A healthy pregnancy almost always involves weight gain. But now that
baby's here, you're probably wishing those extra pounds would hurry up
and disappear! While it won't happen overnight, these six simple tips
can help you lose that extra weight in a healthy way. (If you're looking
for parts 2 and 3 of this article, you can find them both at http://
1) Try to relax and don't be in too much of a hurry to lose your extra
pregnancy weight. Remember, it took 9 months for you to put it on, and
you should give yourself at least half that amount of time to take it back
off. In fact, eight to 12 months is not an unreasonable amount of time to
give yourself. And even if it does take a year to get back to your pre-
pregnancy size and shape, those pounds are all the more likely to stay
off because you've lost them gradually.
You definitely should not be thinking about weight loss at all in the early
post-partum weeks. Your body needs this time to recover from giving
birth, readjust to its pre-pregnancy state, and establish a milk supply for
your baby. Besides, most new moms find that a fair amount of weight
tends to melt off all by itself in these first few weeks as excess fluids
retained in late pregnancy are gradually shed.
Remember that gradual weight loss based on sensible nutrition and
enjoyable physical activity is the best path to permanent weight loss.
This applies whether or not weight gain is due to pregnancy, but when
you are dealing with all the changes and adjustments that come with
having a new baby, it's all the more important to take a slow and steady
approach so you don't add to your stress level.
And speaking of stress, recent research shows that when you're
stressed, your body releases hormones that can contribute to weight
gain. So try not to add to your stress level at this time by putting
unreasonable pressure on yourself to lose that extra weight too fast.
Instead, take a long term approach and be sure to incorporate some
kind of relaxation into your day, whether it's having a nap, a warm bath,
or receiving a relaxing back massage.
2) Eat well and nourish yourself with healthy foods so you'll have the
energy you need to care for yourself and your baby. If you restrict your
calories you'll probably get tired, cranky, and lose energy, making you
less apt to exercise and less able to take good care of your baby.
Cutting back too much on your caloric intake can also sabotage your
weight loss efforts by forcing your body into "starvation mode." When
your body isn't getting enough fuel, it becomes much more efficient at
using what you do give it, so that over time you will actually gain weight
rather than lose it. You are much better off to eat well and get regular,
moderate exercise to help shed those extra pounds.
Remember though, that there is a big difference between eating and
eating well! If you eat nourishing foods you will probably feel full sooner
and you will likely need fewer calories than if you eat "empty calorie"
foods like white bread and french fries. Eat a variety of healthy foods,
including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and make sure you are
getting a proper balance of the major nutrients (protein, carbohydrate
and healthy fats). You may want to talk to your doctor or midwife about
continuing to take your pre-natal multivitamin, or other supplements, at
least during the immediate post-partum period.
Snacking is something you'll probably want to do a lot of, either because
you may not always have time to prepare a meal, or because the
demands of caring for a new baby mean you get hungry more often.
Here are a few ideas for good, nutrient-dense choices for snack foods:
? apple slices spread with low fat cream cheese and sprinkled with
? yogurt with chopped fresh fruit and nuts
? whole grain toast with nut butter
? cheese with whole grain crackers or rice cakes
? tomato or mixed vegetable juice with a hard boiled egg
On the other hand, try not to overdo it. Being pregnant or nursing a baby
is not a license to indulge in a non-stop buffet of foods, even if they are
nutritious! Eat when you are hungry, make healthy food choices most of
the time, and remember that your baby is counting on you to choose
wisely if you're breastfeeding, so make those calories count nutrient-
In part two of this article, you'll learn why drinking plenty of pure water is
important to weight loss in general, and to post-partum weight loss in
particular. You'll also find out how many calories a day you'll use by
breastfeeding your baby. Part three will teach you how you can burn
extra calories easily and enjoyably without huffing and puffing at the
gym. You'll also learn the secret that savvy new moms use to
effortlessly burn up to an extra 200 calories a day -that's 2 pounds a
month with no extra effort!
Susan Peach is a retired La Leche League Leader, a dance and fitness
instructor, and mother to two teenage boys. She is also the creator of
Mambo Moms, a fun and gentle Latin dance based fitness program that
helps new moms get back in shape while spending quality play time
with their babies. Find out more at http://www.mambomoms.com