Kim Kardashian recently had her second child. A new child is such a treasure and I’m sincerely happy for her; I wish her and her family all the best.
I was dismayed however to read, just a short while after all of the announcements about the baby, headlines about her plans to lose ’60 pounds of baby weight fast’. I do not know what diet and exercise plan Kim Kardashian plans to use, nor do I know if she plans to breastfeed. She’s just the latest celebrity example of the race for post-natal thinness that seems to be populating the social media waves. I’m saddened by the thought that simply because a celebrity or media personality posts something like this it will leave other women feeling that perhaps they should be that thin that quickly or that they are somehow less than because they don’t. That’s simply not true. While I certainly understand the desire to want to be back at your pre-pregnancy weight I believe that rapid post-natal weight loss is not a good idea. It’s more important to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself in the midst of all the changes that are happening.
Kim Kardashian is by no means the only one to want to rapidly lose weight after having a baby. There are a growing number of social media posts practically glorifying women who have rapidly lost weight after having a baby. Unfortunately this is not a healthy idea for mom or baby.
One big reason against rapid weight loss is that we tend to store toxins in fat. Then when we lose weight rapidly we experience a toxin dump. In fact one study found that weight loss increased the level of toxins in the blood with some of the toxins then being reabsorbed into the remaining fat cells. Weight loss can be, in effect, a form of detoxing. (Truthfully our body is always detoxing, it’s continually working to clear toxins and keep metabolic processes running to the best of it’s ability.) But rapid weight-loss can accelerate some of the symptoms of detoxing. Dumping toxins through rapid weight loss can cause cardiac stress, gout-type symptoms, gall bladder flare-ups, and lightheadedness. It also doesn’t help you form healthy eating habits for maintaining the weight loss. This can be one reason why many people lose weight quickly and then gain it back sometimes with a few pounds extra.
Breastfeeding is very important and provides a perfect balance of nutrition. Sometimes there are issues with nursing either because the mother cannot produce enough milk, baby has issues that make it challenging, or there may be some other reason why it is physically not possible. If there is a problem with breastfeeding it’s best to refer to a lactation consultant or connect with your local La Leche League.
For those who are breast feeding it’s important to note that breastmilk is between 3-5% fat. This means that “detoxing” via weight loss may cause the breastmilk to have significantly higher levels of toxins. That, in turn, gets passed on through the milk to the baby. Rather than focusing on weight-loss, look at ways to nourish yourself, and baby, through eating well.
The following foods and beverages are very supportive post-partum and during breastfeeding:
- Nourishing broth
- Cod liver oil to provide vitamin D and essential omega 3 fatty acids
- Red raspberry leaf to help with postpartum recovery
- Nettles also help with postpartum recovery
- Coconut oil is a healthy medium chain triglyceride
- Leafy greens – kale, spinach, swiss chard, dandelion,
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Fermented foods – lacto-fermented kraut or other vegetables, kombucha, kefir
- Porridge – made from soaked oats, buckwheat, brown rice, or quinoa
- Legumes, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans
- Nuts and seeds
- Sea vegetables – dulse, wakame, nori, hijiki, kombu
Avoid the following foods which are anti-lactogenic and can impair breastfeeding:
- high consumption of the following herbs: basil, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and any mints
- Soft drinks and carbonated beverages
- Caffeine – coffee, black tea, green tea, hot cocoa, chocolate
Food Intolerance Issues
Colic can be an issue with some newborns. It is possible that the mother’s diet can impact the digestive status of the baby when breastfeeding. Therefore it would be best for mother to avoid: spicy food, onions, garlic, legumes/beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
There may also be a food intolerance issue, wheat and dairy and two of the biggest offenders in this category. Mother can try eliminating the seven most common allergenic foods from her diet to see if this makes a difference: wheat/gluten, corn, soy, eggs, dairy, seafood, and nuts.
Taking care of ourselves is important all the time but these few self-care tips are especially important after giving birth:
- Stay hydrated – breastfeeding takes a lot of hydration. Even if you’re not breastfeeding you still need to make sure that you are getting enough fluids to keep your system working properly
- Skin brushing – this helps to keep your lymph system flowing properly. Bonus, it’s also really good for your skin
- Get sleep – the temptation after having a baby is to “get things done” while the baby is napping. After decades of raising kids I’m here to tell you there’s always stuff that needs to be done. One of the biggest single self-care things you can do for yourself is to rest when you can
- Set aside some me time – when we have a baby we tend to forget how to take care of ourselves because we are so wrapped up in taking care of that precious little person. But we still have wants and needs that have to be taken care of. As my friend Dr. Vicki Bradley (of the Self-Care Reminder Project) says, when we take care of ourselves we are better able to care for others
Take the time to love yourself and your body. Remember, it took nine months of work to produce that little bundle. On average it takes three months to a year to get back to where you were before you had the baby. To try to erase all of the physical symptoms and expressions of that in just a few days or weeks is not the best, healthiest option. And some of them (like stretchmarks) don’t ever really go away. And check out a great photo series called A Beautiful Body which highlights the beauty of a mother’s body.