How to Lose Baby Weight

Safe Ways to Shed the Baby Weight

Baby is out and you’re ready to get back to your pre-pregnancy body and skinny jeans--but not so fast. Many new moms are surprised that you don’t just magically go back to your pre-baby weight as soon as you have your baby. Remember, it took nine months to put that weight on, and it could take six to 12 months to shed those extra pounds. With careful eating and exercising, though, you can lose your baby weight.

Body Changes

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You saw your belly grow all through pregnancy, but there were a number of changes you couldn’t see.

Your uterus grows from the size of an orange pre-pregnancy to the size of a watermelon by the end of your third trimester. Once you've given birth, it takes about six weeks for the uterus to return to its normal size. By this time, most women have lost half their baby weight.

Your core, which includes your ab, back and pelvic muscles, also changes drastically during pregnancy. After you have your baby, those muscles are thin, weak and stretched. It takes some work to get them in shape again.

Your joints are also weak after birth because of a hormone called relaxin. This hormone makes your joints loose, which is beneficial when you’re trying to push a baby out, but it makes your joints more prone to injury after birth for at least several weeks.

Losing the Weight

The average recommended weight gain for a mom with a normal body mass index is 25 to 35 pounds. This varies between women depending on their weight before pregnancy. If you were underweight, your doctor may have recommended you gain more weight. If you were overweight, he may have recommended gaining fewer pounds.

Regardless of how much you gained, you don’t want to lose more than 1 1/2 pounds a week. You may lose more than this in the first few weeks after birth as your uterus returns to normal size, but once you begin watching what you eat and exercising, keep it to around 1 1/2 pounds or less.

Eating Healthy

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While cutting major calories might seems like a quick fix to lose weight, it’s definitely not a safe solution, especially for nursing moms. Pregnancy takes a toll on your body and whether you’re breastfeeding or not, your body needs to replenish nutrients it used during pregnancy.

If you’re nursing, you should eat between 1,800 and 2,000 calories a day. If you go much lower than this, it’s not only bad for you, but may also affect your milk supply.

You can cut your calories a bit more if you’re giving formula, but still make sure you’re not losing more than a pound and a half a week.

Rather than diet, choose to eat well. This can be a bit tricky when your day is consumed by feeding, changing and holding a baby, but following a healthy diet makes you a happier mom.

Try to eat three to four smaller meals with snacks in between instead of three large meals. Eat superfoods, which are foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories and fat. Salmon, canned light tuna, light milk or yogurt, lean meat, chicken and beans are all superfoods. Choose healthy snacks such as apple slices or carrot sticks or other raw vegetables. It can be hard to find time for yourself with a new little one, but you can grab many snacks on the go.

Drink plenty of water every day. This keeps you from getting dehydrated and also helps you feel more full. Rather than set an amount of water to drink each day, look at your urine. If you’re drinking enough water, it should be relatively clear.

Exercising

Exercising once you have a baby doesn’t even require you to go to the gym. A quick walk around the block with your baby in the stroller or a carrier is a good way to start. You burn calories and get extra time with your new addition.

Add in some strength training to build muscle once your doctor gives you the go-ahead. Muscle burns calories more quickly than fat. Use light weights or even soup cans to do strength training. Start slow and as you feel comfortable, add in more intense exercises. Of course, you already have a head start on building muscle lugging your little one from place to place.

Many cities and gyms have mommy-and-me classes or groups where you work out with your little one by your side or even do workouts with your stroller. These classes allow you to get out of the house, spend time with your baby and make new friends.

Exercise has the added benefits of helping with depression, trouble sleeping and relieving stress, all issues familiar to many new moms.

When to Start

It’s important to check with your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise routine after your baby is born. As long as you had a regular delivery and normal pregnancy, your doctor will probably give you the okay to start around six to eight weeks after delivery.

If you’re breastfeeding, wait until your baby is at least 2 months old. This gives your milk supply a chance to stabilize.

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