Being pregnant is an important job. A woman must maintain a healthy appetite to provide the proper nourishment for her growing baby. However, once the baby is born a woman is often left with a few extra pounds that she may want to shed. Before starting any weight loss routine it is important to wait until your doctor says it is okay to diet and exercise. The body needs time to heal from delivery and therefore it is necessary to give yourself some time before rushing to lose post pregnancy weight.
For women that decide to breastfeed after birth, it is important to realize that restricting calories for weight loss can often result in lactating problems with breast milk. Breastfeeding takes a lot of calories, so you may want to discuss this with your doctor as well. Often, women who breastfeed for a few months after their baby is born, find that the weight they had gained during pregnancy disappears due to the high demand of calories it takes to feed the baby.
If you are not breastfeeding and the doctor gives you the okay to exercise then there are a few things you can do to start losing that baby weight. First, it is important to realize that you are not eating for two anymore. Make sure you are eating a healthy balanced diet. Pregnancy is often responsible for poor eating habits. When you get a craving for a chocolate sundae during pregnancy, you are likely to give in to your cravings. However, once the baby is born you need to start thinking about whether or not you really need to eat that ice cream sundae! Now this is not saying you cannot have the occasional treat but it is important to make wise food choices in order to shed excess baby weight. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is very important. The more fruits and vegetables you eat the more weight you will lose. Stick to whole grains in cereals, breads and pastas. Make sure you eat your protein but try to get it through a variety of sources. Protein in beans, soy foods, dairy products, and nuts are healthier and digest quicker than protein you get through meat. Eating meats that are fatty will not help you lose weight. Stay away from foods full of sodium and sugars and make sure you are not drinking soda. These are very bad for you and will put weight on very quickly. Drink plenty of water and eat small meals and snacks several times a day instead of 3 large meals. Do not skip breakfast. Eating a meal first thing in the morning will get your metabolism going early in the day.
When you are a new mom, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. You are tired and worn out from taking care of a baby. But adding just a few minutes of exercise into your day can make a big difference. If you get a bit of time away from the house you can go for a quick walk, jog or bike ride or you can try putting your baby in the stroller and taking him or her along with you for a nice stroll around the neighborhood. If you cannot get away from the house then you may have to find other ways of burning calories. Do you have stairs in your house? If so, try going up and down them a few extra times a day while the baby is napping. Turn the music on and dance around the house. It may sound silly, but every calorie burned gets you closer to your goal weight.
Lastly, give it time. Do not be hard on yourself. You just created and carried a precious baby for nine months and it will take time to get the weight back off. Be patient and you will see results.
Jackie Hogan, MS, RD is a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles. She is a member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND-LAD) and the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Practice Group and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jackie has been featured on Women’s Health, Fitness Magazine, Women’s Fitness, and Men’s Fitness magazine.