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The thought of losing weight is probably something that is on every woman’s mind, 24/7, rent-free.
In a world that has a growing obesity pandemic as the whole world globalises, this phenomenon is a by-product of the mixture of societal pressure, marketing campaigns drilled into our brains, and also health standards that we all strive to achieve.
Our innate need to be better versions of ourselves is deeply rooted. Although breastfeeding mothers experience unintentional postpartum weight loss while breastfeeding , there can be a desire to lose weight more rapidly or to meet their lifestyle or fitness goal while also maintaining a positive breastfeeding experience.
The desire to snap back into shape like how you used to be is real and if it’s for all the right reasons, we should support mothers during this journey so that mothers lose weight gradually and healthily.
It is important to note that 3 to 4 kg of fat gained during pregnancy is important and natural for the body to do so in order to ensure that the body has energy stores to provide breast milk production. The body stores these fats in case of any food shortage which is an important evolutionary adaptation.
One thing we can celebrate is that women who breastfeed frequently throughout the day and sustain breastfeeding for 9 months or longer tend to retain or gain more muscle mass with weight loss compared to women who nurse infrequently and for a shorter duration.
Overall, breastfeeding mothers lose weight faster and return to pre-pregnancy weights at a faster rate than their non-breastfeeding counterparts. So, if you are able to breastfeed, breastfeed! As you walk into your journey to lose weight after giving birth, keep in mind 5 different focuses.
#1 Focus on fully recovering
It is imperative that mothers should focus on eating well to get better first. Whether you gave birth vaginally or through cesarean section, bleeding during the first week is common. There is the discharge of lochia, expelling of the placenta as well the uterus contracting back to a smaller size. Your body is trying to achieve electrolyte balance in the body that does not hold a baby anymore. Many mothers may also have wounds that need to heal. Thus, aggressive movements should be avoided. Extreme dieting during this period should be avoided as well as lack of nutrition will only delay recovery and wound healing. Confinement food menu in Singapore tries to nourishing foods during confinement so that they can support mothers through the recovery process.
#2 Focus on breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is normally encouraged within the first hour after giving birth. Babies are encouraged to latch on and suckle on the breast. For some mothers, breast milk is available even during the 3rd trimester, for other mothers breast milk only comes with stimulation at the breast by the baby. The more the baby nurses, the more breast milk will be produced by the body. Thus, eating well to support your body in recovery while breastfeeding is essential. Without eating well, you would easily feel exhausted. In severe cases, inadequate dietary intake may lead to lesser breast milk production too. Thus, it’s important to eat well and not be busy cutting calories to lose weight. You can take comfort in knowing that without calorie restrictions of exercise, generally, breastfeeding women tend to lose weight more rapidly than their non-breastfeeding counterparts up to 6 months postpartum.
#3 Focus on cooking methods
When it comes to fat loss or gain, calories matter but that does not mean you have to count your calories. There are many other ways to create a calorie deficit and improve your diet. Firstly it’s by looking at the different cooking methods. Cooking methods that use less fat would mean fewer calories. Thus, as often as possible cooking methods like steaming, boiling, light stir fry or baking can be a lower calorie option. Another method is to also limit sauces and gravies as they are much higher in calories. If you are a person that likes your meals wet, instead of pouring gravies over your rice, you can pour herbal or clear soups instead.
#4 Focus on food choices
Other methods to keep overall calories lower are by sticking to water and zero calories drinks such as plain tea, plain coffee, or zero sugar carbonated drinks. During meal times, you should prioritize protein as protein will keep you full for longer. Yes, adding more vegetables will help to create more bulk without many calories to your meal so that you can achieve satiety, but it may not be able to sustain you throughout the day. Adequate protein is very important, eating too little of it will not help your body to build lean muscle mass as you lose weight. An average woman would need roughly about 60 to 70g of protein per day, depending on your fitness goals and physical activity.
#5 Focus on being active
As soon as your doctor gives you the green light to be physically active, you should try to move. You can start with just walking and having light stretches. As soon as you are ready, gradually increase the intensity as your body recovers and becomes stronger. Aim for 150 to 300minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week and muscle strengthening exercises at moderate to vigorous intensity twice per week. There are clear benefits to being active after pregnancy such as improved mental health, bone density, reduced stress level, and better weight management. High intensity exercises can increase lactic acid concentration in breast milk but there are no side effects to the milk supply or the quality of the milk. A healthy weight loss rate is defined as not more than 1kg per week. More than 1kg per week of weight loss is not recommended in breastfeeding mothers.
All in all, mummies who are healthy and happy will be able to attend to their babies well! So, do not hesitate to reach out to your friends and family whenever you need help during this journey of motherhood.
All of us would like to see you succeed and enjoy motherhood.
We want to be a community that supports mothers to be the best that they can be for their little ones and their family.
The best confinement meals in Singapore are the ones that support you to recover well during confinement. Chinese confinement food provides traditional dietary aspects which may be something some mothers prefer having. So long it’s balanced and you’re taking sufficient vegetables, staples, and protein every day, such a meal can support you to recover well too.