5 Ways to Get Back to a Healthy Weight Post-Baby
Being a new mom isn’t easy, but in addition to finding time to sleep and taking care of your new baby, most new moms also want to lose the baby weight as soon as possible after giving birth.
While it’s important to give your body time to recover from pregnancy and birth before starting a new exercise regimen, doctors say it’s equally important to lose the baby weight after giving birth. Not losing the weight could increase your risk of being overweight or obese 15 to 20 years later.
If you gained only the recommended 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy, it shouldn’t take long to lose it again. Even if you gained more, there’s a lot you can do to take the baby weight back off. You should make self-care a priority, and consider breastfeeding your baby — it could help you burn extra calories.
If you’ve gained a lot of weight, a weight-loss program might be the thing to help you lose it. But be patient — it took almost a year to put on that baby weight, and it’s going to take a while to lose it.
1. Start Exercising Regularly as Soon as You Can
No one’s saying you have to jump right back into an exercise routine the day after giving birth. To the contrary, your doctor will want you to take several weeks to recover physically from the trauma of childbirth. But once your doctor gives the okay, you need to make regular exercise a part of your life again.
Aim for two and a half hours, or 150 minutes, a week. You can break this time up into 10 or 20-minute intervals if that makes it easier to manage with your hectic schedule.
You don’t have to run a marathon. Brisk walking while pushing your baby in his or her stroller is sufficient. Incorporate some strength training into your workout too. Light weight lifting or yoga is ideal.
2. Consider Breastfeeding
While breastfeeding alone may not be enough to help you shed all the baby weight, you can burn about 500 calories a day just by breastfeeding exclusively. However, you’ll still need to maintain a certain daily calorie intake to protect your own body’s nutritional needs.
You should talk to your doctor about how much to eat each day, but in general, you’ll need to eat about 300 extra calories each day to make up for the 500 lost to breastfeeding, leaving you a 200-calorie-a-day deficit to go toward your weight loss goals.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep deprivation stimulates the release of stress hormones like cortisol that make it harder to lose weight. Not only that, but being exhausted makes it harder to make healthy choices. You’re more likely to skip the gym and grab a Big Mac when you’re tired.
While getting a full eight hours of sleep each night might seem impossible when you have a young baby who can’t yet sleep through the night, try to take your mother’s advice and sleep when the baby sleeps. Going to bed early can also help you catch up on sleep.
4. Consider a Weight Loss Program
If you only gained the recommended amount of weight during your pregnancy, then you can probably take it off in a few months just by watching what you eat and exercising regularly. If you gained more than the recommended amount, however, you may want to consider a weight loss program tailored to new moms. That’s especially true if you were already overweight or obese before getting pregnant.
5. Be Patient
Many new moms get frustrated when, five or six months after having the baby, they’re still struggling to lose the extra weight. While it can be especially difficult to lose the last few pounds of excess baby weight, a gradual approach to weight loss is the healthiest one. Remember, it took you nine months to gain all that baby weight — it will probably take you that long again, if not longer, to lose it after the baby is born.
If you’re like most new moms, the day you gave birth to your baby was one of the most wonderful of your life. But that doesn’t mean you’re not anxious to lose the baby weight. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and be patient. The weight will come off eventually, if you work hard enough.