A new baby brings a unique range of emotions for each woman. But it seems all women are anxious to lose that excess baby weight after pregnancy.
And that’s a good idea. If you don’t lose those extra pounds, they may cause problems later, such as obesity, especially if you have other children.
When to Start?
I tell breastfeeding moms to wait two months before trying to lose weight. If you’re not breastfeeding, six weeks is probably OK.
If you had a vaginal delivery, it’s usually safe to start a little exercise a few days later. But after a cesarean-section or complicated birth, it may be four to six weeks.
Talk to your doctor before starting to lose weight or exercise.
How Long Should it Take?
You didn’t gain the weight overnight and you’ll need to be patient about taking it off. Losing a pound or pound-and-a-half a week is probably realistic.
If you started at a normal weight and gained about 25 to 35 pounds, you can lose the weight in three to six months if you exercise and eat carefully. If you were overweight before pregnancy or gained more, losing the baby weight will take longer, maybe a year.
How to Do it?
Not surprisingly, the rules for losing weight after giving birth are similar to those at any time.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Don’t try a crash diet.
- Don’t eat fewer than 1,800 calories, 2,000 to 2,500 if you’re breastfeeding.
- Eat foods that are high in nutrients but low in calories and fat, such as fish, milk, yogurt.
- Drink lots of water.
- Get some type of exercise every day – even if it’s a walk with your baby in a stroller.
- Sleep as much as you can, including grabbing naps when the baby does.
- Keep junk food, sweets, fats and fried foods to a minimum.
Breastfeeding and losing weight
Mother’s milk is the best food for babies, and nursing helps burn calories. But if you’re breastfeeding, you need to lose weight extra slowly.
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid site has a helpful fact sheet for breastfeeding moms.
Did you have trouble losing weight after pregnancy? Do you have any tips for others?
Dr. Jagjit Khairah is a board-certified Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist who provides complete maternity care and delivery, including prenatal counseling. He cares for his patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Fort Bend Medical and Diagnostic Center, where he performs minimally invasive laparoscopic/hysteroscopic procedures. He’s also trained in robotic surgery utilizing the da Vinci® System.