Weight gain during pregnancy and how to lose weight after a baby continue to be hot topics for our blog readers. We asked Micky Morrison of Baby Weight Fitness, a licensed physical therapist, to comment on these important issues.
Weight gain is not only inevitable, it’s a necessary part of a healthy pregnancy. You should gain between 20 and 35 pounds if you were in a normal weight range when becoming pregnant. If you are overweight when you conceive, you still need to gain at least 15 pounds in order to grow a healthy baby. If you wonder why, consider the distribution of your baby weight: Baby: 7-8 pounds, Placenta: 1.5-2 pounds, Uterus: 2 pounds, Amniotic Fluid: 1.5- 2 pounds, Extra Maternal Blood: 3-4 pounds, Additional Breast Tissue: 1.5-2 pounds.
These are just the essentials, weighing in at over 16 pounds, and do not include the average 4 pounds of retained fluids and recommended 7 pounds of fat stores needed for the demands of breastfeeding that bring the total up to nearly 30 pounds. So don’t panic when you have 15-20 pounds to lose after baby comes. But the question remains — what’s the best way how to lose weight after a baby. The “water weight” of retained fluids usually disappears on its own in the first week to 10 days. The uterus shrinks back down to its original size and your body processes all the extra blood in your system so that blood volumes return to normal in the first six weeks. So without counting calories or a single workout, you normally lose 8-10 pounds in the first six weeks, combined with the 8-10 pounds of true “baby weight” at birth, leaving you with 10-15 pounds that you actually have to work at taking off.
You can take those pregnancy pounds off quickly and safely by making a few simple lifestyle choices, small changes that make a big difference. If you are able to breastfeed, you are at a big advantage because nursing a newborn requires 500 calories of energy from your body daily. That’s as many calories as you burn in 2 hours walking at a brisk pace! Due to those demands, it’s important not to restrict caloric intake drastically while nursing or your milk supply might suffer. But you can certainly use the breastfeeding calorie burning to your advantage by creating a small deficit in order to lose weight. If you are not breastfeeding, you will need to be a little more calorie-conscious. In either case, the quality of the calories is as important as the quantity.
Follow these tips for adopting a healthy diet and for how to lose weight after a baby:
1. Be Carb Conscious- Limit intake of simple sugars, which includes sweets, white bread, rice, and pasta, and potatoes. Choose the whole-grain options instead, and only 3-4 servings per day at that.
2. Power up with Protein- Make lean protein part of every meal, including at least 3 servings of 4-6 ounces each daily. Good choices are fish, chicken, lean pork and beef. Vegetarian options include tofu, tempeh, greek yogurt, and eggs. Trim excess fat off all meats when cooking, and avoid marbled beef and anything fried.
3. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies- Eat 5-6 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. Fresh is best, but if you don’t have that option, frozen is fine. These natural foods should be the backbone of your diet to give you the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need.
Apply the above principles to your snack choices as well so as not to sabotage healthy meals with fattening snacks in between.
Need proof that it can be done? Check out this amazing “before and after” photo from a For Two Fitness customer and fitness professional, Amanda Tress. Amanda dropped the baby weight quickly after her second pregnancy.
Combine a healthy diet with regular exercise and you will see the pounds melt away while you gain strength and muscle tone. Incorporate 30 minutes of cardio exercise 3 time a week with strengthening and toning exercises 3 times per week to make exercise a part of your daily routine. You may have just thought to yourself: “Yeah right, who has time for that?” Good news: You do! You don’t have to leave your baby to make exercise part of your life. Put your baby in a front carrier or stroller and walk briskly around the block. Invite a friend to make it a social time as well. Swim or join a water aerobics class with your baby in a floatie. Or try a low impact cardio routine with your baby in a front carrier. Strengthen and tone the muscles weakened the most during pregnancy with a CoreMama-and-Me class on BabyWeight.TV that incorporates your baby’s weight into the exercises, making the exercises fun playtime for you both.
Micky Marie Morrison is a licensed physical therapist with 15 years experience in women’s health and pediatrics. As an International Childbirth Education Association certified perinatal fitness educator and mother of two, Micky began developing a progressive and intense prenatal and postpartum exercise program, first to meet her own needs, and later to meet those of her clients. CoreMama™ was born. You can follow Micky on twitter to learn more about her innovative fitness book and streaming videos.
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