Getting back into shape and losing baby weight and attaining a healthy weight after giving birth can be a struggle.
It’s a problem most new mothers face, but finding the time, energy, and motivation to do anything about it in the hectic periods following childbirth can be a difficult thing to do.
This is also a time mothers want to spend focusing on becoming better acquainted with their new child. However, despite the distractions, it’s important to try and lose the baby weight after giving birth.
Carrying around extra fat can cause a number of health problems, including an increased likelihood of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Being overweight will also present a greater risk of complications during future pregnancies.
Even if the motivation and determination are there, women who are trying to lose the baby weight need to be realistic in their ambitions and accept the fact that getting back into shape is likely to take some time.
The results of one study showed the women involved had retained an average of 1–6.6 pounds of their pregnancy weight gain 12 months after giving birth.
Of course, with the correct combination of diet and exercise, it should be possible to achieve superior results, but great care will be needed during the six weeks following childbirth.
The body will still be in a state of recovery and will have increased nutritional needs so crash dieting and strenuous exercise will have to be avoided.
However, there are some steps new mothers can take towards losing some of the baby weight without causing dietary inadequacies or placing undue stress on their bodies that may jeopardize their health.
6 Ways to Safely Lose Baby Weight
1. Choose Breastfeeding Over Bottle Feeding
It takes 20 calories to make an ounce of breast milk. The average woman who is breastfeeding a baby is likely to burn 380—600 calories per day just by feeding her child in this way. Breastfeeding offers other advantages as well. Research shows breastfed children are less susceptible to many diseases including skin problems, lung disease and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
2. Count the Calories
Although any serious reduction in calorie intake would be unwise during the first few weeks following delivery or while breastfeeding on the long-term, keeping track of calories is a good way to monitor eating patterns and make sure the calorie intake does not become too low or overly high.
Research shows losing approximately 0.5kg (1.1lb) per week between 4 and 14 weeks after giving birth can be achieved safely without affecting the health of breastfed children.
Keeping a food journal can be a good way to record daily calorie intake. It can also be useful for identifying nutritional inadequacies.
3. Drink Enough Water
The body needs to be adequately hydrated to retain good health, so it’s important to drink a sufficient amount of water each day.
Water also has a stomach filling effect that can dull the appetite and is good for flushing toxins out of the body. Research suggests drinking a litre of water or more each day may bring about a weight loss of 4.4 pounds in 12 months.
It’s not a lot, but every little helps and it’s a very easy way to lose weight. It’s also important to be aware breastfeeding women need an increased amount of water per day.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a woman normally requires 2.7 liters of water per day but will need to increase this to 3.1 liters per day if she is breastfeeding.
4. Eat High-Fiber Food
High-fiber foods such as oats and bran are good for filling the stomach and can stave off hunger for quite a long time. Foods of this nature also encourage improved intestinal health and may help lower cholesterol.
5. Eat More Protein
Research shows the body burns more calories while digesting protein than it does digesting other nutrients. Protein also aids the healing process, so getting some extra protein after going through the rigors of childbirth is never a bad idea.
Although it would be unwise to hit the gym and begin bouncing around at an aerobics class during the first few weeks after childbirth, light exercise is possible.
Even pushing a stroller around the park a few times or taking the stairs instead of the lift will burn extra calories.
Laying down and raising baby up and down above the chest a few times can be a pleasant substitute for a bench pressing session and will help exercise the muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders.
This kind of face to face activity will be fun for the baby as well.
Presuming a Cesarean section was not needed, and time permitting, most new mothers should be able to start exercising in a more serious way and make a more committed efforts to lose weight six weeks after giving birth, but it never pays to take chances so it’s advisable to get a doctor’s approval first.