Recent research has recommended that women get back to their healthiest weight within a year after having their baby to avoid an increase risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Losing weight after pregnancy can be a challenge. In a recent article with ninemsn I give some valuable tips to help new mothers achieve their pre baby weight.

It’s no secret that losing baby weight can be a challenge, but Canadian doctors are recommending women get back to their healthiest size within a year of having a baby or to avoid an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto tracked 305 women through pregnancy and 12 months after giving birth.

About three quarters of the women lost some of their baby weight in that year and maintained healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

A quarter gained more weight and the researchers found they had an obvious increase in risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

“This finding helps us advise women about the importance of losing their excess pregnancy weight in the first year after delivery,” said study leader Dr Ravi Retnakaran.

“With these results, we can say that failure to lose weight between three and 12 months postpartum will cause blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin action in the body to move in an unhealthy direction.”

The same risks were not there three months after birth – the excess weight only appeared to become dangerous around the 12-month mark.

“That means that the nine-month window leading up to one year after birth is a critical time for women to ensure that they are losing at least some of their pregnancy weight,” Dr Retnakaran said.

Jen Dugard, mum’s fitness specialist from Body Beyond Baby, told ninemsn that it is definitely possible for new mums to shift their baby weight, but it’s important that they don’t put too much pressure on themselves.

“You need to do it when you are ready mentally and physically,” she said.

“If they feel pressure to lose weight and mentally and physically it’s not working, let them take 13 or 15 months and get there properly. That’s much better than yo-yo dieting.”

Dugard said mums embarking on new exercise regimes ought to see a women’s health physiotherapist first to have a pelvic floor and transverse abdominis check-up.

“There is no point launching into a fitness program without having strong foundations. It’s like building a fancy house – if you don’t have the right foundations, over time it will fall apart,” she said.

“Work with the right people and get a safe and efficient exercise program.”

Melanie McGrice, an advanced accredited practising dietitian and author of The Pregnancy Weight Plan told ninemsn women will find it much easier to get to their pre-baby weight if they don’t gain too much weight during pregnancy.

“So many women think they can eat whatever they like in pregnancy but then only have they gained the baby weight, but also a lot of fat,” she said.

McGrice said new mums are often hungrier, so it’s crucial they have healthy snacks on hand.

“In the first couple of months, women need more kilojoules for breastfeeding,” she said.

“You can feel hungrier, particularly if you are sleep deprived, so make sure you have healthy options available.”

The study was published in Diabetes Care.

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