There is nothing quite as embarrassing as being asked, “So when are you due?” when you had a baby three months ago. Pregnant women are beautiful – postpartum flab, not so much.
But how do you fit weight loss into your schedule when you are adjusting to life with a newborn, and have hardly any time to yourself? You can get your pre-pregnancy body back relatively soon after giving birth, and we have tips on how to make it happen.
An Active and Healthy Pregnancy
Shedding postpartum pounds begins during pregnancy. You will not have to lose weight that you do not gain. Sorry for being Captain Obvious here, but it’s true. Of course, pregnancy is not the right time to go on a weight loss diet, or to restrict calories. But by making sure that the calories you consume are of high quality by eating whole foods that are nutritionally rich, you look after your baby’s health and save yourself lots of work after giving birth.
Prenatal exercise will keep you fit throughout your nine months, and might set you up for an easier delivery. Childbirth is not unlike running a marathon, and building up stamina will always be beneficial. Being physically active and getting lots of fresh air also helps many expectant mothers fight pregnancy signs and symptoms like morning sickness, back pain, and fatigue.
Not only does breastfeeding provide the best nutrition for your baby, it also burns calories. Breastfeeding your baby exclusively and on demand helps you deplete those “fat stores” that accumulated on your tummy during pregnancy. Nursing a baby is nature’s ultimate multi-tasking exercise – what could be better than feeding your baby, getting some quiet bonding time, and losing weight; all at once?
Go for Walks
Showing your baby around town is a great way to get in some exercise. Whether you choose to push your baby in a stroller or carry her in a baby carrier, vigorous walking for at least half an hour a day will not only encourage weight loss, but also tone your muscles. And at the same time, you will boost your baby’s Vitamin D levels with all that exposure to the sun. And walking never has to get boring – take your baby to the park one day, to the woods the next, and show her the local shops another day.
Five-Minute Exercise Sessions
If your newborn is anything like mine, you will rarely catch more than five minutes of peace. You might be breastfeeding, have a baby napping on your lap, or changing diapers for most of the day, but you will probably have five-minute stretches where your baby will nap in his crib, or be in daddy’s arms. Those five-minute sessions can add up quite a lot, and you can utilize them by doing some exercise. Whether you choose pilates, ab crunches, or house work (yes, that counts as exercise!), it will all contribute.
It is a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider before doing abdominal crunches or anything similar however, because doing them too early can result in diastasis recti, the separation of the abdominal muscles. After during pregnancy, the abdominal muscles will naturally move apart to accommodate your growing baby, and it is important to give them time to recover before engaging in vigorous exercises that involve these muscles.
Your pelvic floor muscles may not be visible, and you may never have thought about them before you started your journey towards motherhood and picked out an ovulation calendar… but boy, are they important! Doing Kegel exercises regularly will improve postpartum bladder control and improve your sex life. One of the major advantages of these little invisible exercises is that you can do that at any time, in any place, without anyone ever noticing.
Kegel exercises are ideally suited to those times your baby just will not go to sleep at night, while you are waiting in a queue somewhere, or for when you are traveling. The more repetitions you do, the stronger your pelvic muscles will become.
Growing up in the Netherlands, I might be a little biased towards bicycles. Over there, everyone uses them as a form of transport, and babies ride along in bicycle seats from as soon as they are able to sit up. Cycling is actually a great calorie burner, and it is great for those lower-body muscles that might have weakened while you are expecting.
This is a guest post by Tania. The team at Trying-To- Conceive.com is passionate about women's health. On their blog, you will find a wealth of information about fertility, pregnancy, and babies. Join other women just like you on their new discussion board.