Losing baby weight
You've carried your baby for several months. Now that she's here, you couldn't be happier to see her beautiful face. Once the two of you settle into a routine, you'll probably be ready to start losing the weight you gained during pregnancy.
Before beginning your quest to shed extra pounds, remember that the weight you gained during pregnancy was a good thing. It helped give your beautiful new baby the nutrients she needed to grow. Now that she's here, it's perfectly fine to try and get back into shape. With your health provider's OK, you can start light exercises as soon as you feel up to it. Be patient and take things slowly, especially if you're breastfeeding. It can take several months to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
It's no secret that a key part of losing weight is to watch what you eat. This means to make healthy food choices as often as you can. Making healthy food choices is not only important in helping you lose weight, but also for your overall health.
When choosing your meal, focus on the following:
- These foods give you fiber and important vitamins like A, C and folic acid.
- Eating these foods can help you feel full for longer periods of time. You may have fewer cravings for unhealthy snacks.
- Meat, pork, poultry, fish, eggs and beans contain important nutrients like protein and iron.
- Choose lean meats. They have the nutrients your body needs, but without the extra fat.
- When you buy meat, look at the label on the package. It sometimes tells you the percentage of fat. For example, the label says "95% Lean." This means that the meat contains 5 percent fat. Select meats that are low in fat.
- When preparing poultry, remove the skin and trim away visible fat for a healthier meal. Fish like salmon, herring, sardines or fresh-water trout are another good option. These fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important nutrients that your body needs.
- When choosing breads, pasta or rice, try eating products made from whole grains.
- These foods are high in fiber. They also provide essential vitamins like folic acid.
- Whole grains help give your body the energy it needs when it's on the move.
- Milk, yogurt and cheese are all major sources of protein, calcium and vitamins.
- Choose dairy products that are low in fat. In this way, you get the nutritional benefits without the extra fat.
Pass on the junk food
- Chips, cookies, sodas and other junk food contain too many calories with little nutritional benefit.
- If you like to snack between meals, choose healthy treats like fruit.
- It's not only important to know what you eat, but how much to eat. Many restaurants serve meals that are two or three times larger than the amount that should actually be eaten.
- Check out choosemyplate.gov, an online tool from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It can help you plan healthy meals based on your age, weight, height and physical activity. There's also a special section on healthy eating for breastfeeding moms.
- Use healthy cooking methods like steaming, boiling, baking or broiling.
- Avoid frying food as it adds unhealthy fats to the meal.
- Reduce calories when you cook. Lower the amounts of cream, butter and sugar in your recipes, or make low-calorie substitutions. For instance, use skim or 1 percent milk instead of whole milk.
Exercise is a key component of a healthy lifestyle before, during and after pregnancy. After pregnancy, most women can start exercising as soon as they feel ready. Talk to your health provider before beginning your exercise routine.
With regular exercise, you'll start to see healthy results. You'll also have more energy, which will help you keep up with caring for a newborn.
- You may want to start your way back into fitness with a walk.
- Take a brisk walk whenever you can, every day if possible.
- When you feel up to it, move on to more intensive exercises like running or biking.
- Swimming is a great workout.
- Some local fitness and community health centers offer special workouts for new moms.
- Be sure to include aerobic activities. They get your heart rate up.
- Include strength training in your workout routine. It builds your muscles.
- Stretching activities are important, too. They improve your flexibility and movement.
Not only does breastfeeding benefit babies, it's also good for moms. Nursing helps new moms burn more calories. This can help moms return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster than if they fed their babies only formula.
Many of today's Hollywood moms get back to their original figure in record time. When you see how great they look, you may feel pressure to drop the baby weight quickly. But it's not a race to the skinny jeans. Focus on living a healthy lifestyle, and the rest will fall into place.
- Go at your own pace.
- Choose a workout that's right for you.
- Have healthy eating habits.
Last reviewed: December, 2013