Pregnancy brings with it the joy of bringing a life to this world.
But once the baby is born and everyday life begins to regain somewhat of a routine, most new moms start to look for ways to drop the pounds that they gained during pregnancy.
Most moms don’t reach their pre-pregnancy weight until one year after delivery. Dropping those extra pounds takes time, as most of your time is devoted to taking care of your new baby. While you cannot ignore your parental responsibilities, it’s also important to take care of your body.
When trying to lose some of the baby weight, don’t be hard on yourself. Just focus on a healthy lifestyle and take one day at a time.
With patience and dedication, you can easily find your waistline again without sacrificing the special bond between you and your baby.
Here are the top 10 tips to lose weight post-pregnancy.
To lose the baby weight, opt for breastfeeding, which is also extremely beneficial for your newborn baby.
Along with fat accumulating during pregnancy, many moms experience an increase in insulin resistance as well as lipid and triglyceride levels. Lactation plays a key role in reversing these changes, thus “resetting” your metabolism after pregnancy.
This means that breastfeeding helps burn up extra calories, which in turn reduces stored fat and helps drop the extra pounds.
A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that breastfeeding can help lose extra pounds six months after delivery in women who gained a reasonable amount of weight during pregnancy.
Another study published in 2009 in the American Journal of Perinatology hypothesizes that lactation plays an important role in “resetting” maternal metabolism after pregnancy.
2. Take Walks
Doing heavy exercise soon after delivery is not recommended for new moms. But if you wish to include exercise in your routine, walking is just the right choice.
Walking will not only help with post-pregnancy weight loss, it will even improve your cardiovascular health, boost your energy and mood, and help relieve stress as well as combat the baby blues.
A 2008 study published in MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing found that new mothers perceive walking to be a good form of exercise. Scheduling a daily walk and having a walking partner were factors that women said would facilitate walking for physical activity during the first year after childbirth.
Try and walk as much as you can, and you can do it along with your little one, too. For instance, you can walk with the newborn in the garden or take the baby for a stroll in the park. You can even enjoy a short walk while putting your baby to sleep in your arms as you walk around the house.
Along with walking, try doing light exercises at home.
3. Exercise for 30 Minutes Daily
Two to three months after delivery, your body is ready for some tough exercises. In fact, regular physical exercise is one of the most effective ways to get rid of baby weight.
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Obesity reports that exercise plus an intensive diet and objective targets are the most effective strategies for weight loss in postpartum women.
Focus on easy and basic exercises to start with. This way you will not feel too tired or hurt yourself in the process. Some basic exercises suitable for new moms are jogging, running, swimming, aerobics, biking and hiking.
You can also do light weight training to gain muscle strength and speed up your metabolism. Plus, you can take a post-pregnancy yoga class to improve your muscle tone.
4. Stay Hydrated
When trying to lose weight, one rule that everyone should follow is keeping the body hydrated by drinking an ample amount of water.
Water induces body thermogenesis that helps increase your metabolism and aid in burning calories.
A 2010 study by the American Chemical Society reports that just two 8-ounce glasses of water taken before meals enables people to shed pounds.
Further, in a 2010 study published in Nutrition Reviews, experts collected relevant clinical trials, epidemiologic and intervention studies. In summarizing the findings across the literature, they suggested that water has an important role in reducing energy intake and preventing obesity.
Make sure you drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water throughout the day.
However, different people have different water needs depending upon their size, genetic makeup, activity levels and the weather. To make sure you are drinking enough water, have a look in the toilet bowl when you have passed urine. It should be clear or at least a light straw color.
5. Manage Stress
Motherhood brings lots of responsibilities, and taking care of a newborn baby is not a joking matter. It is common for new mothers to become overwhelmed and stressed.
But if you are trying to lose your baby weight, it’s important to keep stress under control as it can adversely affect your weight loss goal.
Stress leads to an increase in the amount of cortisol in your blood, a hormone that can make it harder for you to lose weight. When cortisol as well as adrenaline hormones increase in response to frequent emotional demands, they build up and cause symptoms like fatigue, listlessness, irritability and weight retention or gain.
On top of that, stress can make you crave fatty, sweet, salty and crunchy foods, which obviously work against weight loss.
To manage stress, ask your partner to take care of your baby while you enjoy some ‘me’ time. Do whatever relaxes you, such as meditation, deep breathing, listening to music or just going for a walk, so that you are less stressed out. This is the best way to lose weight after childbirth.
6. Eat Healthy
If you are breastfeeding, it is important to follow a diet rich in nutrients to help you remain healthy and also aid in producing enough milk for your baby.
A good diet will help you get back to your original shape and size. In fact, eating unhealthy food is one of the key reasons behind excess weight gain during pregnancy.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health reports that eating less healthy foods and being less physically active puts overweight and obese women at risk of gaining more weight after a pregnancy.
Instead of eating fast foods that will neither nourish you nor promote satiety, opt for foods rich in fiber that will keep you healthy and feel fuller for a longer time. Also, eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and protein. Whole grains, fish, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables are all that your body needs.
Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels steady and help prevent you from overeating. This way you can eat calorie-rich foods that are essential for breast milk production. When your calorie intake is distributed throughout the day, they will be metabolized more efficiently and are less likely to be stored as fat.
Avoid foods that are high in empty calories like sodas and chips.
7. Eat Oats for Breakfast
For losing weight, skipping breakfast is not recommended and especially lactating mothers should not do this. Skipping breakfast can affect milk supply, which can hamper your baby’s growth.
Along with eating breakfast daily, it’s important to eat a healthy one, such as oatmeal.
Oatmeal’s major weight loss benefit comes from its fiber content, which helps keep you full longer and does not lead to a spike in blood sugar. In fact, some of this fiber comes from soluble fiber that helps fight belly fat.
Another plus point of oatmeal is that it helps nursing mothers increase the quantity as well as quality of their breast milk.
Moreover, it helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia, which is common in new moms.
A warm bowl of oatmeal is just the right meal to start your day. However, avoid fatty and sugary add-ins. Instead, top your oatmeal with a spoonful of raw honey, cardamom, chopped nuts, berries or saffron to improve its nutritional profile as well as taste.
Note: Quick oats and steel-cut oats are healthy choices, but avoid prepackaged instant oatmeal.
8. Get Your Sleep
Getting a full night’s sleep is simply impossible for new mothers, but there are ways to avoid being sleep deprived.
Sleep is important to fulfill your weight loss goal. Not getting enough sleep can adversely affect your metabolism and slow down your weight loss process.
Remember that if you don’t sleep enough, you won’t have enough energy for satisfying workouts, which are key to managing stress as well as weight loss. Stress leads to an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can promote weight gain around your belly.
Sleep deprivation can also cause fluctuations in the key hunger hormones, leptin (a hunger-inhibiting hormone) and ghrelin (a hunger-inducing hormone).
With a little planning, you can sneak in a good amount of sleep. For instance, you can:
- Sleep when your baby sleeps and forget about household chores.
- Don’t ‘bed share’ during sleep.
- Split up nighttime duties with your partner.
- Try to assign housework to other members.
- Accept help from friends and family members.
9. Watch Your Snacks
As a new mother who is breastfeeding, having frequent hunger pangs is normal. But to satisfy these hunger pangs, do not reach out for unhealthy snacks. This will make it difficult for you to lose weight and can even lead to weight gain.
So, instead of reaching for a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, choose healthy as well as filling options.
Some healthy options include fresh fruits, carrot sticks, granola bars, dry-roasted nuts, air-popped popcorn, baked kale chips, celery stalks with hummus, wheat crackers, low-fat cheese and yogurt. All these snacks are all relatively easy to prepare but will leave you satisfied for hours.
Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked with nutritious foods so you don’t reach for something unhealthy.
10. Consider a Belly Wrap
Postpartum abdominal wraps have been used for ages. Such wraps help reduce the weight that you gain when you are pregnant, which mainly consists of uterine tissue and muscle, abdominal muscle and fat, and fat in general.
The gentle compression on the abs from wearing the wrap helps the uterus return to its normal size quicker. This helps new moms get rid of their still-pregnant-looking-belly faster.
These wraps even help new moms suffering from back pain because they increase abdominal support. They also help correct posture in women recovering from a vaginal delivery or a C-section.
However, just wearing an abdominal wrap will not do the trick, if you do not exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet.