By: Hindy Cortright for The BioFit Center and Health and Fitness magazine.
Having a baby is one of the most life fulfilling experiences any woman can wish to have but, even though, pregnancy, childbirth and post partum vary per individual one thing is common among all women. Every woman will gain some weight during this natural process.
The average woman will gain approximately 35 pounds during the 9 month gestation period, given that she follows a balanced and healthy diet during this time. Typically 12 to 14 pounds of these 35 are lost at the moment of childbirth, leaving the average woman to lose 21 pounds of additional weight. In most cases approximately 5 of these 21 pounds are quickly shed in the first 4 weeks post partum because they are mainly “water weight”. Leaving an average of 15 pounds to work on.
Here are a number of tips and recommendations to lose those additional baby pounds we do not want to carry around along with our new baby:
1. Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not only extremely important for your baby’s health and well-being but also for yours. The process of breastfeeding helps the body to recuperate from childbirth. It also helps to re-organize the levels of certain key hormones which play an important role in the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel. It is estimated that breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories per day so the more you breastfeed the more calories you burn.
2. Drink at least 10 glasses of water a day. Replace fruit juice and sodas for water. This will help your body to detox and cleanse faster.
3. Keep healthy snacks handy. Your life as a new Mom will be hectic. The best way to follow a healthy diet is to make sure you have enough lean and protein rich snacks at hand to avoid eating fast foods while on the go. Try to always carry some fruit or almonds or low sugar protein bars with you. Try to eat a snack every three hours.
4. Eat lean meats, whole grains and veggies . Your diet, after childbirth, needs to be balanced, specially if you are breastfeeding. Try to eat lean meat or chicken or fish twice a day. Avoid all white and processed carbohydrates and instead eat whole grain bread, brown rice or whole grain pasta. Make sure to keep your portions reasonable. No more than 8 ounces of meat or chicken or fish and no more than one cup of any grain. Add a small salad to your lunch and dinner. Vegetables are crucial in the cleansing and detoxing process.
5. Exercise. As soon as you feel ready and fully recuperated from childbirth join a gym or hire a personal trainer. It is very important to find at least one hour a day to work on getting healthy and fit again. Start with low impact activities and work yourself slowly back to your pre-pregnancy exercise intensity. You should wait at least three months, after giving birth, to start doing any type of resistance training exercise. This is recommended so that you do not strain muscles that are healing and that could develop scar tissue if put under stress before the entire healing process has concluded. Biking, walking or doing the elliptical for one hour or so will help you to get back on track and start losing weight. Moderation is the key during the first three months after going back to the gym.
Getting back in shape after having a baby is a complex process and you need to be kind to yourself. Understand that in order for the miracle of life to happen, your body had to undergo many hormonal changes that now will need some time to balance out again. It takes an average of 8 months to reach pre-pregnancy weight and fitness levels so we recommend that you set small weekly goals, which you remain consistent, that you focus in eating healthy, low fat balanced meals but most of all, that you focus on the most important things: Your baby and your well-being!
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