In love with your new bundle of joy but not loving the extra bundle around your middle? If you feel like the extra pregnancy fluff can't melt off fast enough and you're also nursing, keep reading to learn what you need to know about losing the baby weight.
When You Can Start
Here's written permission to take at least two months to soak up that new baby's love without thinking one tiny thought about dieting! Healing after birth, focusing on caring for you and your newborn, and sleeping as much as you can are your top priorities — not fitting into your old skinny jeans.
Dieting is not recommended in the first few months of a baby's life, so don't restrict your calories, as you'll need extra to produce enough milk and keep your immune system strong. But you can jump-start your weight-loss journey by exercising as soon as your doctor gives you the green light — usually six weeks postpartum if you've had a vaginal birth or eight weeks if you've had a cesarian. Ease back into your exercise routine by going on walks with your baby or take a mommy-and-me yoga class. Gradually increase the intensity as your body is ready. Strength training is essential as it'll not only help you carry around your babe and stand rocking them for an hour straight at 2 a.m., but lean muscle burns more calories.
How Many Calories
It's recommended that all nursing moms consume about 400 to 500 extra calories to help them produce enough milk to feed their little one. This equates to no less than 1600 to 1800 calories a day to ensure enough calories for both mom and her milk.
What to Eat
To encourage weight loss, skip the cookies and ice cream, and continue eating the healthy diet you became a pro at while preggo. Choose a variety of nutritious foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats like nuts and avocado. You can encourage healthy eating by boosting the nutrition of your favorite foods (add greens to banana muffins), packing 100-calorie snacks, and keeping a snack box in your fridge when hunger strikes. Coincidentally, these healthy foods are just what you need to start shedding pounds. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand at all times, as water will not only fill you up so you eat less, it'll help with your milk supply and can speed up your metabolism. Of course the occasional splurge is OK and encouraged! Depriving yourself of what you crave could push you to overeat.
When to Eat
If you thought you were hungry while pregnant, just wait until you're breastfeeding. Hunger kicks in big time, which is a great way to monitor how much to eat. Instead of the usual three meals and two snacks a day, you'll definitely want to allow hunger to cue meal and snack times. Aim to eat a little something every two hours, so you'll be sure to use up the calories you're taking in.
How Much You'll Lose
It took you nine months to put on this weight, so don't expect the weight to come off within a couple months. Your main focus is feeding your baby for the first six months of his or her life, and while breastfeeding helps some women naturally lose weight quickly, it's not the case for everyone, so don't worry if nursing isn't the magic key to unlock your prepregnancy body. Once your baby is eating solid foods regularly (eight to 12 months postpartum), you can focus more on gradually decreasing your calorie intake to lose weight — don't make a sudden drop in calories as this could affect your milk supply. Expect to lose about six pounds per month after the first couple months — lose more and it could affect your health or supply of milk.
How Your Bed Can Help
"Sleep, what's that?" While a full night in dreamland is a distant memory, getting as much sleep as you can is essential for weight loss. Since your little peanut might not sleep through the night for a year or longer, go to bed early to catch up on the time you're awake in the middle of the night. And for the times you're home with baby, listen to other wise moms and nap while baby naps.
What Else You Can Do
Keep breastfeeding! Studies show that more frequent breastfeeding and doing so for longer than six months helps with mom's weight loss. Also go shopping! Since you won't fit into your pregnancy jeans overnight, and you've probably thrown all your maternity jeans in the fireplace (good call), you'll need a way to monitor your weight, and wearing stretchy yoga pants every day unfortunately isn't the best option. Every time you slim down a bit, buy a new pair of jeans, and it'll make your weight loss tangible — but leave the baby home; trying on jeans while your little one has a meltdown isn't fun for anyone.