The only disappointing part of having a baby is the weight gain that tends to come along with it. Many women struggle with getting rid of the extra pounds after delivery. Not only is it frustrating, but it can also increase depression and low self-esteem that tends to arise as new moms get used to their new body. Postpartum weight loss is possible, however; there are ways to regain your pre-pregnancy form and feel good about the way you look again. Losing baby weight isn’t very different from losing weight in general, although you may find the areas needing a work out focus to be a little different. Here are four tips for losing postpartum weight.
Don’t do too much too soon.
You may feel ready to take off running and pumping iron the day after you deliver, but giving your body time to recover from pregnancy and labor is important -- particularly so if you have a cesarean section or other complications. Most experts recommend waiting six weeks to return to your full activity level, although there are certain less intensive things you can start doing sooner. Additionally, check with your doctor before picking up any activities you haven’t done before (i.e., if you’ve never exercised much, it’s a good idea to double check your intended workout with your primary doctor). Furthermore, depriving your body of nutritional intake in the weeks after labor can be detrimental to postpartum healing.
Create an exercise program that is appropriate for you.
Completely losing baby weight takes most women up to a year -- it took nine months to make a baby and often takes that long to return to a semblance of your former body. For most women, moderate amounts of low stress and low impact exercise shortly after returning home from the hospital is recommended. Figure out which areas of your body need the most help, and develop an exercise program that will focus on those areas. For example, the majority of new moms are frustrated with their stomachs, so find exercises to help tone your abdomen.
Make sure your diet is sustainable and appropriate to your situation.
The key to “dieting” is to avoid crash dieting, and instead to eat in a way that nourishes your body rather than satisfies cravings. If you are breastfeeding, it is important to include that fact as you choose appropriate foods. Breastfeeding requires about an extra 500 calories and 50% more water than a standard diet, and those calories should come from healthy options. Make sure to include breastfeeding friendly foods in your diet. If you elect to formula feed instead, eating about 1500 calories a day should keep your body healthy and help you lose about a pound a week.
Keep it fun!
While some women enjoy staying active and going jogging for fun, getting off the couch can be difficult if your hobbies aren’t exactly lively. Getting a friend to join you can make working out less tedious, particularly if your work out buddy is a new parent. You can also include your little one in your exercises. Grab a stroller and walk around the block, or use Baby as the weight in strength training exercises (for example, you can do baby-lifts, instead of lifting weights). Most importantly, find activities you enjoy instead of forcing yourself to do things you hate. If you don’t like running, but love being in the water, swim your laps instead of running them. Dancing, yoga, pilates, or group sports can be great ways to combine weight loss with fun instead of tedium.