Statistics show that 90% of African Women tend to add on the weight during pregnancy. Even the tiniest and slimmest of us tend to pack on the weight during and after the first baby. For some, the weight gain may happen in their later pregnancies.
What makes pregnancy and childbirth an even bigger weight gain period for an African woman is our belief that you need to eat a lot to supply your baby with the right nutrients during pregnancy and while nursing your baby. And if you have a child that eats a lot, then the more they suck on your breast, the more you’re encouraged to eat more to match your rate of breast milk production.
But do you need to eat large meals to sustain your breast milk production?
I found out that this is not necessarily true. You do need to eat healthy meals but not necessarily in large portions. You only need to eat 300-500 calories more (per day)than what you were eating pre-pregnancy.
However, you need to be well hydrated to encourage breast milk supply and your meals should include foods that are naturally rich in water, such as fruits and vegetables. A normal healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains would do just fine.
Rest is also very important when you are nursing to encourage the letdown of breast milk in the early days. So if you can, get a lot of rest. You can arrange to get your mum or close relative in to help you out so that you can have more time for resting and nursing your baby.
While it’s unrealistic to compare yourself to celebrities who have personal trainers and personal chefs, here are some tips that can help you get back to your pre-pregnancy body:
- Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding helps to burn calories. So if there is no medical reason preventing you from breastfeeding your baby, I would advise strongly that you consider it. Breastfeeding also helps the uterus contract back to it’s non-pregnant size because the hormones that let down your milk make your uterus contract.
- Belly Binding: Belly binding immediately after childbirth has been used as a means of snapback since time immemorial. Yoruba people would use the popular ”òjá” to bind the woman’s tummy immediately after childbirth to encourage tummy retraction. American celebs from Cardi B to the Kardashians have also lend a voice to belly binding by using a postpartum belly wrap (waist Cinchers) to help snap back after having a baby. The belly wraps are available in various versions. The Cinchers, postpartum belly wraps and loads more can be worn immediately after child birth.
- Waist Training: If you had a normal birth, waist training with a steel boned corset can start at 3 weeks. But if you had a C-section, then you can start proper waist training at week 6.
- Diet Control: There may be a temptation to eat more since the belief is that ”you’re eating for two” but don’t fall for it. We have already established that eating large meals is not equal to increased breast milk production. But eating the right meals in moderate proportions produces a more desirable result.
- Post-pregnancy workouts: Workouts and Kegels, will also help the body snapback. Research shows that starting a regular exercise program soon after giving birth is not only good for your overall health but may also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression.