From the moment you learned the good news, you’ve had the weight issue in the back of your mind. You were thrilled to be giving birth but a little worried about losing the weight afterward. And if this was your first pregnancy, there are a few more questions about how it all happens.

The truth is, many women do stay a few pounds heavier after birth. The entire birth process affects every part of your body and some long-term body changes are normal. The good news is you can lose most of the weight and get back to tip-top fitness.

Take It Easy

The first six weeks after giving birth are days to rest, enjoy, learn to know the new member of the family and let your body gain strength. After all, you’ve been busy for nine months creating a whole new person!

Post-partum fitness expert, Renee M Jeffreys says, “Most women’s bodies aren’t ready for serious exercise until six weeks after birth, and more if they underwent a Cesarean section.” No you won’t just be sitting around eating bonbons, you’ll be tending baby full-time, missing nighttime sleep and looking for opportunities to nap when baby does.

If you’re breastfeeding you can take encouragement from the fact that although you need to eat more to maintain your breast milk, you’ll also burn 600-800 calories a day just breastfeeding. Many women begin to lose pregnancy weight through breastfeeding alone. Once you stop breastfeeding you’ll need to adjust your calorie intake.

Another way to take care of your post-partum body is through healthy diet. Avoid those empty calorie sodas and chips and take in plenty of fiber by eating healthy snacks such as whole grain crackers, veggies and lean proteins. This is not a time to say “anything goes” diet-wise. Get off to a good start on your return to a target weight.

Step It Up

After the first six weeks you’re ready to begin a moderate exercise program. Aim for thirty minutes a day, five times a week. You may want to break that up into ten-minute segments at first. You’ll want to include walking, cycling or swimming in your regimen. Walking with baby in a stroller is the ideal exercise in these early months of baby’s life. It’s good for both of you to get out of doors and enjoy a change of scenery.

Set goals to increase your speed and distance. Using a pedometer or Fitbit to measure your steps is a good motivator. A reasonable goal is walking at a mile every fifteen minutes. If you’re able to join a postnatal exercise group, that’s a wonderful way to share your new baby experiences and get in a good exercise session at the same time. Most of these classes allow you to bring baby along.

If you’re unable to get to a formal exercise class, consider buying a postnatal exercise DVD. Be sure the program is doctor approved, such as postnatal Pilates, and enjoy at your leisure.

Patience and Persistence

The early months with a new baby are ones of intense joy and many challenges. You’re tired much of the time. So be patient with yourself and readjust your goals if necessary. But don’t give up. Do what you can each day, take joy in each new milestone of the journey and before you know it, you’ll be wearing those skinny jeans again.

 

 

Resources

Books

10 Steps to Getting Back into Shape After Giving Birth by Carrie Delvaux.

Body After Baby: A Simple, Healthy Plan to Lose Your Baby Weight Fast by Jackie Keller.

I’ve Just Had a Baby by Alison Bourne.

Tips for How to Lose the Baby Weight by Suz Redfearn.

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Katherine Martinelli, Child Mind Institute
Cindi Lane, Volusia County Schools
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Brittany S Bruggeman, MD, FAAP
By Evolve Editorial Team
By Evolve Editorial Team