New Year’s is a time for reflection on the past year and setting goals for the upcoming year. At the top of most new mom’s list is to get back in shape and lose the baby fat gained in pregnancy.
The best way to bounce back in shape after having a baby is to avoid excessive weight gain in pregnancy to begin with. The adage of “eating for two” while pregnant is simply not true. In pregnancy, your caloric intake should only increase by 340-450 calories/day. You should maintain an exercise regimen while pregnant as well.
Physical exercise during pregnancy is important. It can help with some common discomforts of pregnancy and prepare the body for labor and delivery. Overall, in most cases, exercise is safe and recommended during pregnancy. The aim should be to maintain fitness, not to lose weight. Proper exercise during pregnancy will likely help with weight loss after delivery. It is recommended to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes 3-4 days per week. Exercise does not put you at risk for miscarriage in a normal pregnancy. Always consult with your provider before starting a new exercise routine in pregnancy.
Exercise in pregnancy offers many benefits such as reducing constipation, backaches, bloating, and swelling. It also may help to prevent or treat gestational diabetes, increase energy, improve mood, promote good posture, increase muscle tone, strength, and endurance, and help you to sleep better. Lastly, regular exercise will improve your ability to cope with labor.
If you participated in regular exercise prior to becoming pregnant, it is probably fine to continue to participate during pregnancy. There are many exercises that are safe to do during pregnancy, but it is important not to overdo it. Your baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid inside the uterus, which is surrounded by other organs and muscles.Thus, your baby is nestled in a safe isolated environment. Nevertheless, you should avoid high-impact exercise when pregnant.
Prenatal yoga is a great low impact exercise that can be highly beneficial for pregnant women. Walking is another great exercise. Squatting in labor may help open your pelvic outlet to help your baby descend. Pelvic tilts strengthen the muscles in the abdomen and alleviate back pain during pregnancy and labor. Kegel exercises can help prevent bladder leaks and hemorrhoids. Swimming can help to keep your body toned without adding weight and stress to your joints. If you were a runner prior to pregnancy, you may continue to run during pregnancy. Biking on a stationary bike is also great cardio exercise. Stair climbing, aerobics, and dance are other great ways to raise the heart rate while pregnant.
During the postpartum period, most women lose half of their baby weight by 6 weeks after delivery. The rest most often comes off over the next several months. For many women, achieving a healthy weight after pregnancy can be a struggle. It can be stressful taking care of a newborn, adjusting to a new routine, and recovering from childbirth.
Healthy diet and exercise will help you shed the pounds. Breastfeeding can also help with postpartum weight loss. Other tips for postpartum weight loss include eating foods high in fiber, choosing healthy proteins, avoiding adding sugar and refined carbs, avoiding highly processed foods, and avoiding alcohol.
After delivery, your pelvic and stomach areas need time to heal, especially if you had a cesarean section. You may be able to start gentle pelvic floor exercises right away, whereas you should wait to take on more intense exercises until your body is fully healed and it is medically safe. Cardio such as walking, jogging, running, cycling, and interval training helps you burn calories, improves heart health, and reduces risk of diabetes. Resistance training like weightlifting will help you lose weight and retain muscle mass. Finding time to exercise with a baby can be difficult, but there are gyms that offer classes for mothers and babies, such as Fit4Mom, as well as YouTube videos and mobile apps that can help you out.
Drinking enough water is vital for anyone trying to lose weight. For breastfeeding women, staying hydrated is particularly important to replace fluids lost through milk production. Aim to drink at least 34-68 oz of water per day.
Lastly, make sure to get enough sleep. Mothers who are sleep deprived retain more weight after pregnancy. It can be challenging to get adequate sleep with a new baby at home. Strategies that may help include sleeping when your baby is sleeping and asking for help from family and friends.
Bottom line, carrying some extra weight after pregnancy is very common. Being healthy will allow you to enjoy time with your baby and get the most out of being a new mom.
The best and most achievable way to lose weight is through a health diet, breastfeeding, and exercise.
So, sip a healthy mocktail and cheers to promoting healthy moms everywhere in 2020!