Not losing ‘babyweight’ could risk heart health, say scientists

Shedding your babyweight can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels healthy but there's no rush, say researchers: you've a whole year to do it in

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Those first 12 months after birth are the most important time for losing ‘excess pregnancy weight’. So say Canadian scientists, who have studied how pregnancy weight gain affects our health.

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The research team from Mount Sinai Hospital, in Toronto, followed 305 women through their pregnancies and in the year following birth.

And, they found, that, for those who don’t manage to lose weight by their baby’s first birthday, it ‘will cause blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin action in the body to move in an unhealthy direction’.

But research leader Dr Ravi Retnakaran stresses, it’s not about trying to get a perfect size-10 figure mere days after giving birth – despite what some celeb mums would have you believe! It’s just about starting to lose some of the weight you gained during pregnancy within the first year of your child’s life.

“The window leading up to 1 year after birth is a critical time,” he says, “for women to ensure that they are losing at least some of their pregnancy weight.”

I’ve just had a baby! Give me a break…

Don’t worry. There’s no rush. And you really shouldn’t feel any pressure to make like the celeb mums and post selfies of your toned new-mum tum practically before your baby’s made it back from the delivery suite. 

The first few months of motherhood are knackering enough without having to worry about weight loss, too.

And, more to the point, the researchers found that the increased risk factors for diabetes and heart disease they noted at 12 months’ post-birth were not present 3 months after delivery. In other words, you don’t even need to think about losing-pregnancy-weight thing till your baby’s at least 3 months old.

What if my baby’s nearly 1 year old and I haven’t lose all my ‘babyweight’?

Well, it’s probably worth talking to your GP or health visitor. Especially if you’ve actually gained more weight: it was the 25% of the mums in the study group who’d gained weight in the first year who showed a clear increase in risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

But if you’ve just lost some – but not all – of your babyweight, there’s probably no real cause for concern. The researchers found that three-quarters of the mums they studied (about 225 women) were in this position and they mostly all scored healthy levels in cholesterol, blood pressure and other tests.

What’s the best way to lose my babyweight?

Well, the scientists behind the study are busy planning further research to help us figure that out!

But, in the meantime, they say their study result suggest upping your exercise levels is the best strategy. And it’s worth knowing the NHS recommends activities such as swimming, walking and mum-and-baby exercise classes – as long as you don’t start before you’ve had your six-week postnatal checkup.

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