The hand on the weighing scale settled at 85 kg and my heart sank. It had been seven days since the delivery and my weight had not come down a gram since the last time I had weighed myself -- a week before I was admitted to hospital.
Fighting the baby blues, this was the last thing I could deal with. It's not that I had a model-like figure before. In fact, I had been quite overweight for the last 10 years, something that was coming in the way of conception. But I never thought I would let myself gain over 20 kgs over the nine months of pregnancy and that it would not come down. My doctor blamed it on the water retention in my body and asked me to have patience.
Standing in front of the mirror a week later, I found myself looking a little different. I realised my face had shrunk. My immediate next stop was the weighing scale, which found me 7 kg lighter. Over the next couple of weeks, I had managed to lose a total of 18 kg. And I was happy.
But not for long. In the excitement of losing weight, I had overlooked the fact that I was a lactating mother. Losing weight too quickly can decrease the milk supply, which happened in my case as I had gone back to my pre-pregnancy diet. With my mother and mother-in-law gone, there was nobody to give me those between-the-meals snacks. While I had started losing weight, the effect was on my baby who was not getting sufficient feed.
I had to increase my diet again, including more milk, juices and other nutrients to my regular intake. My weight increased too by a couple of kilos. But my doctor said dieting for losing this weight could wait for a few more months, once the baby is on solids. I am now depending a lot on low-fat milk, whole wheat bread, fruits and raw vegetables.
About exercise, my doctor said I could start with some walking but should keep in mind that it had taken about 40 weeks to gain the pregnancy weight, and the body should be given a similar period of time to lose it. She advised against rushing into losing weight. I heeded to her advice and rested, painfully waiting to fit into my old clothes.
Four months down the line, I can use most of my old clothes now, but I can definitely do with a little less effort to put them on. My son is almost five months old and I can start exercises. While walking is the best option, I also plan to do Yoga at home.
Post-delivery, especially after a C-section, women need to watch their belly, which refuses to come back to its old shape in some cases. While I always had a protruding tummy, its size is bigger than before now. Exercise is the only way to reduce it. And I am all ready to go for it.
But I have a word of caution for the readers here. Abdominal exercises should never be started immediately after the delivery. The belly expands during pregnancy and you develop a gap in the abdominal muscles. The gap needs around four to eight weeks to close. You may cause injuries to these muscles if you start exercises before that.
According to doctors, women who weren't much active during pregnancy should start slow. My fitness routine was limited to the stairs I climbed every day as I went to office till the beginning of ninth month. Even before pregnancy, I wasnít much of an exercise person. But now that I donít have any option left, I need to put on my walking shoes.
Those planning to hit the gym should keep in mind that joints and ligaments remain loose for about three to five months after delivery. Watch your step and exercise under the supervision of an experienced trainer. It is better still to start with simple stretching exercises, or consult a postpartum exercise specialist first. Just don't overdo it.
Another advice for breastfeeding moms is to exercise only after feeding the baby or expressing milk.
I may find it difficult to steal time for exercise, which will only lengthen the to-do list of this multi-tasking working mother, but I will keep trying. Getting back to 'shape' -- though I can't can call mine so at all -- is very much a priority for me.