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  Pregnancy eMagazine

Losing weight after baby comes

Some women seem to bounce back into shape after giving birth. A week later, they're wearing their favorite jeans again.

But for most women, it takes extra effort and planning to lose the extra weight gained during pregnancy.

"Don't expect to go home from the hospital looking like you did before you were pregnant," says Martha, a tall, slender mother of two. "It took nine months to gain all that weight, and it might take nine months to lose it. That's how long it took me, anyway."

Following the advice below will help you achieve a slow, steady, long-lasting weight loss.

Ease into exercise

The first couple of weeks after the baby is born, take it easy. If you exercised before, it's tempting to try to get back into it sooner rather than later. But you need to rest and heal. Ask your doctor or other health care provider when it's safe for you to exercise again, and what exercises are okay in the first few weeks after giving birth.

Finding time to exercise can be hard. But if you make it a priority, you'll be able to figure out a way that works for you and your family.

  • Little bits of time here and there may be easier to fit in than long sessions.
  • See whether you and your partner can switch off —one of you stays with the baby while the other exercises.

Smooth, easy movements

The hormone relaxin results in looser joints during pregnancy and may cause joints to remain loose for months after birth. So, smooth, easy movements are the way to go.

  • Avoid workouts that require quick, darting movements, like tennis, basketball, etc.
  • Swimming, walking, yoga, t’ai chi and similar types of exercise will be easier on your body.

Challenge yourself

Start working out as soon as your doctor says it's okay for you to get back into a regular exercise routine. Although you should start slowly, be sure to challenge yourself.

  • If your heart rate doesn't increase when you're exercising, chances are you're going too slowly.
  • Perform your activity more quickly than usual, or double the amount of time you usually devote to exercise. (Easier said than done when you have an infant, we realize.)
  • Gradually add strength training to your routine, if you don't already do it.

No fad diets

At this point in your life, you need a healthy, balanced diet, not something that promises quick weight loss by loading up on one kind of food and depriving yourself of other, healthy foods. This is especially important if you are breastfeeding or recovering from a C-section.

Watch your portions

Talk to a nutritionist or other health care provider to find out your calorie requirements now. If you're breastfeeding, you may need to eat more than if you're not nursing.

Once you know how many calories to consume, you can figure out exactly what to eat. A nutritionist can help you plan meals that you'll enjoy.

Remember, calories are in all food, even fat free foods. You already know that potato chips, French fries, fatty meats and other similar foods should be eaten very sparingly. But even the healthy, low-fat food can keep you from losing weight if you eat too much of it.

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Source: Allina Hospitals & Clinics; American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Pediatrics

First published: 09/05/2000
Last updated: 10/14/2007

Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Health Mercy Women's Health Clinic