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Losing Weight After Your Pregnancy

When you're pregnant, you gain weight. That’s a simple fact – it's necessary for you to gain weight to properly nourish your growing baby. Of course, you’ll lose some weight when you give birth, but probably not as much as you expect. It's normal to want to return to your pre-pregnancy weight as quickly as possible. But just remember that the celebrities you see back in their size 0 jeans four weeks after giving birth have a team of personal trainers, chefs and nannies at their disposal, not to mention large financial incentives – possibly even contractual obligations – for losing weight. Even without these perks, you can lose weight after your pregnancy – the important thing is to be realistic, be patient and be consistent in your efforts.

First, don’t panic. There’s nothing intrinsic about having a baby that forever dooms you to extra weight. In fact, there are several biological factors that can help you lose weight more easily after pregnancy. One of the best is breastfeeding. The benefits for the baby are well documented and well known. But what are less known are the benefits for the recovering mother. The same hormones that stimulate the expression of milk also stimulate the shrinking of the uterus. Remember, your uterus just went through a massive change – it stretched from the size of your fist to big enough to wrap around a baby and back. It will need all the help it can get. Breastfeeding also helps you avoid breast cancer in the future.

But more importantly from a weight loss standpoint, breastfeeding requires a lot of energy. That means you burn a lot of calories and will lose weight while doing it. In addition, when you’re breastfeeding, you must continue to eat a healthy diet so that you can produce enough high quality milk for your baby. Eating healthfully after pregnancy will not only help you to have enough energy to care for baby and yourself, but will also assist in your weight loss efforts. Just don’t reduce your calories so much that you end up lethargic or ill. Working too hard to return to your pre-baby weight quickly isn’t a good idea – this can be fraught with danger and have long term consequences for your health.

And like exercise during pregnancy, you must check with your health care provider before beginning any diet program. Even in the best of situations, finding a balance between the amount of food necessary to feed your recovering body and still lose weight is a very tall order. It would take a level of dietary control that’d be beyond some research labs – much less a family with the demands of a new baby.

That doesn’t mean that losing weight is a hopeless proposition – just that you should be realistic about your goals and have a health care professional looking over your shoulder. And, of course, don’t discount the place of exercise. As always, combining a healthy diet with a sensible exercise program is the best long term strategy for losing weight. Here’s another place where your doctors will come in handy – they’re best people to determine if your body is ready to begin physical activity and just how intense that activity should be.

If you were athletic and active before the baby, you will be able to get back to where you were. Just don’t try to do too much too fast – it took you nine months to have the baby, and it may take you another nine months to get back to where you were before your pregnancy.