten that provide real nourishment for you.
Often it is not what you eat but what is eating you that will keep the extra weight stuck. If you are stressed, overwhelmed or unhappy then weight loss is more of a challenge so it is important to do whatever small, manageable things you can to help you de-stress, and rest. We understand what a huge challenge this can be with a new baby.
Here’s a double whammy for you - at a time when you are totally exhausted it is important to remember that your body can often confuse being tired of being hungry. You will find your weight loss, and life in general, of course, much easier if you are properly rested. That may sound like the holy grail for new mothers who are desperate for sleep but it can help if you’re able to undertake the absolute minimum amount of distractions other than what your baby, and you need to flourish and thrive.
Most other things can wait, or better still be delegated.
Just as exhaustion can confuse your body, then being under hydrated can do the same. Ask yourself ‘Am I hungry or thirsty?’ Drink a long drink of water, and re-assess your appetite.
Women who are critical, and unhappy with the changes in their body’s shape after childbirth can often disconnect from their own bodies, feeling embarrassed, or even ashamed of the physical changes. It is a vital part of healing, and moving forward to acknowledge deep within yourself that your body has done the very best it could throughout your through your pregnancy, and giving birth.
You can impart this important message by reconnecting to your physical self through gently stroking, or massaging your own body after bathing, or by stroking your post-birth tummy in bed. Silently tell your body you know what it has been through, and how hard it has laboured. Reassure yourself that you will provide your body with the best nourishment you can and that it is safe for it to let go of any excess weight now.
Just as you are particular about what you feed your baby then raise your own bar to be particular about what you eat too. There is a growing realisation in the medical profession of the links between food, and moods. It is important to eat the best quality food you can afford - looking for good quality protein, and a rainbow variety of vegetables on your plate at every meal time. If the meals you are eating are predominately beige in colour then that can be an indicator that they are nutritionally poor.
Your body will more easily return to its pre-baby shape, and weight if you are eating highly nutritious, home-cooked food - preferably cooked by someone else for now.
Remember your body has always changed, and transformed itself. Look at how it has changed from when you yourself were a child, with even more radical physical changes taking place throughout your pregnancy, and the birth of your child.
You can be reassured and reminded that your body can change again. It takes the time it takes, and the more able you are to rest and take care of yourself physically, and emotionally then the quicker this can happen for you.
Contact me if you feel lost in your post-childbirth world and need some help to reconnect with who you truly are. You can schedule a 30-minute discovery call at the top of this page.