Caring for Mom

Get Fit and Feel Good About Your Post-Baby Body

Get Fit and Feel Good About Your Post-Baby Body

Giving birth takes you on an incredible journey, and along the way, your body goes through some dramatic changes. Getting back in shape after having a baby is a top priority for some moms, but it's not just about the numbers on the scale. Your post-baby shape, size and how you feel about your body may be completely new and different.

There's pressure to bounce back and jump right into your skinny jeans - just like those celebrity moms who make it look easy. (Remember, they have a team of fitness and nutrition coaches and other helpers on hand 24/7 to make it happen.) In the real world, losing weight after pregnancy can be a struggle.

Focus on You

When you're busy caring for baby, it's hard to find the time to prepare healthy meals and fit exercise into your day. How to fix it? Set a goal to devote more time and energy (mental and physical) to your health. Here are some tips for taking care of you and your body:

Add movement to your day. Exercise can rev up your metabolism, get your heart pumping and boost your spirits. Check with your doctor before starting a new program and steer clear of strenuous workout routines, especially if you're recovering from a C-section. You want to feel energized, not zapped of energy. Try this:

  • Walking. Pushing baby in the stroller or using a baby carrier or sling is a great workout. The longer and faster you walk, the better.
  • Core exercises. Do crunches while baby is on the floor near you. Each time you sit up, wave, smile or say hi.
  • Kegel exercises. Kegels are performed by squeezing and tightening motions, similar to how you would stop urine flow. They help strengthen the muscles across the pelvic opening.

Eat a balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet is central to healthy weight loss after childbirth. While fad or crash diets may enable you to lose pounds quickly at first, the loss is often only temporary and can be dangerous for your body. Fuel your body with healthy foods including whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Try this: Stock up on ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables. Bananas, apples, pears, berries, carrots and pepper strips are all healthy snacks that require little preparation.

Don't cut calories when breastfeeding. It's especially important to get adequate nutrition while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding moms may need to consume an additional 500 calories a day to get all the necessary nutrients for baby. Losing weight too fast can cause you to produce less milk (check with your doctor about losing weight safely). Try this: Turn those extra calories into extra energy when you choose high-protein snacks such as yogurt, hummus, peanut butter and cheese.

Stay hydrated. Water helps your body flush out fat as you lose weight. Try to limit sodas, juices and other beverages that contain sugar and calories. These empty calories can add up fast and make it hard to lose weight. Try this: Add lemon, lime or fresh mint leaves to your water to add flavor without sugar.

Be kind to yourself. You might be ready to say goodbye to those extra pounds as fast as possible, but your body may not be ready to lose the weight. Or, your body shape may be different. Your clothes may not fit the same as they did before, even after losing weight. Try to set realistic goals for your post-pregnancy body (and go shopping for clothes that make you feel confident)!

If you're struggling to maintain a healthy weight after your pregnancy, your doctor or a dietitian may be able to help you create a weight-loss plan that is realistic and healthy.