Body After Baby

Attention, ladies! There’s a surefire way to lose about 10 lbs…in one day! Of course, you need to first gain about 25-35 pounds, and how you lose that extra weight is a heck of a lot harder.

Yes, I’m talking about pregnancy. For a women at a normal weight, she can expect to gain about 25-35 lbs over the course of the 9 months. Underweight women need to gain more, and overweight women need less. Obese women might not need to gain any weight at all, according to the latest recommendations. Steady, moderate weight gain is good for both mom and baby, helping to prevent low birthweight (less than 5.5 lbs at birth) and high birthweight (greater than 9 lbs at birth).

Steady, moderate weight gain can also help women more quickly bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight. For greatest success, follow a healthy diet and eating plan, and get some physicial activity, before the baby is born – ideally before you even become pregnant. But for those who find themselves weeks or months post-partum, struggling to lose the weight, all is not lost. Here a few tips and hints:

1. You are NOT eating for two.

Sure, when you’re pregnant a single body is carrying two beings, with two heartbeats, two digestive systems and so on. But a 130-pound woman does not deliver a 130-pound baby (can you even IMAGINE??), so strike from your mind any notion about eating for two. It’s more like eating for 1.2.

As I said before, most women can expect to gain about 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, and deliver on average a 7.5-lb. baby. So what about that extra weight? That’s placenta, amniotic fluid, extra blood vessels and several other ways your body grows and adapts to accomodate the being growing inside of you. Any weight accounted by the baby and placenta will automatically be lost at birth, but the other weight takes time to lose.

So even though you need to take in extra calories during pregnancy, the actual calorie amount needed is about 100-300 per day. If you’re breastfeeding, your calorie needs actually increase to about 500 extra per day. Continue to make those calories count by eating nutritious foods, having an extra snack or two, or using more calorie-dense oils and fatty/healthy foods such as avocadoes, fatty fish (no more than twice/week, and avoiding high-mercury fish), nuts and olives.

2. Drink up!

Staying hydrated during pregnancy helps prevent Braxton-Hicks contractions (those false-labor contractions). If you’re nursing, you tend to get very, very thirsty. Also thirst may mask itself as hunger, so before you reach for another bite, try drinking something first. Water is always a good option, but it can get boring after a while. Try mixing it up by serving it ice-cold, or adding a slice or two of fruit or veggies: lemon, lime, orange, cucumber – even some watermelon or frozen berries. Your calcium needs increase during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so you might even reach for a glass of lowfat or fat-free milk. Other good, low-calorie options are unsweetened iced tea (careful how much caffeine you’re getting), seltzer water, 100% fruit juice (try diluting with water, since a little goes a long way), even Gatorade or flavored bottled water. Of course, avoid alcohol during pregnancy and limit it when you’re nursing – try to time it until after the baby eats, and wait about an hour or more before breastfeeding again. Remember, alcohol can be dehydrating, so drink some extra water as well.

Fruits and vegetables also provide lots of water in addition to vitamins and nutrients, so don’t be afraid to load up on things like lettuce, celery, watermelon, oranges, and berries.

3. Get moving!

Gone are the days in which pregnant women need to stay off their feet and “endure” pregnancy. Research shows that being active during pregnancy can help keep weight gain in check and may even help ease delivery. Women who were not active during pregnancy should not suddenly take up a vigorous activity such as running, and all women should first check with their doctors before doing any kind of physical activity. Certain exercises such as bicycle riding, horseback riding, skiing – even volleyball and basketball, aren’t recommended during pregnancy due to their high risks for falling and colliding with others. Also, after the first trimester, pregnant women should avoid anything that has them laying flat on their backs. Activities that are typically safe during pregnancy include yoga, most cardiovascular machines (elliptical, treadmill, stationary bike), weightlifting (some modifications may be needed)…and, of course, walking.

In the immediate post-partum days, you need to give your body time to recuperate. Labor and delivery is a major event, and there’s a tremendous amount of recovery going on inside your body. Especially if you required stitches or had a c-section, it’s important to take it easy for the first 6 weeks, or at least until your doctor gives you the green light to exercise. Even then, take it slow.

Keep in mind –

Remember, it took 9 months to grow a pregnant body. It will take some time to lose the weight. Pregnancy is not a time to diet, but it is a great time to think about reassess your eating habits and to set yourself and your baby up for the best possible success.

Published by

Elana Natker, MS, RD

I'm a dietitian, communications professional, wife, mother - just your typical modern-day woman trying to juggle it all.

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