After the idea of motherhood has fully sunken in and you've had the chance to snuggle your new little miracle, it happens. It being the moment you realize that last 10 (or 20!) pounds just won't budge and no, your scale is not broken. Here are a few bad habits so many new moms develop when it comes to life post-baby, and ways to change them.
1. Losing too much sleep
Sleep deprivation comes with the territory and according to Karine Levy, a Montreal based Registered Dietitian, this is a major roadblock when it comes to weight loss. "The lack of sleep can lead to feeling hungrier in the day and slowing of the metabolism which will prevent mom from seeing weight loss," Levy says, explaining that hormones leptin and ghrelin are responsible for this effect. Leptin signals to the brain when you are full and ghrelin increases appetite. Levy says both of these hormones decrease when we are asleep, so if we don't sleep enough, they are instead telling our brain to eat more and increasing our appetite more often. To counter this problem, Levy recommends napping when baby naps to get in as much sleep as possible whenever you can. Marilyn Luis, a Certified Personal Trainer and kinesiologist in Montreal, echoes Levy's comments. "We put so much emphasis on the baby and the house, that we forget ourselves," Luis says. When baby naps, you may be tempted to do laundry or tidy the house. Don't. Luis recommends making sleep a priority.
(If you're tossing and turning in bed and just can't seem to fall asleep, here's How to get the best sleep ever.)
2. Not preparing food in advance
Not having food prepared in advance is another culprit when it comes to unsuccessful weight loss. Levy encourages batch cooking to save time, purchasing pre-cut fruits and veggies or frozen vegetables for quick, healthy eating. Levy also recommends high-energy snacks that combine protein and fibre to keep you fuller, longer so you won't turn to unhealthy snacking later in the day. "You have to eat right and you might not have time to cook, and you won't eat quality food," Luis agrees. She recommends preparing meals in advance and freezing them so you always have healthy food and snacks ready to go.
3. Not exercising enough
Levy understands going to gym or scheduled yoga classes may not be feasible with a newborn to take care of, so she recommends workout DVDs you can do at home. That way, as soon as your little one nods off, you'll be able to get to work on burning calories. No time for exercise? Luis, a mom to an 18-month old herself, says you do have time. "Put him in the stroller and go for a walk. Babies love being in the stroller.
If it's winter, do it at the mall," she advises. She strongly encourages being active with your baby, which is beneficial for you both.
(Need some good exercise for you that will also allow you to bond with your little one? Read up on Postnatal yoga with baby and get started.)
4. Taking in too many calories while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding does require more calories. In fact, Levy says your body can burn up to 840 calories for every litre of milk it produces. However, many women make the mistake of over consumption. "When you're breastfeeding you need 450 calories more than you were consuming before pregnancy," Levy explains. While it may sound like a lot, 450 calories is equivalent to two to three portions of anything listed on Canada's Food Guide. Twenty grapes in the morning, one-quarter cup of nuts in the afternoon and a tall glass of milk in the evening, according to Levy, will satisfy the extra caloric needs of a breastfeeding mother.
5. Not making time for yourself
It's ok to think about yourself, even after baby arrives. To be a good mom, you need to take care of yourself, too. "We shouldn't be so hard on ourselves," Levy says. Give your body the time it needs to recuperate from pregnancy. If you can, see a dietitian before, during and after pregnancy to help keep your diet on track, prevent excessive weight gain and above all, stay healthy during a time when you need to be at your strongest. "You need to reconnect with yourself," Luis agrees. "We think it's all about exercise and eating right but it's also about what's going on in your mind and how you deal with it." Luis strongly suggests making time for yourself, even if only for 15 minutes a day, in order to stay healthy, focused and able to manage the new stress of motherhood.