It can be hard to feel the desire or find the time for personal care when struggling to adapt to life postpartum. Many new moms may be so focused on the infant that trying to find the time to exercise seems like a hopeless endeavor. Breastfeeding moms may find dieting difficult, as they need to take in an additional 300 calories a day just to nourish their baby. Learning how to lose the pregnancy weight can be a challenge, but one worth taking on.
Set an Achievable Goal
The first thing new moms should keep in mind when trying to lose weight after pregnancy is that it can take time. Fitness levels, lifestyles and personal metabolisms can make a different time table for everyone. A new mom, who was on bed rest and as a result has a poor fitness level, is going to take longer to get back in shape than a woman who was able to power walk four miles a day until she gave birth.
Take into account how much weight needs to be lost, current fitness levels and how easy or difficult it was to lose weight in the past before setting a timeline to lose the weight. It can be helpful to keep a goal in mind for fitting back into pre-pregnancy pants, but make sure that it’s a goal that can be easily reached, not one that will lead to a sense of failure.
Walk With the Baby
As soon as physically able, begin walking with the baby. If the weather is nice, put the baby in a stroller for a short time each day and get some fresh air and exercise. If the weather is poor, try taking the baby to a mall, museum or other large indoor area. Wearing the baby in a carrier while walking inside public places can be beneficial in these cases as it discourages strangers from touching the baby, adds the baby’s weight to the mom’s, making the walk more strenuous, and avoids the challenge of maneuvering a stroller through crowds.
Try to walk a little more each week, stretching fitness levels gently. Athletically inclined moms can begin running as soon as they are physically able, and all moms and babies can benefit from some fresh air and time spent together outside.
Take a Mommy and Me Yoga Class
Many hospitals offer “Mommy and Me” yoga classes for new moms. Typically recommended to begin at least four to six weeks postpartum, Mommy and Me yoga classes offer gentle stretching and toning for new moms. Babies can be held during the poses, or laid on the mat beside mom, helping to increase bonding while helping mom get started on her postpartum weight loss journey.
The postpartum period is a difficult time of adjustment both for the mind and for the body. Hormone levels are returning to normal, organs are shifting back into place, and the body is trying to figure out how much food it requires now that it’s not nourishing the baby. Trying to cut back too much on calories during this time period can actually cause the body to hang on to the pregnancy weight longer, particularly if breastfeeding. Remember to eat a healthy, well balanced diet to have enough energy to care for the baby and get some exercise.
Stress can cause the body to produce more of the hormone cortisol, which can cause the metabolism to slow down, and the body to retain weight. Don’t get discouraged if the weight is slow to come off. It took nine months to put it on, and it won’t come off over night. Relax, and enjoy the baby, take the time to exercise and discover what the postpartum body is capable of. The weight will come off, but much slower if the new mom is unable to relax.
If a great deal of weight needs to be lost, be sure to speak with a doctor about an appropriate diet and exercise plan. If after a year, the weight is still not budging, it may be time to follow up with a doctor to rule out any other underlying conditions. Remember that a new mother’s body has just spent nine months undergoing many changes and that caring for a newborn will cause it to go through many more. Relax and enjoy the baby; the weight is not as important as this.