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We’ve all seen it right? Those celebrities who pop back into shape weeks after having a baby. How do they lose the pregnancy weight? And is it healthy? Safe?
Most women of average weight should expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. A pregnant woman can lose up to 12 pounds during delivery; weight of baby plus amniotic fluid and placenta.
But what about losing the rest of the pregnancy weight? And of course we’re mom’s now, we have to lose the weight safely.
And where is that weight coming from? You also gain weight in increased breast tissue, increase blood supply and enlarged uterus. Your uterus may be so enlarged it may not seem like giving birth shrunk your baby bump at all for the first few weeks until it shrinks back down.
My belly reminded me of a large flat tire after I gave birth.
Getting your body back
First of all, you just gave birth. Your body has been through a trauma of sorts, in a good way. Take a rest. Revel in the new baby for a while. Getting back into shape can wait a bit. Cheryl Lovelady, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, says to give yourself a month before worrying about the weight.
Wraps weren’t such a thing after my first two births except for belly binding, which looked pretty but seemed like a talent I did not possess to get that cloth tied around me.
I did use a Cinch wrap after my third. I was hoping to take advantage of the relaxin in my body to squish my hips smaller again. It didn’t stay low enough on my hips for that. It seemed to shrink my belly faster than the previous two. But I can’t really say for sure.
I can say it didn’t totally heal my diastasis recti. So that was a bummer.
My midwife insisted I stay in bed for two weeks after giving birth. Getting yelled at by my midwife was scarier than getting yelled at by my mom. Plus I experienced the effects of pushing myself too hard, too fast after my first birth. So, after you give your body time to heal, you can start exercising again.
Start out easy, especially if you didn’t exercise during or before your pregnancy. Walking, yoga and swimming are great. Bonus: Walking you can easily do with baby. As you get into more of a routine with baby and feeling stronger in your body, you can up your game with running, intense cycling or whatever work out you did before or want to start.
Breastfeeding and losing pregnancy weight
Easiest work out ever! Actually for many women, it’s not so don’t beat your self up if breastfeeding isn’t a possibility for you. Skip this section and read on.
If you are able and it is going well, breastfeeding can help you lose some of the pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day. Seriously sitting there starting at your baby while burning 500 calories. A great way to burn away. Breastfeeding also stimulates hormones that help shrink that uterus, thereby the remaining belly.
When diet comes into play
If you are breastfeeding you still need adequate healthy calories to produce milk. You may not be ready to cut calories yet. Discuss it with your doctor.
Whether you are breastfeeding or not, you want to maintain healthy eating practices with nutrient dense foods that you either picked up or kept during pregnancy for your baby’s growth and development. Remember to stay well hydrated with lots of water.
And you certainly don’t want to deprive your self. When you want to snack, choose something healthy and light like an apple and some pretzels or a nutritional protein shake. When you are craving something sweet, maybe eat a frozen yogurt pack you popped in the freezer instead of ice cream or a single-serve chocolate pudding instead of piece of chocolate cake.
Pregnancy weight tends to come off quickly at first and slowing as time goes on. Sometimes women get stuck on the last few pounds. Then women should talk to their doctor and may need the structure of a weight-loss program or evidence-based diet.
After our third baby weened entirely, around a year old, I turned to a nutritional cleansing program to drop my last few straggling pounds. Worked like a charm. I often said I felt like I had a whole body lift.
Set goals, have patience
Of course we all want to jump back as fast as possible but it did take us 10 months to gain the weight, it will take some time loose the pregnancy weight. Many factors play into losing the pregnancy weight including activity level, age, sleep and what you eat. Being a new mom can introduce challenges, like being busy taking care of baby and lack of sleep, that make dropping the weight less easy.
Experts say most women are able to lose their extra weight within 6 to 12 months after they give birth.
Even when, or if, you reach your goal weight, your body’s shape may not be the same as it was before. Some things will never go back. After 3 kids, my hips are wider. That’s not going to change back. I had to accept my old jeans would just not fit the same, ever.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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