Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on pregnancy weight gain and back pain

Dr Bernadette Carr says some simple and easy tips can be incorporated easily into your daily routine to help you lose weight.

Q. I put up a lot of weight during my pregnancy.

With my baby almost six months old, I have approximately a stone to lose but am still breastfeeding.

Do you have you any suggestions on how I can lose this weight?

A. Congratulations on your new arrival. Breastfeeding is a great natural way to ensure your baby is getting enough essential nutrients to ensure healthy growth and development. 

It can also be a tiring time for you and it is important that you are getting enough nutrients, especially iron, in your diet to avoid feeling overly tired.

Some simple and easy tips can be incorporated easily into your daily routine to help you lose weight, while maintaining adequate nutrition levels.

1. Stay hydrated

It is very important to make sure you are drinking enough. At least eight glasses of water a day will help keep you feeling fuller, will aid digestion which in turn will help weight loss and help keep you mentally alert.

2. Fruit and vegetables

Aim for five portions of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables a day. These will provide essential vitamins as well as fibre to help you feel full and again aid digestion.

3. Get active

Aim for 30 mins of exercise a day. This can be anything from walking to climbing stairs. Being mindful of your goal to incorporate more movement into the day. Making small changes to your behaviour can go a long way to helping you achieve your weight-loss goal.

4. Watch your portion size

Eating out, king size and supersize meal deals can all be the enemy when trying to lose weight. Good guidelines include incorporating a source of protein, carbohydrate and fat at each meal and having at least half your plate made up of fruit or vegetables.

5. Beware of empty calories

“Empty calories” are those that add total calories (which if taken in excess lead to weight gain) but contribute little in terms of vitamins or minerals to your diet and typically do not produce feelings of satiety. 

They come in the form of soft drinks, alcohol, chocolate, crisps, etc. These foods can be incorporated into a balanced diet as treats but should not form part of your staple diet if you are trying to lose weight.

Q. I’m using a laptop more having recently changed my job.

My neck and shoulders feel very painful and tight by evening and I sometimes need to seek relief by taking paracetamol.

Is there anything I can do?

A. Sitting for long periods at a desk can be a common cause of back pain. Maintaining poor posture by sitting hunched over a keyboard will often lead to tight sore muscles.

Working at a laptop will often exacerbate the issue because use of a smaller workspace will lead to hunching of the shoulders, and bending forwards of the spine in an attempt to lean forward to use the device. 

The possibility for tendonitis in the wrists from repetitive strain is also a concern.

Ideally you should pay good attention to your posture by sitting up straight in your seat and by taking breaks throughout the day to stretch and move. 

Small changes to your work environment can make a big difference to your symptoms. 

Investing in an external keyboard will enable you to increase the distance of the screen from the keyboard and will improve posture and lessen the likelihood of back pain. Use of an external mouse will help reduce poor posture.

It is important to make sure you are sitting straight in front of the screen to avoid unnecessary twisting and bending which can worsen back pain.

Adjusting the height of your chair at your desk is also important. Ideally the seat height should be adjusted so that your thighs are at right angles to the body with your feet firmly on the floor or on a footrest to allow support for the back.

Use of wrist rests can also help to maintain a comfortable posture and avoid back and wrist pains.

The monitor screen should be positioned so it can be viewed with the head and neck in a comfortable relaxed position, ideally at arms-length from the body.

Small changes can make a big difference and paying attention to posture while taking breaks to stretch and move should go a long way to improving the symptoms you are experiencing.


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