It was an unfortunate photograph of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan coming out of a party that sparked off a national debate on celebrities and post-pregnancy weight like never before.
If Victoria Beckham and Malaika Arora Khan could get back to shape in less than a couple of months, what was stopping the world’s most beautiful woman from doing the same?
Opinions ranged from bitchy to ridiculous, but new mom, Aishwarya, brushed aside the cattiness as she embraced her fuller figure with pride.
Yet as she gushed about her six-month-old daughter Aaradhya on the 2012 Cannes red carpet in all her Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla glory, the topic itself has raised a number of questions. The most important being, just what is the right way to lose post-pregnancy weight?
Dr Kishore Kumar, a neonatologist, is quick to caution. “The basic rule of post-weight pregnancy is it depends largely on genetics — how much weight you gain, how quickly you can lose it of if you will ever lose it. On an average, a woman gains about 10 kilos of weight during pregnancy, which is transient fat or as we know it, post-pregnancy weight.
The presence of fat is very important for a new mother because she has to breast-feed. So this whole concept of losing weight in a month’s time is not very ideal in general if you are going on crash diets and vigorous exercise, which was not part of your lifestyle before. I have had a mother who swam till the last day of her pregnancy and went back into the water almost immediately after giving birth. But she had been a swimmer all her life,” he says.
Dr Gautami N, a gynaecologist, says: “Keep your weight constant at least for the first six months after your pregnancy because your body needs to adjust to the change of not having to supply nutrients to a life growing within. Unlike the women in the West, our genetic make-up is different, as is our diet.
We need to work around that. If you have had a very active lifestyle before and during your pregnancy, you can go back to exercising after the birth of the baby. Just don’t do strenuous exercises that you have never done before because it will have an adverse effect on your system,” she says.
Fitness experts too recommend a slower regimen for mothers. “It is not vigorous cardios and weights and Pilates that we recommend immediately. New mothers have already gone through delivering a baby, so straining the body further is not recommended. The body needs to heal.
For the first three months at least, I would recommend you keep it simple. Do 20 minutes on the treadmill on an even speed. Even if you do weights, keep it very light. Most women also do Kegel (pelvic) exercises after giving birth; you can supplement it with some calming yoga as well. At the end of the day, don’t push your body,” says fitness expert Arab Khan.
A driving reason for women to lose their post-pregnancy weight is largely psychological too. “We live in a visual world today where appearances are paramount. Previously we thought of our mothers as cuddly, warm and round.
Today, motherhood is not a good enough reason to be out of shape, even if you have genuine medical reason for it. It does not help when you see a Karishma Kapoor, a mother of two, flaunt her toned body and slim thigh on the silver screen.
But the truth is, stretch marks, a sagging bustline and jelly belly is the reality many mothers live with. Accept the fact that our body may not go back to college days. Embrace the truth that not all of us can be Demi Moore. It helps,” says Mamtha Shetty, a psychologist.
But what happens when you push the envelope on the post-pregnancy weight loss? The repercussions are twofold — physiological and psychological. Dr Kishore says: “If you insist on a dramatic weight loss in a very short time, then there is a very diverse effect on your body. It affects the production of breast milk in a woman, which adversely affects the baby’s health.The mother herself increases the risk of osteoporosis,” he says.
“Depression is a very serious risk for a new mother who has to tend to the needs of a newborn baby and you will not be able to enjoy motherhood. We don’t need science to tell us what it does to a baby to be deprived of maternal love in its early days,” says Namrata Gupta, another psychologist.