You just had a baby! That bundle of joy in your arms is the more precious than you could have imagined and you are most likely relishing in motherhood. But for most women there is also a strong urge to get back their “pre-pregnancy body.” As much as you love your new son or daughter, pregnancy can still feel a little like an alien creature taking over your body. It is only natural to want to feel like your old self again.
Below are some great tips to help you lose weight after pregnancy but it is so important to remember that your body just did something amazing! As frustrating as it may seem that you cannot get your pre-baby body back overnight, it can and will happen. Just remember to take a deep breath, kiss you baby and cut yourself some slack!
Working out is so beneficial for new moms – not just to help lose weight after having a baby but also to help prevent depression, to sleep better and to relieve stress. If the idea of working out seems overwhelming, think smaller. Just focus on getting up and moving. To get moving, you don’t need to be participating in any strenuous activity. Most doctors recommend that women abstain from strenuous activity for at least six weeks after giving birth, more if it was a cesarean.
Some ideas to get moving include going up and down the stairs a few extra times during your day, walking to visit with a neighbor, bringing your baby to a park, and pacing the hallway as your rock your baby instead of doing so in a chair. As time progresses, you can start incorporating more typically “exercises.”
When you resume exercising, remember to start small. Not only has your body just gone through some major changes but you also may not be able to find 30 continuous minutes a day to work out. That’s ok – instead, break up your workout into 3 10-minute increments and fit it in where you can. As long as you are moving, it will help you lose the weight after baby.
Set a tangible goal
As with anything you are trying to achieve, setting a tangible goal increases the chance of success. If you are trying to lose the weight you gained while pregnant, set a goal that is not simply losing a certain number of pounds. This will give you something to work towards while also helping the weight come off. The goal (or goals) can be anything that will give you a measure of success. Pick something that will mean something to you as that will increase your motivation. Some examples include: an upcoming race you want to run, a certain outfit you want to comfortably wear, or a hike you want to complete successfully.
Find a buddy
Building a support system will be crucial to finding success. You want to surround yourself with people who will support you in your goals of getting fit. One of the best ways to get motivated is to find someone to be active with. It can be a friend, a family member or another new mom who shares your goals. If you are meeting a friend at the park to go for a run, you are much more likely to actually go running. Not only can this buddy participate in your workouts with you, but they will hold you accountable for your goals. Partnering with another new mom is a particularly great idea for how to lose the weight after pregnancy since you both have the same goals.
Incorporate your baby into your workout
It may be impossible to get time to yourself for a workout, or maybe you just don’t want to be away from your new little one. That doesn’t mean you can’t workout with them! There are so many ways to include your baby that it is almost impossible to come up with reasons not to work out. Some of these ideas include: get a jogging stroller and go for a run; put your baby in a carrier and go for a walk around the block; use your baby instead of weights for some added strength training.
Breastfeed your baby
The benefits for your baby of breastfeeding are numerous but it is also really positive for moms too! Breastfeeding can burn up to an additional 500 calories per day (when exclusively breastfeeding). The assumption that women can lose all or most of their baby weight from breastfeeding alone has never been scientifically proven and how much pregnancy weight you lose from this will vary woman to woman. However, it is a fact that you burn more calories breastfeeding than not.
Add this to the fact that it’s cheaper than formula, can lower the risk of SIDS and help boost your baby’s immune system and it’s a win-win all around.
Eat healthy but don’t diet
After having a baby, your immediate focus should not be on dieting. In reality, dieting right after having a baby is not only negative for you but can deprive your little one of much needed nutrients. Instead, focus on eating healthy throughout the day, without entirely depriving yourself. Be sure to include plenty of high protein foods along with fruits and vegetables. Especially if you are breastfeeding, your body will need additional calories, not less. Keeping lots of healthy snack options in the house can help to stay on track.
Be sure to have plenty of water as well. This will help prevent dehydration and help you to feel fuller throughout the day. Hydration is also important as you begin to increase your level of physical activity. The recommended amount of water needed per day varies so be sure to consult your doctor if you are unsure.
Get some sleep
I’m sure you are laughing at the mere suggestion of getting more sleep. Obviously, every parent would love to get a few extra hours but it just isn’t always possible. Sleep deprivation is almost a rite of passage as a new mom. But you can still try to sneak some extra sleep in; trust me, your body will thank you for it. As your body becomes exhausted, you are less likely to make healthy eating choices or participate in a physical activity. Replenishing that energy is vital and will improve the way you feel. If possible, take a nap when your baby naps or go to sleep when your baby goes down. It’s highly unlikely you will be able to get 8 uninterrupted hours a night (although, awesome if you do!) but get as much as you can.
Forget the number on the scale
This is easier said than done but can be hugely beneficial. The truth is your body took nine long months to put on weight and it wasn’t because you sat around eating ice cream all day (and if you did, that’s fine too!). Your body was growing and nurturing a baby, whom you have now safely delivered into the world. Remind yourself of this and know that it can take up to a full year for your body to fully recover from pregnancy.
So while you want to feel like your old self again, don’t stress about the numbers on the scale. Instead, focus on how you feel. Spend time taking care of yourself and the rest will fall into place.