Having children is a wonderful and beautiful experience, but it definitely takes a toll on a new mother’s body. Many women struggle to lose excess fat on their body for months or even years after having a baby. Losing weight can be hard in any circumstance, but when a woman is trying to lose weight while also caring for a newborn, it can feel like an unrealistic goal. But never fear; there are some great and effective ways to lose weight even while taking care of a baby. Here are six helpful tips for losing excess fat after childbirth: :
Hands down, the most effective (and often easiest) way to lose the baby weight is to breastfeed. Post-partum moms carry significant extra weight in their tummy areas, but many also carry extra weight in their legs, arms, and faces, too. Doctors regularly extol the virtues of breastfeeding for the baby (i.e. breast milk includes the highest quality nutrients and ingredients, and the woman’s body even adjusts the contents of the milk to meet the baby’s growing and changing needs). But breastfeeding is fantastic for the mother, too. According to the La Leche League International, breastfeeding mothers burn an extra 500-700 calories every day just through the energy their body uses to produce the milk. The milk itself also pulls from the fat stores in the mother’s body, which helps to drain those fatty areas more quickly. Breastfeeding mothers who eat well can expect to lose about one pound each week for the first few months.
Whether or not a mother opts to breastfeed, her diet is of the utmost importance in
losing weight. Obviously, if breastfeeding, her diet affects not only her own nutrition and health but also her newborn’s. But for anyone interested in losing weight, diet is a key factor. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that people who want to lose weight should eat about 1700-1800 calories a day, including a mix of all five food groups. Dieters should eat lots of fruits and veggies as well as lean proteins and whole grains. New mothers should avoid caffeinated or sweetened drinks as well as sugar-rich desserts like cookies and brownies, as they contain loads of empty calories. Empty calories can fill you up without providing nutrients, thus slowing down the weight loss process. It is also important to drink lots of water (about eight glasses per day).
Exercise with other new moms
Exercise is also important for losing weight and maintaining good mental health. New moms may want to join local mommy groups where new moms can also exercise together or can take turns watching each other’s kids get time for exercise. Check out social media sites, local blogs, or even your local hospital for information about joining area mommy groups. The doctors at WebMD recommend several specific exercises for new moms, including Kegels which can help your vaginal area heal faster. Also, exercises as simple as walking, head lifts, and shoulder lifts can help new mothers get their body back to working in the way it did pre-baby.
Exercise with your baby
Since exercise is so vital to a mother’s health and a key component for losing weight, mothers can and should find ways to incorporate their baby into their exercise regimen. Stroller rides around local parks are a great way to spend quality time with the baby while getting necessary exercise, too. The value of walking, especially in the first few weeks post-partum, cannot be overemphasized. Walking works your legs and heart and can be a great way to ease back into exercise after giving birth. Even walking may be hard in the first few days after birth, so ease into it by taking slow strolls. After a few weeks, mothers can work up to power walking or even jogging while pushing the stroller. If you are interested in jogging, you may want to purchase a specially designed jogging stroller.
Join a gym
Ideally, new mothers would also graduate beyond just walking so that they can tone up and maintain overall physical health. Joining a gym can be the best way to ensure that you are working all of your body parts and muscle groups. Many gyms, such as Club Fitness, have in-house trainers that can help new mothers identify weight loss goals and establish a training plan to achieve them. If you aren’t sure that a gym is right for your, most gyms will also let you try it out once before signing up for a membership. Be sure to ask prospective gyms about any on-site daycare options or mommy-and-me classes that they may have if you plan to bring your baby with you.
Give yourself a break
Don’t try to do too much too quickly. Remember that getting your pre-baby body back is a process, so give it time. Your baby is little for only a very short window, so don’t lose out on that precious newborn time because you are in some unnecessary hurry to get your old body back. Having said that, it’s a healthy choice to start getting back in shape as long as you aren’t pushing your body too hard too soon. Also, you need to realistically assess yourself. If you were an elite athlete or gym rat prior to getting pregnant, then you can reasonably plan to work back up to that lifestyle. But if you were largely a couch potato before, don’t expect to be running marathons only 3 months after having a baby. It’s best to set goals for yourself at three levels: easy to achieve goals, stretch goals, and dream goals.
The good news is that many mothers do bounce back soon after pregnancy and are able to get back to their pre-baby weight. But for most women, that doesn’t happen without some planning and effort. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise plan, especially if you have any health concerns about either yourself or your baby. A combination of breastfeeding, diet, exercise, support from friends, and a realistic set of goals will set new mothers on a terrific and healthy path to weight loss.
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