Having a baby is a life-changing and amazing experience. When you hold your little bundle for the first time, you are elated beyond measure.
But shortly after returning home and getting into your daily routine, you realize that your body is not what it used to be. Your body is caught in a state of transition. Do you wear your maternity pants? Do you go out and buy a wardrobe to fit this new body? Or do you simply live in jogging pants until you find the time to focus on your own health?
For the average mother, it takes nearly nine months to take off the baby weight, which makes sense, since it takes nine months to put it on.
“The most important thing to remember is that your body just went through a major change,” according to Scott Hansfield, MD, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with Agnesian HealthCare’s Fond du Lac Regional Clinic in Waupun. “Be positive about what you have gone through, and be realistic about your postpartum weight-loss goals. Taking off one pound per week is best.”
After your postpartum six-week checkup, start slow. The first recommendation for bouncing back is to make time each day, even if it is just for 10 minutes, to exercise. Make sure to discuss limitations with your healthcare provider before beginning any postpartum exercise routine. A short, brisk walk is a good starter. To boost your metabolism and to tone your muscles, include strength training into your daily routine. Studies show that women who work out during and after pregnancy have more energy, less stress and fewer physical concerns than women who don’t.
The next recommendation is to eat right. “For the past several months, your body needed more calories to nurture a healthy baby, but after birth you may need to adjust your caloric intake,” Dr. Hansfield recommends. “If you are nursing, your body will continue to need additional calories each day to support the nutritional needs of the baby. If you aren’t nursing, you will have to pare down what you consume to a level you did before pregnancy.”
Not only must women control how much they eat, they must also focus on what they eat. Calories from lean meats, fruits and vegetables will aid a healthy metabolism, whereas calories from fast food and other high fat foods will delay your return to pre-baby body. In this age of technology, take advantage of the many apps and programs that can help you keep track of your fitness and eating habits. Knowing what you eat and how often you exercise is essential to losing the weight.
Dr. Hansfield encourages women to recruit others to help in their recovery.
“Whether you find someone to watch the little one while you take advantage of some ‘me’ time, or you find a partner to exercise with you, having the support of those around you will help with your recovery,” he says.
Some fitness clubs offer programs that allow you to drop off your children while you work out. Working out with a friend can also make the time spent exercising fly by faster.