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Returning to your per-pregnancy weight

Returning to your per-pregnancy weight


The greatest amount of weight loss occurs in the first 3 months after birth and then continues at a slow and steady rate until 6 months after birth . Breastfeeding helps you return to your per-pregnancy weight as some of the weight you gain during pregnancy is used as fuel to make breast milk. Healthy eating and regular physical activity in the postnatal period will also help you to lose the weight gained during pregnancy

Future pregnancies

If you are planning another pregnancy, it is a good idea to return to your pre-pregnancy weight first, or close to this. Starting your pregnancy at a BMI above the healthy weight range puts you and your baby at greater health risks during pregnancy. Retaining excess weight over subsequent pregnancies increases your risk of lifestyle diseases. Speak to your dietitian for more advice.

Being active during pregnancy

1. How much is enough

To get the most health benefits, a good goal is at least half an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably, all days. You do not have to do it all at once. Your exercise can be spread over the day, in ten-minute blocks. Try three ten minute walks, or two fifteen-minute periods of activity.

2. What does moderate-intensity activity mean

Moderate-intensity means you are exercising at a comfortable pace. A good guideline is the ’talk test’ — you should be able to easily hold a conversation without being short of breath.

3. Benefits of being active include:

  • Less lower back pain
  • minimal nausea
  • Less heartburn
  • Lower stress levels
  • More energy
  • Better bowel habits better sleep
  • Being more relaxed
  • Less anxiety

4. What are some activities that I can do

Many activities are safe during pregnancy including:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Cycling on an exercise bike
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Low-impact aerobics, like water
  • Light resistance gym program

Classes that specially cater to pregnant women may be more suited to your needs and body changes during your pregnancy. They can adapt exercises for you, such as having you lie on your side as you exercise rather than on your back, which is not advised throughout your pregnancy.
Remember that incidental activity counts too! This is physical activity that builds up as part of everyday activities. Try to:

  • Use the stairs instead of the lift
  • Park your car further away from the shops
  • Get off the train or bus one stop early and walk home
  • Be active around the house or garden

Most activities are safe, as long as you:

  • Take things easy
  • Stop when you are tired
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Wear suitable clothing
  • Do not become overheated
  • Stop the activity if you experience any pain that doesn’t settle quickly.

5. Avoid:

  • Excessive stretching — Your ligaments can be softened by the hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  • Be careful with side kicks in aqua-aerobics and swimming breaststroke.
  • High impact activities or contact sports — These include running, surfing, water skiing, trampolining, gymnastics, netball, touch football or squash.
  • Activities that may limit your oxygen supply— two examples are scuba diving and mountain climbing.

6. How can I keep motivated

  • Plan to do an exercise class each week or to walk with a friend.
  • Do exercises that you enjoy.
  • Remind yourself of how good you feel when you do and after you are active.
  • Remember the benefits of being active during pregnancy.

7. When to stop physical activity

If you experience any of the following symptoms during or after physical activity stop and talk to your doctor:

  • Contractions
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or unusual shortness of breath
  • A headache
  • Decreased fetal movements
  • Sudden swelling of ankles, hands and face.


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