Is there ever a right time to start losing weight after giving birth? Emma Bartley is in a dilemma after OK! Magazine's Kate Middleton body blunder
How soon is too soon to slim down after giving birth? Well, if we’ve learnt one thing from OK! magazine lately, it’s that the answer is “more than one day”. If you spent yesterday squeezing the future king through your pelvis, most people agree that you should be able to pop out for a Dairy Milk without having to see a picture of yourself next to the words KATE’S POST-BABY WEIGHT LOSS REGIME.
On the other hand, I bet that Kate Middleton does have a weight-loss plan. This is a woman whose job is to look decorative, who is required to be in control at all times. And we all know that the first few weeks after having a baby are not the most glamorous time. You’re sore, bleeding and lactating; your maternity clothes hang off but there’s no way your stretched-out stomach will squeeze into your old jeans either. You note all this without having any time to do anything about it. You barely have the time to shower.
Small wonder the Duchess of Cambridge has holed up at her parents’ house in Bucklebury. The weight of our expectation is far heavier than the 0.5lb she probably gained during her pregnancy. If she goes out and her stomach hasn’t “snapped straight back”, as per the OK! cover, the unflattering pap pictures will haunt her for ever. If she appears pin-thin again within weeks of giving birth, she’ll face jealous bitching that she’s boring, too perfect, and so on.
I feel for Kate – eight weeks after having my first baby, I’m really fed up with my still-jelly belly and ready to do something about it. But I don’t know if – pardon the pun – it’s OK to say that.
Take a look at the Twitter feed of Katy Hill , a beautiful TV presenter who posted a Size 13-style “selfie” in response to the OK! cover. Katy’s picture, taken two months after her second C-section, showed a bit of a lingering baby bump and went down a storm with other mums. Some of their responses, though, made me feel just as bad as the OK! coverlines. “No time to exercise,” said one mother of a three-month-old baby. “My kids are my first priority and I come second.”
This is the vicious tightrope a chubby new mum must walk: she’s not supposed to be fat, but she’s not supposed to work at being thin, either. To diet is vain. To leave your child with your husband, as I did for two hours on Saturday, and go to an exercise class at the gym, is selfish. The weight, and there’s always going to be a few pounds, a bit of lost tone, must be lost effortlessly.
At present, because there really isn’t a lot of time for formal exercise, I’m clinging to fitness society’s way, getting in what activity I can while never forgetting the baby – pushing the pram to meet my NCT groups, bench-pressing the baby and bouncing her to sleep using a kind of squat exercise that I learnt at the Barrecore gym in Chelsea.
I suppose it must be medically and socially acceptable to do sit-ups, too, since my GP recommended these at my six-month check-up. (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or Nice, suggests that six to eight weeks is the right time for GPs, midwives and health visitors to bring this up with new mothers.)
But as far as modifying my diet goes… as ever, I’m struggling. “That was a big baby,” remarked the GP. “Did you have a sugar issue?” No, I told her, I didn’t. My blood sugar was monitored throughout the pregnancy and found to be fine. Although if it counts as an “issue”, I discovered chocolate hot-cross buns in the third trimester and I was hitting those pretty hard.
They are now out of season, thank God, but I’m still prone to a lot of guilty snacking. I know that what I eat flavours my milk and potentially shapes my daughter’s food preferences later on, so I tend to listen to her. But between breastfeeding and sleep deprivation, if I see a high-calorie food, I grab it. Scones, cake, pastries, cheese… Every day. Any time of day.
It used to be that I exercised away my junk-food guilt, but returning to my favourite spinning class on Saturday, of course I ended up feeling guilty about taking the time away from my daughter. Thank you, Twitter.
Still, I thought I’d go back there and ask Katy Hill when she thought she would start trying to lose her own baby weight. “About six months worked for me but everyone is different,” she replied. “Def not before 2/3 months as it’s not healthy.”
How sane, how secure, how well-balanced. I read it, ignored it, declared I wasn’t going to eat carbs after 5pm all week, accidentally ate rice for dinner on Monday, troughed half a bag of homemade ginger biscuits on Tuesday… Regime or no regime, it’s a dead cert that Kate Middleton will be back in shape a long time before I will.
Week 8 post baby
Weight: 72.5kg (+2.5kg since baby)
Waist: See for yourselves...