Is the baby gone, but not the belly? This is typical. After all, you were carrying a human being inside your body for nine months. It can take up to a year for your body to make a full recovery.
This does not mean you should hop on the nearest treadmill and start counting calories. Dieting too soon after you’ve had a baby can slow your body’s recovery. And depending on what kind of birth you had, it may be 4 to 8 weeks before you can start intensive exercise. In fact, you’ll need to wait until you get clearance from your Obstetrician and Gynecologist at your 6-week post partum visit at your local OB/GYN clinic.
The good news is that from the moment you give birth, your belly starts slowly shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy state. Many women will lose about 8 to 20 pounds during that first two weeks as the body gets rid of all that extra fluid. It takes about four weeks for your uterus to contract to its normal size. It will also take time for your hips and pelvic area to shift back to their pre-pregnancy state.
In addition to your body’s natural tendency toward losing weight after pregnancy, there are a few ways to get in shape and lose that baby weight.
Working out with Baby
Weight training can help speed up your metabolism. And you don’t even have to go to the gym. Incorporate your baby into your workout by holding the baby to your chest and doing lunges, or push the stroller and do the lunges behind the stroller as you walk. You can also lie on your back, holding the baby above your chest, and slowly lift them toward the ceiling several times. When you’re doctor says you’re ready, bring the baby on your run with a jogging stroller.
Spread your workouts throughout the day. If you have time while the baby is sleeping, take some laps around the house or jog up and down the stairs.
Breastfeeding can help you lose weight, requiring an extra 500 calories from you a day and helping reduce some of the fat you gained during pregnancy. But since breastfeeding burns 600 to 800 calories a day, it is still possible to lose weight. If you breastfeed, make sure you’re giving your body enough nutrition needed for extra energy that’s required. It’s OK to eat healthily, but restricting your calories too much can reduce your milk supply.
Losing more than two pounds a week can release toxins into the breast milk. Some studies show that moderate exercise won’t affect milk production as long as you’re giving your body enough calories.
Are You Sure You Want to Eat That?
Avoid empty-calorie foods like soft drinks and potato chips. Instead, increase your intake of nutrient-rich foods such as fresh fruits, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy products and vegetables. To avoid temptation, keep only nutritious foods at your fingertips. And stock up on low-fat milk and yogurt for snacks, as studies have shown that calcium from milk and yogurt actually can aid weight loss by blocking a hormone that allows the body to store fat.
Eating too much sugar can send your blood-sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride. And when your blood sugar drops, you’re more likely to eat the first thing you can get your hands on. Eating small meals throughout the day will keep your blood sugar levels steady and help prevent you from overeating. Keep in mind that if your calories are distributed throughout the day, they’re metabolized more efficiently and are less likely to be stored as fat.
And watch the juices. All the vitamin C you need for one day is in a small glass of orange juice. Any more than that and you’ll be drinking unnecessary calories. Increase your fiber intake with snacks such as figs, raisins or whole-wheat crackers with veggies.
Strange sleep cycles like those forced on you by a newborn can upset your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose your pregnancy weight. Take a nap anytime the baby does. With enough sleep, you’ll keep your energy levels and your potentially naughty cravings in check and you won’t end up with a long-term sleep deficit.
Don’t sacrifice sleep for exercise time in those early weeks. If you don’t sleep enough, you won’t have enough energy for satisfying workouts, anyway.
Samantha Gluck is a writer who specializes in various topics including pediatric healthcare, OB/GYN healthcare, business and much more.