Now that your new baby is here, you have a lot to think about: when to feed her, what to do if she cries — and how to get rid of those extra pounds you packed on during your pregnancy.
If you started out at a normal weight and gained the 25-35 pounds your doctor probably recommended, it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of months to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight if you watch what you eat and exercise.
If, on the other hand, you were overweight before your pregnancy or you put on more weight than your doctor advised, it could take much longer — up to a year — to get the weight off. Any baby weight you don’t take off could stick with you for a long time.
Here are some tips to help you lose weight after pregnancy and fit back into your old jeans — whatever their size.
1. Move It, Mama
Start exercising now. Decades ago, doctors liked to keep women physically restricted after delivery — no more. Short 10- to 20-minute relaxed strolls once you’re home from the hospital — even for Cesarean-section moms who aren’t on painkillers — are good for you. For more formal workouts, doctors recommend waiting six weeks. Exercise is a tried-and-true stress-buster. Getting some type of exercise will help you feel alive again. You’ll lower your risk for both postpartum depression and obesity.
2. Eat Smart
Believe it or not, you’re still eating for two. Even if you’re not nursing, you need energy to care for your baby and yourself. Plus, you probably already know that what a breastfeeding mom eats can affect her baby’s food preferences (eat broccoli and baby is more likely to enjoy it too), but a new study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that when mom ate healthful fare she became a better role model for her children, who were less fussy and picky at mealtime and showed more interest in eating. Eat smart by choosing foods packed with nutrients like filling produce, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.
3. Free Your Mind
Simply put, you’re probably stressed, and it sucks. Here’s why: When you’re worried or feel like you have no control over what’s happening in your life, your body reacts by releasing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. When you’re in physical danger, these hormones give you the strength to run from enemies. But if the stress is in response to frequent emotional demands, as is the case with new moms, these hormones build up and cause fatigue, listlessness, irritability and weight retention or gain. High levels of cortisol make you crave fatty, sweet, salty, crunchy foods. We know your free time is fleeting, but try a few of these stress-busters and you just might find you have more energy to care for your baby and feel better emotionally. You might even shed some pounds.