The headlines pop up constantly about how the latest celebrity to have had a baby has lost all of the weight she put on in a remarkable amount of time. As such, there become these unrealistic standards that women who just had a baby feel that they have to adhere to because that is what they believe society now expects of them.
These standards set a postpartum woman up to fail. When the weight does not fall off in six weeks, when she does not have a flat stomach immediately and feels too exhausted to exercise because of late nights, it is no wonder that a weight loss journey feels near impossible. However, it does not have to be this way. With the proper nutrition, an enjoyable exercise, and support from family or a community, getting back to or close to pre-baby weight might not seem like such an overwhelming task achieve, especially if it becomes a lifestyle change.
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Here are tips to help get your body back after baby, and where to find emotional support to help you along the way on your journey to getting there.
How Much Weight Is There To Lose
According to the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the average weight gain that a woman should have for a healthy pregnancy is between 25 and 35 pounds. For those who are underweight or overweight, those numbers may vary, but by and large, this weight gain is what doctors look for to sustain a growing, unborn child.
While that may seem like a monumental amount of weight to lose once the baby is born, some of that weight will be lost when the baby is born.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most women lose close to 13 pounds when a baby is delivered. That weight loss comes from the baby itself, the placenta, and amniotic fluid. Over the next several weeks, as fluid retention is reduced, more weight will be lost as well. As such, overall, there may be about 10 to 15 pounds that need to be lost that is made up of maternal fat stores.
Lose Weight Safely
When starting a weight loss journey, especially right after delivering a baby, it is necessary to treat the body kindly. After all, it did just grow and birth child, not to mention the fact that it took nearly nine months to put the weight on to support the pregnancy. As such, it could take the same amount of time, if not a bit more, to get back to pre-pregnancy weight. Therefore, starting an extremely calorie-restrictive diet is not recommended, according to Healthline.
According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy weight loss is losing approximately one pound per week. Not only will this rate of weight loss not leave a new mother feeling weak or starving, but because it comes off slowly, there is a better chance of keeping it off.
Breastfeeding And Weight Loss
For those new mothers who are breastfeeding, they can burn anywhere from 200 to 500 calories per day, according to VeryWell Family. As such when trying to cut down on 500 calories per day when trying to lose one pound per week, this can be a start to lowering the calorie count.
The exact amount that a woman burns depends upon the calorie needs of the baby. As a newborn up until six months, the only source of nutrition is breastmilk, for those who are exclusively breastfeeding. This means that this will be the time when the most calories are burned. As a baby starts to eat solids and does not depend on the breastmilk as much, the calorie burn decreases.
By counting calories, it is a great way of being held accountable for what food is chosen to eat. It is also a way to look back at days where weight loss occurred versus those where it plateaued or perhaps there was even a gain. Those days where no weight loss occurred can be tweaked for ultimate weight loss.
For new mothers to achieve their one pound per week weight loss, it is recommended to have approximately a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Between breastfeeding, fewer calories being consumed, and exercise, a 500 calorie per day deficit is not hard to achieve.
Exercise is not only an important part of the weight loss journey, but it helps with emotional wellbeing as well. And, unlike the restrictions that were put on women in the past to have to wait six weeks before physical activity was done, as long as a new mother was working out during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, there is no reason she cannot work out in her first few days upon returning home from the hospital.
When starting to exercise, it is important to take it easy. Something as simple as taking a walk with the baby in the stroller can recharge the batteries by being outdoors while burning calories. And as the new mother feels stronger, she can up the intensity of her workouts until she eventually gets to where she was before pregnancy.
Of course, this weight loss journey is much easier when there is a partner or community to turn to for support and motivation.
According to The Healthy Mummy, partners of pregnant women tend to put on sympathy weight. As such, what better person to lose weight and workout with than the other half of the equation caring for the baby? When both partners are working toward one common goal, they can be there for one another during their successes as well as the days that are filled with nothing but frustration.
If a partner does not need to lose weight but is still supportive, that is wonderful. However, it may not be enough to stay motivated when it comes to losing weight and working out. As such, getting together with like-minded mothers in the community or finding an online group and actively participating in it, can help to get the new mother to where she again feels comfortable with her body and how it looks having brought life into the world.
Source: The Healthy Mummy, Mayo Clinic, Healthline, American Journal Of Obstetrics & Gynecology, VeryWell Family
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