By Tamara Marini, RD, CD, Manager, Clinical Nutrition & Diabetes Management at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – All Saints.
Whether you're welcoming home a new baby or celebrating your baby’s first birthday, losing the weight gained during pregnancy can be a challenge. Having a baby not only changes your life, but your body too. Although there will be obstacles to overcome, such as unpredictable schedules, fatigue and limited time, it’s important to keep your health a priority. Here are five tips to help get healthy and fit post-pregnancy:
- Eat regular meals and make smart choices. Make at least three of your grain choices whole grains and limit refined and processed foods. Include lean protein sources, getting in at least 6 ounces from sources such as poultry, lean red meat, fish and legumes. Enjoy a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables – the more the better! And, for adequate calcium, choose 3 servings of low fat dairy and cheese. Avoid temptation foods – just don’t buy them.
- Be active and exercise. Once you have the “OK” from your health care provider, start slowly. Make sure you wear a supportive bra (especially if breastfeeding) and comfortable clothes. Include your baby in your activity – walk with a stroller or look for Mother & Baby exercise classes (for example, Mommy & Baby Yoga classes).
- Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight. While exclusively breastfeeding, you will need about 500 more calories to fuel your body for the extra energy needs.
- Get enough sleep. Advice frequently given is “sleep when your baby sleeps." Catching a couple of naps throughout the day will help charge your battery. Many times we make less healthy food choices and are “too tired” to exercise when getting inadequate sleep.
- Set realistic goals. Healthy weight loss is one pound per week. Keep your plan simple by having healthy foods to choose from at home, and look for 10-15 minute time blocks to go for walks with the baby. Reach out to family and friends for support or try a weight management and fitness app to help keep you on track.
Combining healthy nutrition and activity will help you be successful. Remember, it took an entire pregnancy to gain the weight, so be patient, and enjoy this time with your baby and your body.