It is only natural that women are concerned about their size and shape after giving birth. Having endured months of changes in your body structure, the question about whether you will ever return to your pre-pregnancy weight is always going to linger in your mind. Your hormone levels may be stabilizing. Your baby is no long breastfeeding. But has pregnancy altered your metabolism? Unfortunately it is not a simple yes or no answer. Individual metabolism is a complex interplay of various factors within the body. Pregnancy is a period of your life that may not necessarily have a lifelong effect on your metabolism in most instances.
What determines metabolism?
Before looking at the aspect of pregnancy or even breastfeeding on your body, it is important to first understand how the metabolism works. Metabolism is very broad term but to most people it means the rate at which your body burns calories. At rest this is known as the basal metabolic rate. The more activity you undertake the more your metabolism increases but will soon return to your basal metabolic rate once you are resting again. Some people have a naturally higher metabolism than others. It is not just a single factor like the activity of your thyroid gland that determines this. Various other factors some into play, some of which are not in your control. Age is one such factor which cannot be modified.
Pregnancy weight gain is not necessarily a result of your metabolism having slowed down. Remember you had a growing child inside of you. Plus hormones like estrogen and progesterone changed your body in different ways to sustain that pregnancy and then be able to provide nutrition for your newborn baby after birth. This leads to weight gain but does not necessarily mean that your metabolism has changed. It is true that women can develop certain thyroid conditions during pregnancy as well as metabolic conditions like diabetes mellitus but this does not mean that you cannot return to your pre-pregnancy body weight after giving birth.
Pregnancy Activity and Diet
Take a look at what you did for the preceding few months. Having been heavily pregnant you most likely would have moved around less. Gone were the aerobics, gym or even leisurely stroll around the shopping mall with your friends. Instead you were most likely sitting, lying down and even sleeping for more hours than you normally would before you fell pregnant. All of these activities are actually low metabolic states compared to standing, walking and exercising. Then there was the food. To have a healthy pregnancy you should have been eating a nutritious diet and moderately larger quantities to provide nutrition for both you and your developing baby. You may have continued with this higher calorie intake after pregnancy while you were breastfeeding.
The question is have you stopped these habits now that your baby is born and you are no longer breastfeeding? Many women do not realize that that they have not as yet returned to their pre-pregnancy lifestyle. Understandably their body weight is not going to return to its pre-pregnancy levels. And the longer you wait the harder its gets. Muscle is one of your body’s main calorie burners and a large determinant of your metabolic rate. Less activity and low-protein diets will ultimately shrink these calories burners rendering your metabolism lower and keeping the pounds on for long after. And then there is age that is constantly advancing while you wait to return to your former lifestyle. It is therefore important for pregnant women and new mothers to remember that they need to return to their previous habits in order to return to their previous body weight.
It may not always be this simple but it is the first step one has to take before blaming the changes in body weight and metabolism on pregnancy. It is possible to return to your pre-pregnancy body weight or at least close to it. Many women have done it. For most women it is not an easy task to achieve but before starting on the weigh loss supplements and metabolism boosters, just stop and take a look at your eating and activity at this point in time.