Dear Dr Joe,
My baby is 2 months old now and I want to get my old body back. I’ve always been a healthy weight, but healthy food, light exercise and breastfeeding alone aren’t working. I don’t want to exercise too heavily as my milk supply cuts down. When should I expect to get my normal body back and how do I do it?
Dr Joe Kosterich MBBS, General Practitioner and Editorial Advisory Board Member of the Virtual Medical Centre and Parenthub responds:
The most important thing after childbirth is not to put pressure on yourself. Whilst magazines feature celebrities who supposedly get their body back “three seconds” after giving birth, this is not normal.
You need to allow at least six months and perhaps longer if you are still breastfeeding at that stage. The keys are the basics. Regular physical activity is important. You can do yourself and baby plenty of good by taking your baby on walks with you. Yoga and pilates are also great forms of exercise. With diet be aware that whilst feeding you are still eating for two so this is not the time for strict dieting.
Once around nine months have elapsed, you can get a bit more “focused” with weight loss if you want to. Your exercise regime can increase and as baby will not be totally reliant on you for feeding you can restrict your calories a bit more. Some women want to breastfeed to two years or more and the same principle applies. Don’t go on any fad diets or very low calorie or unbalanced diets whilst you are breastfeeding. And don’t be so strict that you go hungry or get over-tired. Drinking lots of water helps and many find eating regular small meals helpful.
Aim to have some protein with each meal as it makes you feel more satisfied than just carbohydrates and hence you eat less.
If you are looking to lose the weight before getting pregnant with the next one, it is not absolutely essential to lose all your pregnancy weight before falling pregnant again. However the closer you can get, the less you then need to look to lose after the next pregnancy.
Eat mainly fresh foods and minimise the amount of processed and packaged foods. Drink lots of water and avoid soft drinks and fruit juices (which are often full of sugar).
But above all else be realistic and allow time – this is not a race.