Keen to lose weight now that you're no longer pregnant? Many mums find that healthy weight loss is possible with an appropriate diet and regular exercise. But it is important to pace yourself when getting back into shape. Read on to learn about how to lose weight successfully and safely.

When can I start to lose weight after giving birth?

After giving birth, your body needs time to rest and recover. It is best to wait six weeks or so before you think about losing weight. If you had a caesarean delivery, you may need to wait a little longer until your body recovers fully. Talk to your doctor before you start. As soon as you are ready, start doing some gentle exercise. Most mums begin with walking, stretching and pelvic floor exercises. Build this up slowly. You may find that weight drops off quickly at first, but the last few pounds may be harder to shift. Don't expect a quick result. Getting back in shape will take time.

How can I lose weight safely after giving birth?

Eating well-balanced meals can help speed your recovery. It can also make it easier to keep up with the demands of being a new parent. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, aim to eat healthily. Try to eat sensibly when you are hungry. This will help you get just the right amount of energy. You may find that if you are breastfeeding, you get hungry a lot! This is because your body is working hard to feed your baby. These guidelines may help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight:

  • Make time for your meals, especially breakfast. Skipping meals can lower your energy levels and won't help you lose weight.
  • Eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables in a day.
  • Include plenty of fibre-rich foods such as vegetables, oats, lentils and grains in your diet.
  • Go easy on the special high-calorie foods given to women after birth, such as panjiri, ghee-laden dishes and fried dry fruits. Enjoy these tasty treats by balancing them with your meals. If you're eating a low-calorie meal such as khichdi, then you can have a high-calorie til ka ladoo at the end for example. But if you're eating aloo puri for lunch, you may want to save the panjiri for when you have a lower calorie meal.
  • Watch your portions at mealtimes. Small meals eaten often can help prevent overeating.
  • Drink plenty of low-calorie fluids like water, nimbu pani, coconut water, and fresh fruit juices. Lots of calories can be hidden in packaged juices, full cream milk and soft drinks.
  • Breastfeed your baby. Experts say that exclusive breastfeeding makes it easier to regain your pre-pregnancy shape.
  • Keep an eye on the number and type of snacks you have between meals. Opt for healthy and filling snacks like salads, fruit platters or a glass of toned milk.

With a new baby it can be hard to find time to take care of yourself. But it is important to lose weight carefully and slowly. Extra weight may increase the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes in your next pregnancy.

How do I lose weight if I'm breastfeeding?

Many women who breastfeed lose weight more easily because of the energy it takes to produce milk. Experts say that most women who exclusively breastfeed need around an additional 500 calories a day. However, the recommended calorie intake may vary from one mum to the other depending on her age, height, weight and physical activity levels. So, it's best to be guided by your body and your appetite. Keep in mind, that your body is highly efficient at producing breastmilk from what you eat so you do not need to have a particularly calorie-rich diet. Your body may have laid down fat stores during pregnancy, and breastfeeding can help to use up these fat stores. If you aren't breastfeeding, you might need to work harder to lose weight after giving birth. Start by eating a little less than you'd need to maintain your normal weight. But don't go on a strict diet. You will need plenty of energy to look after your baby.

When will I get back to my pre-pregnancy weight after giving birth?

If you ate healthily before and during your pregnancy, you may only need a few months to restock all the nutrients your baby needed to grow and develop. But, morning sickness, food aversions, or other pregnancy-related difficulties can make it hard to have a balanced diet. This may make getting back to normal take longer. It may take time even if you were a model eater. Most experts agree that eating a healthy diet as well as exercising often may help you shed off the weight faster. But take it easy. After all the changes of pregnancy, and the hard work of labour, your body needs time to get back in shape.

What else can I do for healthy weight loss?

You may find these suggestions helpful:

Consult your doctor before cutting back on any specific foods, or if you decide to go on a particular weight loss programme or diet.

Ask your husband and family to help you out. Use some of the free time to exercise and make a healthy meal for yourself.

Speak to your doctor if you've had complications like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, or pre-eclampsia. He can advise you on which foods to eat and avoid.

Keep your goals realistic. It may take several months to get back into shape.

Choose a diet plan that is healthy and practical for you. A diet that works for another mum may not suit you. A nutritionist can help you make a diet plan tailored for your body.