If you’re like most women, you haven’t shed all the “baby weight” you thought you would have after delivery or even six weeks after welcoming your new bundle of joy. Well, don’t fret, there are a few simple things you can incorporate into your daily routine that will help you shed those unwanted pounds. The key is to take it slow, realizing that it took approximately 9 months to acquire this extra weight, and it will likely take several weeks to return to a “new normal”.
The first step in this process is to accept that the changes your body has undergone served a very special purpose to prepare for a new baby. Now that this purpose has been fulfilled, your body can redirect energy and resources toward re-establishing your healthy weight and body size. To lose the “baby weight”, new mothers should increase their physical activity and only limit their calories a minimal amount. Furthermore, these changes should only begin after receiving “clearance” during your six-week postpartum check-up.
In general, it’s not a good idea to go on a very restrictive diet, as you’ll need considerable energy to care for a new baby. Women need a minimum of 1200 calories a day to be healthy, and many women need 300 to 1000 more calories (~1500 to 2200 calories) to maintain appropriate energy levels. Women who are breastfeeding need a minimum of 1800 calories a day and may need as many as 2,700 calories to care for themselves and a growing baby. Additionally, women who are breastfeeding should wait at least 2 months after childbirth to restrict any calories as this “dieting” could limit their milk supply. When cutting calories, take it slow and cut out no more than 500 calories a day, ensuring that you lose no more than a pound and a half a week. This will assist with maintaining your energy level, help avoid feeling hungry and leading to overeating, and more likely lead to long-term, sustainable weight loss and attainment of a healthy weight and body size.
Likewise, as a part of a healthy diet that supports weight loss or just maintaining a healthy weight, try eating low-fat, high fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables and substituting “good” fats, such as nuts and fatty fish, like salmon for “bad” fats, found in fried foods and sweets. Practice eating breakfast and try eating several small meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals. Drink lots of water and eat slow enough to feel full during your meal without rushing and overeating.
To expedite weight loss, women should incorporate exercise and practice being as active as possible. By burning calories through low-resistance weight lifting and aerobic exercise, women can lose unwanted fat without losing muscle mass. Also, exercise helps women regain tone and structure. This is important because many women develop “problem areas”, such as a softer belly after pregnancy. Also, some women’s hips and waists expand a few inches as well as some women’s breast are enlarged. These body changes may persist, as it is possible that some women are not able to return to their pre-pregnancy shape and size. However, for the most part, with reasonable exercise and healthy eating, women are able to obtain and maintain a healthy weight and body size. Most importantly, many women practice a healthy lifestyle that can be shared with their new family member.