“Woman has baby”. That’s how satirical news magazine Private Eye announced the birth of the British royal family baby, Prince George. The birth of the little prince caused a far-reaching media frenzy – I was delighted to receive an email from my landlord while I was in the UK, asking me to wish new parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, well if I met them at Buckingham palace.
The best offering from the media came courtesy of Sky News’ Anna Botting, who asked when the Duchess of Cambridge emerged with her newborn baby: “Why does she still have a bump?” To which the whole of Twitter chorused, “Because she had a baby yesterday!” Equally helpful was OK! Magazine’s offering of a “post-baby weight loss regime” for Kate.
The OK! article, which at first glance looks like a spoof, shows just how extreme the media’s obsession with female perfection has gone. Jo Swinson, the UK minister for women and equalities said: “Publications like OK! Magazine need to get some perspective. Fitting back into pre-pregnancy jeans is not the priority after childbirth.” Well said, Ms Swinson!
Back to normal?
Tanja Held, pre- and postnatal nutritionist with Wellness and Birth
(www.wellnessandbirth.com), says, “After giving birth, a woman’s body stores some fat to make sure that there will be enough energy to produce milk. While breastfeeding, adding an additional 635kcal to your normal daily diet is recommended. When I was breastfeeding, I craved red meat (an iron-rich food) so I got my calories that way.” She adds, “The sleepless nights, breastfeeding, socialising with other new mums, while recovering from giving birth and managing one’s household, requires loads of energy, and some women lose weight without trying.”
“Grandmothers, aunties and friends will have lots of advice and there will be competition from other mums, but avoid all the stress – it takes up unnecessary energy and will limit breast milk production. Just enjoy getting to know your baby,” Tanja says. And know that it’s normal for it to take nine months to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Discovery Bay-based pre- and postnatal yoga teacher Hanny Stadelmann agrees: “After giving birth, don’t worry about working out straight away. Clients are always telling me they want their body back. I reassure them that there is no rush to do that, and the first thing to get right is the pelvic floor. So many women suffer with bladder weakness or incontinence and no one talks about it.”
Hanny says, “After a mum’s pelvic floor is back to normal, then we can start working on the core – the area of the body that women feel most self-conscious about.” Before that, you can rejoice that sit-ups are actually a no-no, as they put pressure on the pelvic floor.
Try these yoga exercises to get your pelvic floor back in ship shape:
• Squeeze and pull upwards the muscles you use when going to the toilet. With muscles engaged, stand up straight and put your hands on your hips. Lift and lower one leg to the side, keeping the hips level. Repeat, and change sides.
• Lay on your back with the soles of your feet on the floor, your knees bent and your arms beside your body, palms down. Squeeze and pull up the pelvic floor muscles, roll your hips up, then lower down slowly. Repeat.