The days, weeks and even months after you have a baby can be quite a whirlwind. You’re sleep-deprived, riding an emotional rollercoaster, adapting to a new schedule, and trying to focus on one of the most important jobs in the world … being a good mom!
At the same time, you’re trying to come to terms with your new “post-baby body” that probably doesn’t look or feel anything like what you had 9 months ago!
Before you go into panic mode, know that you certainly CAN get back into great shape after having children. But, at the same time, understand that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to quickly lose weight after your pregnancy.
The key is taking a smart approach when it comes to losing baby-weight. Here are 6 tips that will help you work your way back to your pre-pregnancy body … or even better!
1. Allow Your Body To Recuperate
Being a new mom is important job, so focus on taking the time to enjoy that new little person in your life. Your body is in “repair” mode after giving birth, so it’s important not to rush back into a diet/fitness routine. Give your body enough time to recuperate and restore its normal processes. Understand that getting your body back into shape will take time, so as your body heals know that patience, good health habits and self-love will go a long way.
2. Get Up & Move
Once you start to settle in get the green light from your doctor, start easing back into movement by taking short walks. Most new moms are not ready for serious exercise for at least 6 weeks after giving birth (longer if they had a C-Section), so focus on gradually working your way up to 20-30 minute walks 4-6 times/week. After your 6 week check-up, you may get the green light to do more!
Mothers who breastfeed burn approximately an extra 800 calories/day, so that can go a long way in helping drop some of that extra weight. Keep in mind, however, that your body will need an extra 500 calories/day when breastfeeding. Be sure to get your calories from a variety of nutrient-rich meals and avoid “empty-calorie” foods like soda, chips, sugary sweets, etc.. Once you stop or taper-off breastfeeding, your calorie needs will decrease. This is a good time to adjust your meal planning and make sure you’re on a regular exercise routine to avoid packing on unwanted weight.
4. Get Plenty of Rest
Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on new moms. Not only will it sap your energy and increase cravings, but it will upset your metabolism and make it very difficult to lose that extra pregnancy weight. Don’t feel guilty about trying to sneak in a nap when your baby is sleeping. And in those early weeks do not sacrifice sleep in order to fit in a workout … your body needs the recovery more than a workout at that point.
5. Establish an Eating Philosophy
When you were pregnant you may have felt like you could eat anything and get away with it. Unfortunately, this way of thinking won’t cut it once the baby is born. It’s time to establish some rules when it comes to your nutritional needs to help improve your metabolism and do away with the cravings.
- Focus on smaller, balanced meals spread out throughout the day
- Breakfast is your most important meal
- Be sure to incorporate good sources of protein to control hunger
- Add extra fiber to your meals to help fill you without the extra calories
- Include healthy fats like nuts and avocados,
- Try to have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on hand
6. Get Back to a Regular Exercise Routine
Hopefully you were working out throughout your pregnancy, which will make getting back into a routine all that much easier. If not, don’t sweat it … you can start a regular routine and stick with it! You already know that getting back to exercise is a gradual process, but there are a few things that new moms should focus as they get the green light from their doctors:
- Bridge and plank exercise will help strengthen the abdominal and core areas
- Incorporate yoga or pilates to help with strength and flexibility
- Cardio focused exercise should gradually be added back in. Things like swimming, biking, elliptical/treadmill workouts, etc. will do a great job of getting your heart rate up.
- Add the weights back in. Moms need to be strong, so be sure to incorporate strength training exercises to target the entire body. Strength training will go a long way in speeding up your metabolism and helping you drop unwanted fat.
Remember, be patient and embrace the challenge of getting your body back. While the weight may not drop off as quickly as you like, stick to it and follow the guidelines above and you WILL succeed!
About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.