Baby steps to shedding weight after pregnancy

Baby steps to shedding weight after pregnancy

If you have recently had a baby, your world probably revolves around caring for your precious little one. But taking care of yourself is important, too. Your health is not only vital to your own well-being, it will help you be a stronger mother.

Unfortunately, the many demands of motherhood can make finding time to focus on your health difficult. Below are some tips to help you shed weight after pregnancy and create a healthy life for both you and your child.

Keep perspective

Your body performed an amazing feat over the past nine months. And it is important to honor your body and let it heal. Do not expect to bounce back to prepregnancy shape overnight. “Keep in mind that everyone is different; some women can lose the weight quickly while others may take a little while to return to prepregnancy weight. It takes most women six to nine months to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy,” says Heather Butscher, MS, RDN, LD, a registered, licensed dietitian nutritionist at the Center for Women’s Health at University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital.

When you first get home from the hospital, focus only on caring for your baby and treating yourself well. Eat healthy, whole foods. And try to sleep when you can. Chances are, some extra pounds will begin to fall off by themselves without much effort.

Consider breastfeeding

“Breastfeeding offers countless health benefits to you and your baby,” says Butscher. Studies show one fringe benefit is that breastfeeding can help you lose weight because it requires a lot of energy. In fact, women who breastfeed can burn up to 500 extra calories per day in the first six months of nursing. “If you maintain a healthy diet, you can successfully feed your baby and shed pounds at the same time,” says Butscher.

Get moving

Once you get the go-ahead from your doctor, slowly work exercise back into your routine. Start by taking walks with your baby in the stroller. The fresh air and change of scenery is good for both of you. Plus, you will not have to find a baby sitter. “When you are ready, look for exercise groups geared for new moms, such as postpartum yoga, aerobics or baby-and-me walking groups,” says Butscher.

Focus on nutrition

Although an occasional drive-thru run is fine, a steady diet of take-out or processed foods will slow your weight loss and wreak havoc on your health. Instead, plan ahead to have nutritious foods at the ready. “Ask friends and family to drop off healthy meals,” says Butscher. “When you find time to cook, make and freeze extra portions.”

Questions about postpartum nutrition and weight loss?

Visit our online pregnancy and newborn library at UHhospitals.org/HealthyPregnancy.

Lose It!

Download “Lose It!,” a FREE smartphone app to help you lose that baby weight. The app features a sophisticated weight tracker, dining out calorie counter, and it calculates calories burned by exercise. The app is available on Android, iOS, Nook, Kindle and the Web.

HEATHER BUTSCHER, MS, RDN, LD

HEATHER BUTSCHER, MS, RDN, LD
Registered, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, Center for Women’s Health, UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital
Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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