If you step on the scale several days after you give birth, then you will likely have one of two reactions - disappointment or complete horror – as your weight loss is either not as much as you had hoped, or in some cases, your weight might not have changed much.
Almost all women will want to lose the weight which they have gained over the course of their pregnancy as soon as possible.
How long it takes you to return to your pre-pregnancy weight and shape largely depends on how much weight you gained while pregnant; if you followed a regular exercise program, how healthy you ate and if you breastfeed or not.
If you allow for a 3 month recovery period after giving birth, then you should easily be able to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight within 6-8 months. As a general rule, you should be aiming to lose no more than 2lb a week. It might not sound much, but that adds up to a weight loss of a stone in less than two months.
If you exercised during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, it's generally safe to begin light exercise within days of delivery — or as soon as you feel ready.
If you had a C-section or a complicated birth, talk to your health care provider about when to start an exercise program.
Many new moms find exercise the key to losing the baby weight, and studies support their experience.
A 2007 Harvard University study of new moms found that women who walked 30 minutes each day had a 34 percent lower chance of retaining a significant amount of weight (defined as 11 pounds or more) at their baby’s first birthday. Research also shows that exercise helps new moms preserve muscle mass—and thus appear more toned—than moms who drop weight just by dieting.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when mapping your post-pregnancy weight loss:
- Always check with a medical physician before beginning any fitness program
- Be sure to keep the water flowing. Aim to consume half of your body weight in ounces a day
- Take your time and start off slowly
- Drink at least 10-12 glasses of water every day.
- Keep healthy snacks handy such as raisins, popcorn, wheat crackers, and nuts.
- Eat lean meats such as boneless chicken and the leanest cuts of beef.
- Eat whole grains (breads, cereals, pastas) instead of the "white" versions
- Don't be fooled by foods that are labelled as non-fat. Most are loaded with calories and can have hydrogenated vegetable oils and/or high fructose corn syrup
- Resist the urge to indulge in a fast food meal.
- As soon as you feel ready, start light exercise. Weather-permitting, take a 10 minute walk with the baby every day and slowly increase your time to 20 minutes per day.
- Find easy ways to increase your exercise like parking farther away or using stairs instead of elevators.
- Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories per day so the longer you breastfeed, the more calories you burn.
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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