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Postpartum Weight Loss – A Realistic Approach & Efficient Tips

You just gave birth to a wonderful baby! Congrats! And although this implies having enough on your plate, a simple reality check tells you this is not true. Partially naked model bodies in the magazines, toned figures on TV, friends chatting about diets and the ideal silhouette.

Above all, your favorite dress is banished in the closet because it seems like it will never ever fit again. Even if you do not pay attention to all this stuff, the pressure keeps building up and the postpartum weight loss issue slowly becomes part of your everyday thoughts. Because let’s be realistic here, every one of us wants to get back in shape quick and without (much) effort.

And for most of us, getting back in shape simply means recovering our pre-birth body and seeing some familiar scales figures. It does not mean preparing ourselves for a future modeling career or dreaming at a drastic reshape. We do not want to become somebody else, it’s simply a matter of reconnecting to our old self. First psychologically and then physically. There’s such a powerful connection between body and mind that, most of the times, there is little or none postpartum weight loss without a strong determination.

Mother in stripes t-shirt breastfeeding her child

parents.com

Postpartum Weight Loss Plan Step 1: The Mind

Between breastfeeding (or not), changing diapers, doing laundry and literally guarding your infant, there are not many things you can do, that’s true. The reasonable way to handle the stressful 1-4 months after the delivery is to just not try to handle it at all. Why? Because your mind is assaulted by the novelty of your new life! You’re under a tremendous amount of stress because of all the responsibilities that motherhood comes with.

There are several common emotional issues that the majority of new mommies have to deal with:

a) the first problem is the fact that your baby’s well being is depending on you. If during the pregnancy you started to get a glimpse of what motherhood means, you are now facing the reality: your old self needs to become tougher, your pre-baby life needs to be adjusted.

b) the baby blues – that’s the second problem you’ll need to deal with. You’ll be extremely sensitive and irritated, you’ll have mood swings and feel anxious. These are completely normal feelings caused by hormonal changes after the childbirth. Be careful, if baby blues last more than a couple of weeks you need to talk to a professional, as it may be the start of postnatal depression.

c) the attachment problem – well, not all new mothers feel that instant bond with their child and it may take even weeks until you start feeling this connection. You’ll feel guilty, stressed and disappointed because of that, but it’s really important to acknowledge that it’s normal, you are not a bad mother, you just need more time then other women do.

The best thing you can do now is let your mind naturally adjust to all that. Try dealing with the multitude of strong and contradictory feelings as they come. You’ll sometimes feel overwhelmed, and that’s completely alright. Consider these 4 months as an accommodation period, get to know all your baby needs and moods. You should just adapt to it all and do not worry about anything else.

In fact, in these first months, your body will dismiss some pounds on its own, without any help. Your organism will shred around 13 pounds just after the delivery (actual baby weight, the placenta, and some amniotic fluid).  About 4-6 pounds of water weight will vanish in the next couple of weeks.

After the 4 ”trial” months you should hopefully be ready to deal with the postpartum weight loss:

Losing Baby Weight Plan Step 2: The Body

First of all, you need to know some basic things about your metabolism during pregnancy and after the childbirth:

a) it doesn’t matter what your pre-pregnancy weight was because we will all gain weight once pregnant. It seems that calories necessary during pregnancy will increase with 340 – 450/day during the second and third trimester. Before the pregnancy, you could live an active life with 2000 calories or less. Now, your calories intake should now be somewhere around 2500 – 3000 calories/day in order to satisfy the needs of your growing baby.

b) before pregnancy you could probably compensate the food excess by exercising on a regular basis or by dieting. This kind of behavior obviously needs to change: the physical activity needs to be adapted to the pregnancy and you need to pay extra attention to what exactly are you eating (it should be nutrient-rich foods).

c) after birth, the metabolism is longterm affected by age, eating habits and physical activity. That means that you can actually choose how your metabolism will be based on your lifestyle.

Woman showing her postpartum tummy

babymigo.com

So, after dealing with yourself from a mental point of view and after understanding some basic rules of your metabolism, you can now move to Step 2: The Body.

Now you should have already found the mommy-baby rhythm and have a breastfeeding & sleep schedule. And even if it’s not a strict one, you probably have noticed by now what are the hours when you are less needed around your baby. So, you can start shedding the baby weight in the healthiest way possible, focusing on these 2 interconnected parts: healthy, nutritious food and exercises.

Part 1 – Lose Baby Weight Eating Healthy, Nutritious Food

  • start with consuming smaller portions and eating frequently – when it comes to food, quantity does matter. Tips: use smaller plates (they will provide the impression of a big amount of food without containing it); scatter these smaller portions throughout the day – eat 4-5 times/day. Also, calories distribution is very important, and they will not be stored as fats if they are consumed throughout the day. Tip: check these healthy nutrients and do your groceries accordingly:
    Image of good health nutrients and shopping advice for main meals

    nutritionaustralia.org

  • hydrate yourself – drink at least 8-ounce glasses (2 l) of water and unsweetened drinks. There are so many reasons for you to do so, as Dr.Axe explains here  ;
  • watch your calories – you don’t need to go crazy with it, but start with avoiding sodas and chips. Replace these unhealthy foods, and start consuming some healthy fats in each of your meals (salmon, 3-6 olives, a quarter avocado, 6-12 nuts). Tips: eat lots of fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. They are healthy, and they will make you feel full more quickly. Take into consideration the guidelines below to see how many calories you need:

    If You’re Breastfeeding: Calories: 2,200–2,400

    If  You’re Not Breastfeeding: Calories: 1,900–2,200

  • choose healthy snacksTips: whole-grain bread with nut butter; hard-boiled eggs; celery+carrots+peppers salad & some low-fat dressing; fruits smoothies; chicken or salmon salads with whole-grain bread.
  • prepare your meals & snacks in advance Tip: do this when you have half an hour off. Organize in the fridge your meals & snacks for the next 2 days and you will not have to worry about it for a couple of days. Use glass/plastic containers and bags for all your portions in order to keep things fresh and at hand.
    Transparent containers filled with fruits and food

    mightynest.com

Extra tips:

Tip: if you are in the mood to eat something unhealthy or full of fats, do it in the morning. Of course, you will have some cravings, you are human. When you do, eat your guilty pleasures in the morning. This way,  you will still have time to diminish the damage by eating extra healthy for the rest of the day.

Tip: if you crave for a pizza, order one with half of the cheese quantity; use reduced-fat dairy, and think ”small portions”.

Tip: there are some hidden enemies you should do your best to avoid as they can seriously slow down the weight loss process. Sugar comes first.

Part 2 – Postpartum Weight Loss With Exercises That You Can Do At Home

Although the fact that weight-loss is 90% healthy diet & 10% water and physical activity is common knowledge by now, do not underestimate all the other ways in which exercising will positively impact the overall baby weight-loss process as well as your sense of well-being.

  • start with learning about diastasis recti, a postpartum condition that leaves the right and left abdominal muscles separate for about 6 months after giving birth. This means you should take it easy, start exercising gradually, and first focus on some exercises that will strengthen your core:

2 exercises to strengthen the core:

Exercise 1: The bridge – Lie with your knees bent and arms with palms facing upwards. Tighten your abs, squeeze the glutes and press down your heels to lift the hips.
How many: 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Illustrated exercise for postpartum weight loss

prevention.com

Exercise 2: Clams – Lie on a side bending the hip and knee at 45 degrees. Your feet must touch. Raise your upper knee as much as you can, without moving the pelvis and without moving the other leg off the floor. You can do this with or without weights.
How many: 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Illustrated clams exercise with weights

agoramedia.com

  • continue with the exercises below, every day, each time you’ll find some minutes to spare:

Exercise 1Plank – Prepare your body for the plank position, therefore engaging the abs and your back straight. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds. However, make sure you are maintaining it correctly, as it can put pressure onto your back if not.
How many: repeat 3-4 times.

Illustrated forearm plank exercise

weightwatchers.com

Exercise 2 – Walking lunges – Begin this in a standing position, with your feet together and your hands on the hips. Take a large step forward bending both your knees at 90 degrees. Focus on pushing through the heel of your front leg then return to the standing position.
How many: 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps for each side

Illustrated walking lunges

dreamstime.com

Exercise 3 – Arm circles – Stand straight with your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out at a 90 degrees angle to the body. Start moving your arms in small, fast circles forward and then in reverse motion.
How many: 1 minute forward + 1 minute in reverse, 2-3 reps.

Illustrated reverse arm circles exercise

getshealthy.com

Exercise 4 – choose a YouTube workout routine with moves specially made to target the postpartum weight-loss. The consistency rule stays the same: exercise every day, trying to improve your endurance in time.

Postpartum Weight Loss Tips For Exercising Efficiently

Tip 1 – try exercising in the morning. It will invigorate you and you’ll probably feel less tired than after an entire day of taking care of your baby and doing various house chores;

Tip 2 – do not go hard on yourself for the first 2-3 weeks. Your body is no longer used to exercise and you’ll probably feel exhausted at first. Do as many reps as you and improve your performance tomorrow, and so on.

Tip 3 – hydrate before, during and after exercising. You will find it easier to fulfill your daily water necessities, like these exercises, we’ll have you thirsty in no time.

Step 3 – Postpartum Weight Loss & The Skin

So, a strong mindset will open the way to a healthy diet & regular exercising and do rest assured that you’ll start seeing results starting with the second week of the ”new me” program. Did we forget something? Yes, we did: your skin, the largest organ of an adult body. Highly affected by the pregnancy, you have surely noticed that it’s less elastic and toned as it used to be. It’s time now to take advantage of some simple, yet efficient things you can use in the comfort of your home in order to improve the appearance of your skin.

Essential Oils used in so many creams and body lotions, you can benefit from their amazing natural compounds in order to have a more toned, elastic and overall healthier skin. Frankincense oil helps to strengthen the skin while Neroli oil is known for healing stretch marks, due to some compounds that help skin regenerate. There is just one rule to follow when it comes to using essential oils: dilute it using the simple rule of 3 drops essential oil added to 2 tsp of carrier oil (like coconut or olive oil). Try to use this mixture every day, after you shower.

Image of a bathroom with focus on towels, soap, oil and a dry brush

moonandstarsbeauty.com

Dry Brushing – the cellulite adversary: choose a brush that has natural bristles and, with long sweeps, brush towards the heart, starting with your feet and working up to the legs and tummy. Do this before you shower and remember, the brush needs to be dry!

A Short Recap Of Our Efficient Postpartum Weight Loss Approach

Step 1 – The Mind: start the baby weight loss process only when you feel you’re up for it and you have a decent mommy-baby routine in place.

Step 2 – The Body: begin changing your diet not thinking about what you need to let go but of what foods to choose in order to eat healthily. Start exercising focusing on being consistent: 15-30 minutes, it really does not matter as long as you do your reps every day.

Step 3 – The Skin: don’t forget to take care of it, as each pound gained or loss has after-effects on the skin. Using essential oils and dry brushing frequently will help your skin keep up with the post-pregnancy weight loss process.

If you focus on these 3 steps you should expect to lose all the baby-weight gradually, in a natural & healthy way in about 8-12 months, without unnecessary stress on your organism. As we already said, you have enough on your plate, you’re tired and under a lot of pressure so 3 small, but highly efficient steps, are just what you need to shred the extra pounds.

If you, however, want to consult with a professional before starting the postpartum weight loss process, we encourage you to seek your physician advice and inform him about any decision that may impact your health.

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