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Weighing in on "Baby Weight"

Babies are in the news! Meghan Markle and Amy Schumer both delivered their first babies last week. And with the excitement of these arrivals, came the expected scrutiny. While some articles like this praised Meghan for showing the world what a woman's body really looks like after delivery, others questioned if she'd lose the "baby weight" faster than Kate Middleton. Although, my favorite, was this article from Vogue where Schumer shows what real, non-royal postpartum looks like. The buzz about these new mamas got me thinking about all the postpartum women I've worked with through the years and the challenges they've experienced around  nourishing their bodies in the face of societal pressures surrounding appearance.

While getting enough nutrition is a focus of pregnancy, the focus often shifts to weight loss in the postnatal period.   However, adequate nutrition is just as critical, if not more critical during this time immediately post-delivery. In addition to more energy and protein, the body requires more iron, B vitamins, calcium and other essential nutrients as it heals from delivery and starts producing breast milk. Focus on weight loss places women at risk for nutrient deficiencies and low energy while having a negative impact on their mental health as well. 

3 Tips For a Healthy Postpartum Period 

1.  Eat When You're Hungry. Many women are hungrier during the postpartum period which is a good thing - it's the body's way of telling us we need more food. The best thing a woman can do during this period (and any other) is to listen to her body’s cues. Moms who meet their own needs, can then meet their children's needs. It's hard enough to parent and even harder on an empty tank!

2.  Trust Your Body.  All bodies are different. Within 6-9 months postpartum, many woman return to their pre-pregnancy weight, but some don't.  In fact, some women gain weight, even while breastfeeding. There is no "normal" after pregnancy, each body is unique.  Placing expectations around weight loss immediately after pregnancy is not only unrealistic, but unhealthy and places new moms at serious risk for depression, negative body image and disordered eating.

3.  Seek Help.  If you’re unsure about weight or nutritional needs postpartum, the postpartum visit, seek the guidance of a trusted OB-Gyn, midwife and/or registered dietitian who practices a HAES®/non-diet approach. 

Resources

1) Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation. Nutrition Services in Perinatal Care: Second Edition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1992. 2, Nutritional Concerns of Women in the Preconceptional, Prenatal, and Postpartum Periods. Available here.
2) American Pregnancy Association. ©2019
3) Nutrition Instincts Website

 

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