If you’re like many new mothers, you began looking for ways to start shedding baby weight shortly after your baby was born – right? – or maybe you started thinking about it while you were pregnant. If so, that’s not surprising, given the unrealistic expectations set by some celebrity moms for how quickly a woman should be able to get back into shape after giving birth.
Most medical professionals agree, however, that quick weight loss is not healthy.
The most important thing to remember is that you won’t lose the baby weight overnight, so don’t become frustrated if you do not see immediate results. It took your body about nine months to put on the weight, so anticipate approximately the same amount of time or longer to get your body back into pre-baby shape.
If you recently had a baby, here are some ways to lose baby weight safely and naturally, as recommended by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a nonprofit organization of women’s health care physicians, (but be sure to check with your physician first, to make sure that these ways are safe for you at this time):
It might seem counter-intuitive, but going on a strict, restrictive diet could be the worst thing to do. Depriving oneself of favorite foods while already stressed by the responsibilities of being a new parent could actually cause weight gain rather than weight loss.
Moderation is key. A well-balanced diet loaded with “super foods,” or foods that are full of nutrients and light in calories and fat, can do wonders when trying to shed baby weight. Especially if breast-feeding, it can be important not to consume less than 1,800 calories a day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals
Breast-feed – Maybe.
The jury is still out on whether or not breast-feeding helps mothers to lose weight post-pregnancy. Breast-feeding does, however, allow a new mom to add extra calories a day to her diet, especially if the baby is a really big eater or if she had twins. Breast-feeding can burn between 600 to 800 calories a day.
Just because you’ve delivered your baby, you’re technically still eating for two people if you’re breast-feeding. Again, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet. Keep in mind that as you start to wean your baby off of breast milk and toward solid foods, you will no longer require as many calories. Without adjusting your diet or increasing your exercise routine, you could start to gain weight instead of losing it.
Move Your Body.
As a new mother, especially in the beginning, you probably feel tired much of the time. Often, the last thing on your mind may be exercise. Something as simple as taking your baby for a short walk around the block can be a great first step. Unable to go outdoors? Turn on some music and dance with your baby. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to move your body.
Remember, it can take your body four to six weeks to fully recover from giving birth (and sometimes longer if you had a C-section). Before jumping into any kind of exercise program, be sure to consult with your doctor first to make sure that you’re ready.
As your body begins to heal and you fall into a more regular routine, you could increase your amount of exercise and weight training. Find out if your community offers any “mommy and me” workout classes. That way you can get the added benefit of socializing with, and support from, other new moms in your area!
Get Enough Sleep.
Running on little to no sleep, unfortunately, is a way of life for most parents of newborns. You’ve probably received tips from other parents that you should sleep when your baby sleeps, take naps when you can, and so forth. It’s important to heed that advice, not just for sanity but also for your health and weight-loss goals.
When your body is tired, it releases cortisol and other stress hormones that can promote weight gain. Try your best to get as close as you can to seven to eight hours of sleep a night, even if the hours are not consecutive.