Most women who’ve just given birth, with the notable exception of celebrities, tend to leave hospital – shock horror – a few pounds heavier than when they got pregnant.
You can’t have failed to note the furore that surrounded poor old Kate Middleton when she dared to leave the hospital – in heels and a daringly light outfit, and probably feeling like the world was falling out of her – with a bit of a tummy.
This is, contrary to what the Daily Mail sidebar of shame might claim, entirely normal.
Very few people snap back immediately after growing a real live human person inside of them, unless you happen to have a surgeon on hand to give you a tummy tuck at the same time as your c-section of course (and they don’t do this on the NHS. I did ask). And a lot of us have a lot more work to do than Kate.
Horrendous sickness aside, anyone at a healthy BMI pre-pregnancy needs to prepare themselves to put on a fair amount of weight.
Pregnancy is absolutely exhausting, your body is working exceptionally hard and you have to lug a baby and placenta around everywhere, which may make you a little bit hungry.
Your good pre-pregnancy intentions may go out of the window when you find you can’t stomach anything remotely resembling a healthy meal and you really, really need a Pepperami.
Fortunately, pregnancy is the one time in your life when you can be first at the buffet table and feel no shame or judgement.
Of course, one should not use pregnancy as an excuse to gorge… but if that’s your thing, as excuses go it’s a pretty damn good one. After all, you give up a lot when you become pregnant; obviously you can’t drink wine and you can’t eat decent cheese or pate, your figure will become unrecognisable (and not just your belly, if you’re unlucky your feet may swell to six times their normal size) and you may well feel and possibly look as graceful as Shamu.
So if you fancy fish and chips or a mars bar, or even the two together, while you put your swollen feet up, then why the hell not.
I put on around three stone in my first pregnancy.
My baby was a normal weight, 7lb7, and therefore I still had a fair bit extra to lose, probably a little less than two stone after the dust had settled. I decided I’d wait until she, and therefore I, was sleeping fairly well before even attempting to shift it; as it happened, that was a good six months into the future.
However lose it I did, just in time to fall pregnant, and put it all back on again.
My second pregnancy was much harder than the first and I was a lot less mobile.
As a result I suspect I gained even more weight, however this time I didn’t weigh myself because quite honestly, who cares? Maternity clothes are stretchy and mirrors easily avoided.
Somehow, despite the constant screaming and the many, many entirely sleepless nights that made up the first four months of my son’s life, I managed to lose a stone. I guess I thought I was already miserable, and off dairy at the time, why not compound that misery by rationing bread and wine.
I lost momentum a few months ago, which lead to putting a little bit back on and I now have around a stone to lose before I’ll be able to fit back into my clothes comfortably, and three months before my holiday.
So, time to diet…
I decided that this would be easier to do within a group setting. Public humiliation is quite a motivating factor I find.
Now obviously the biggest hurdle, after accepting that you need to lose weight, is finding the motivation to actually turn up to the first meeting. My husband, who passes the local church hall every day whilst walking the dog, informed me that the local Slimming World club met there on a Tuesday at 11, so I set a date and decided that would be it; the start of the new, healthier me.
Only when I googled it that morning, it was actually on a Thursday so instead I spent the day eating Nutella out of the jar.
Thursday arrived. The big first weigh in.
Of course the trick is to make yourself as heavy as possible so that in the second week, you can have a staggering loss which should motivate you when you’re starving hungry and have ten digits of the local Domino’s already dialled.
The best way to do this is to wear your heaviest clothes. You could even put rocks in your pockets, although don’t go swimming in any rivers directly afterwards. I hear that is precisely what happened to Virginia Woolf; Slimming World accident (too soon?).
Anyway, having clothed myself in the heaviest jumper I could find, the baby and I – leaving five minutes late, as is usual – made our way to the church hall. Sweating in a most unattractive way, I sat myself down alongside other newbies and listened to a very enthusiastic leader discuss how you could drink half a bottle of wine a night on the plan. You might die of liver cirrhosis but at least you’d be thin.
I left the meeting with a bag full of leaflets I’ll probably never have time to read and instructions to have a jacket potato with beans for lunch and basically eat a lot of vegetables and lean meat and fish; advice I probably could have worked out for myself but simply wouldn’t have the motivation to put into practice.
Anyway, this is goodbye to drinking on school nights, eating Nutella out of the jar (I’ve looked it up and there are a gajillion ‘syns’ per level teaspoon) and going out for lunch to Wetherspoons for the foreseeable future.
Wish me luck.
And wish my husband and the kids luck; by my own admission, I’m not particularly lovable when I’m hungry.