Carrying a baby for nine months and then delivering it takes its toll on your body. It probably won’t bounce back to its pre-pregnancy form quickly or easily. However, with the right motivation, goals and strategies, every mom can be physically fit and beautiful. Following these tips will help you lose the extra pounds in a healthy way and feel confident about your post-pregnancy body.
Aside from being the healthiest source of nutrition for your baby, breastfeeding will benefit you. In the early postpartum period, breastfeeding releases hormones that shrink your uterus more quickly. It also burns up to 500 calories daily.
You don’t need to go on a crash diet to reach a healthy body weight after pregnancy, but you do need to eat sensibly. It’s important to eat a lot of calcium-rich foods in the postpartum period, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Avoid foods high in saturated fat. Healthy choices include nonfat dairy products, soy-based products, broccoli, kale, beans, nuts, seeds and fish. If you have a hard time maintaining self-control with eating, join a weight-loss program or find an accountability partner. However, be careful not to drop weight too quickly.
You’re more likely to keep weight off if you lose it slow and steadily. Furthermore, if you’re breastfeeding but not taking in enough calories, you could adversely affect your milk supply. To be safe, you should only lose a pound or two per week after the initial loss following childbirth.
Drink water and avoid drinks with sugar and caffeine. Eight cups a day is generally a good target; if you’re breastfeeding, aim for ten. Sufficient hydration helps you lose weight because it curbs your appetite. Sometimes hunger is actually sign that you’re dehydrated. One good strategy for losing weight is to drink water first when you feel hungry so you won’t overeat.
Talk To Doctor About Exercise
Get the go-ahead from your obstetrician before you begin any exercise regimen. Your body needs at least six weeks to heal following childbirth. Be especially cautious about attempting abdominal exercise. If you do too much too soon, you can strain your abdominal muscles and lengthen your postpartum recovery period.
Start With Slow And Consistent Workouts
Even if you’re a world-class athlete, you’ll need to start post-pregnancy workouts slowly so you can build your strength and stamina. Consistency is more important than intensity. Going for a daily walk is an easy way to start and will help you strengthen some of your weak abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Listen to your body and increase your intensity as you grow stronger.
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Mix Up Your Exercise Routine
Once you start working out you may be able to keep up the consistency for a while, but if it is the same routine every day you will probably grow bored. To stay motivated, try different strategies and aim for comprehensive fitness.
You need both strength training and cardio workouts. Take advantage of various classes offered through a gym or invest in a few workout videos. Also vary the scenery—try working out indoors, outdoors, at the gym or at a friend’s house.
Focus On Your Core Muscles
Following pregnancy, the muscles in your midsection will be weak and stretched. Once you have permission from your doctor, focus on exercises that strengthen the whole core. Crunches and sit-ups aren’t sufficient and can be hard on your back. Pilates and yoga routines are beneficial because they’re low-impact and focus on strengthening muscles that are often neglected.
Have A Workout Buddy
Working out consistently with a friend helps you stay motivated and is also a good opportunity to socialize. If you can work out with someone who has a baby the same age as yours, you can work on similar fitness goals and swap motherhood stories.
Take The Baby Along
As a new mom you don’t have much free time, and you probably don’t want to be away from your baby for long periods. Taking your baby with you is a practical way to combine spending time together and improving your health. Suggestions include using a jogging stroller or enrolling in a yoga class for new moms and their babies.
Work Out In Short Increments
You probably don’t have endless hours to devote to fitness. If you feel crunched for time, try exercising in ten-minute increments. For example, take a brisk walk in the morning, do a few yoga sequences during your next ten-minute window and do some light resistance training later in the afternoon.
Be Patient And Realistic
Remember that your body was growing for up to nine months. You may need at least that much time to return to your pre-pregnancy fitness level. Even if you lose all of the pregnancy weight, you may be stuck with some inevitable problems like stretch marks, loose skin and carrying body fat in new places.
If you’ve done everything you can and are healthy overall, don’t be disheartened. If your problem areas bother you, wear clothing that strategically conceals them. You may also need a new perspective. Don’t be ashamed but take pride in your pregnancy battle scars. Your body worked hard to bring a new life into the world.
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