Online chat with Kate Cook

This is an edited transcript of our online chat with Kate Cook, co-author of An Unfit Mother, on Wednesday 4 June 2008 from 1-2pm. The book offers "inspiration, motivation and guidance on how to rebuild your body confidence and explains how it's possible to reclaim your body post birth, and lose your baby-bulge swiftly, safely and successfully". Kate is a mother and a nutritional therapist and life coach.


Anna888:  I live in France, where obstetricians routinely enforce recommend a maximum weight gain of 9kg in pregnancy - less if a women is overweight before pregnancy begins. This is to ensure that a woman regains her pre-pregnancy figure as quickly as possible and avoids stretchmarks, undue strain on her pelvic floor etc.

I gave birth in England where the midwives seemed deeply unconcerned about my weight gain. I did, indeed, gain 18kg during my pregnancy, but lost it all within 6 months of giving birth (and was thinner still after a further few months of breastfeeding).

Although my body didn't suffer unduly from pregnancy, I do wonder whether my skin on my tummy would be less crepey today had I not gained so much weight. And when I read on MN about stretchmarks, really wobbly skin, severe pelvic floor problems etc, and also read that some women gain 20-25 kg during pregnancy, I wonder which advice to believe - the English or the French?

KateCook: The French ( I am slightly making this up) but certainly the Italians (I lived in Italy so know more about Italy) have a much better general philosophy about eating generally – we, Brits, generally don’t have a clue – and it is not our much contradictory advice out there – in the book I teach mum’s that actually it is better to know what do eat before you even start to get pregnant and then you are not going to balloon in weight – this is not for aesthetic reasons – but for health reasons. It is much harder to get your eating habits/exercise habits “back in the tin” after pregnancy if the habit didn’t exist in the first place. 

currymummy: I was 2 stone over weight when I got pregnant - I blame my long work hours and large glasses of wine! I had an emergency c-section in March and my little man was tongue tied so I couldn't breast feed him (a traumatic experience but once it was diagnosed I was exhausted and he needed food so we went on to the bottle). I'm really dissapointed because I'd hoped that breastfeeding would help me get some shape back. I'm now 3 stone heavier than I should be and I have a hidious overhang and I feel so unsexy that it is getting in the way of my relationship with my husband. I eat fairly sensibly and I know it's supposed to be a simple case of calories in versus calories burned so I have up'd my expercise but nothings happening - HELP? 

KateCook: The C-section op is a major op – we forget that! It is really hard. But if you know what to eat and when…I am sure that it would make a huge difference, step by step. Don’t feel under pressure however (or don’t put yourself under pressure more like it) are OK! PS You mention that long working hours and wine didn’t help before you got pregnant – I totally agree – nutrition is a time management issue – how to prioritise your food, and your exercise when there are a million and one drags on your time...  

morningpaper: Oh what can be done about tummy wrinkles? They look worse the more weight you lose! In fact I occasionally think I might get knocked up again just so I can have a smooth belly for a while...

gemmiegoatlegs: hi Kate, it is now nearly 3 years since I popped my last sprog and although i didn't put on much weight and lost it all soon after, like most mumsnetters I feel like my tummy is letting me down. I wear a size 6 in my jeans but when i take them off the tum wobbles off again of its own accord. I exercise 4 times a week, eat pretty healthily and have the occasional treat. Do i have to live with the saggy tum forever or can I do something to get rid of it? 

KateCook: Not sure what to say about the tummy wrinkles..I am sure Lucy (who did the exercise stuff would have something to say on it..I think some people are really unlucky on that point..
From a nutritional point of view - it could be a shortage of essential fatty acids (fish oil, nuts and seeds) or vit C which makes the skin less elastic - it helps if this is sorted out before pregnancy though... 

saffy1: you mention 'balancing your blood sugars' can you elaborate on this? I sometimes find that when I'm really busy I don't get chance to eat properly and end up feeling a bit weird - what foods can we eat/snack on that will stop this? 

KateCook: Balancing the blood sugar is one of the foundations of what I do as a nutritional therapist when patients come and see me. Basically food "burns" turns into sugar (and therefore fat)at different rates - I am sure you have heard of the GI diets etc? I find it all too complicated for normal life. So really simplistically:

Food which is sweet, fluffy (ie light in weight) or white is fast burn and food that is thick (heavy), fibrous (veg) protein is slow burn. If you balance the blood sugar - you will be less inclined to reach for the cream buns. By the way, if you are really time poor - the one thing NOT to skip is breakfast - this makes a HUGE difference (it means "breaking the fast") - this helps get your blood sugar balanced right from the start and the whole of the rest of day feels so much better. 

ggglimpopo: Do you think that it gets harder to lose weight , the older you get? Am also in France and the French certainly believe this - the supermarket shelves are laden with slimming products 'for the over-40s'. Or have I just had too many children and my body is trying to tell me something? 

KateCook: As we get older, body chemistry does slow up (thyroid, the way cells communicate with each other, liver etc, horomones and how those hormones are processed by the body) - so yes in a way...but I have found I am slimmer now than I was in my 30s - just because I really just didn't know HOW to eat. I didnt know that the French targeted women in their 40s.. maybe that is something to do with body image too ie wanting the same bodies as we had in our youth. 

champagnesupernova: Protein in snacks is all very well, but I have yet to find a proteiny snack that is as easy as a custard cream. 

KateCook: Custard creams are certainly more handy, but obviously not a great blood sugar balancing snack (being white and sweet!) I know some of the more nutritionally worthy snacks don't cut the mustard taste wise but once you feel better and more energised by eating stuff that helps energy you the custard creams wont even be on the radar!

Last updated: 7 months ago