Helping women lose mummy tummies
GAINING weight during pregnancy is a natural part of the childbearing process and women should not put too many expectations on themselves to lose it quickly following birth, a local expert has said.
But with a host of female celebrities shedding their baby bump almost instantly, women often feel under pressure to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight in just a few weeks.
Jan Potter, breastfeeding strategy lead and health improvement manager at Plymouth Community Healthcare, said: "Pregnancy and childbirth is a life-changing experience so coming to terms with parenthood and changes to your body is a natural part of that process.
"Many women don't see the same person in the mirror following pregnancy, but it's about managing their expectations, telling them about things like stretch marks and weight gain, before they give birth so they know what to expect.
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"If they are not prepared for what might happen to their bodies it can have a negative impact on them when the baby is born."
Weight gain in pregnancy varies greatly, but most pregnant women gain between 8kg (17.5lb) and 14kg (30lb) with most of the weight going on after week 20.
Much of the extra weight is due to the baby growing, but a pregnant woman's body will also be storing fat, ready to make breast milk after the baby is born.
Putting on too much or too little weight can lead to health problems for both the mother or the unborn baby.
"I always tell women that it has taken them nine months to grow their baby, so they shouldn't expect to return to their pre-pregnancy weight in a few weeks," said Ms Potter.
"There is a pressure on women to be everything to everyone, a pressure to be a supermum. This takes away from what they should be doing, enjoying time with their baby.
"It takes a while for a woman's hormones and organs to sort themselves out following childbirth and the last thing a woman should do after their baby is born is go on a strict diet.
"Being a new mother is physically demanding and it's more important to make sure you eat a balanced diet, not look at losing weight.
"Women should wait until after their six to eight week check-up before addressing any weight issue," she said.
Anyone who is concerned about their post-pregnancy weight should contact their local GP.
Ms Potter also advises visiting local children's centres for information on post-natal classes including buggy walking groups and socialising opportunities.