Losing That Baby Weight

At first, a new mom has no time to reclaim the body that has become so changed by pregnancy and childbirth. In those limited moments in the day when the baby is fed, dry, and asleep, exercise is probably the last thing on her mind. All a new mom can think about is sleep.

No Excuse

But don't let the new baby serve as an excuse for laziness. Exercising can make you feel great in both body and mind. It can help you lose weight, heighten your energy levels and reduce stress.

While the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) says women should wait until they get clearance from their doctors at the 6 week postpartum checkup, some health providers state that women who exercised during their pregnancies and had normal vaginal deliveries with no complications can begin exercising as soon as they like. Women who have undergone C-sections should wait 6-8 weeks before they begin an exercise program. They need this time to heal. 

Whether or not a woman is ready for outright exercise after delivery, she should start moving as soon as she can. Lindsay Richey, a certified personal trainer says, "Typically, if you have a normal vaginal delivery, you can start by getting up and walking around slowly in the hospital … Start with simple movements that will get your muscles moving again."

Muscle Strength

Richey says that exercise after pregnancy doesn't have to be difficult or intense. She suggests that moms begin by walking their babies in the stroller for 10 minutes at a time, two or three times a day. This, she says, can build cardiovascular endurance and replenish muscle strength. Pushing a stroller that weighs around 20 pounds plus the weight of the baby and you've got the makings of a terrific cardio/core workout.

Here are some more tips to help you start losing that baby weight:

*Begin with light exercise. Walk the baby in the stroller 30 minutes total at first, but increase the time in 10 minute increments and begin to add other exercise to your routine. Whenever you feel pain, stop exercising.

*Stay focused on your abdominal muscles. You don't need to do crunches, but try to do bridges: balance on your forearms and toes to make a bridge. You can also try doing push-up against a wall. This builds strength. Do this a few times a week, but always skip a day.

Drink Lots!

*Drink lots! If you don't drink enough, exercise may cause dehydration which could affect your breast milk supply. Keep a water bottle handy during your workout and sip often.

*Eat enough. It's tempting to starve yourself back into your pre-pregnancy shape, but that's too drastic to be effective or healthy. Try to aim for losing one or two pounds a week. It's not a good idea to diet just after giving birth. If you don't take in enough calories, you might find that you feel blah and moody. If you're breastfeeding, it's very important to take in enough calories to produce milk for your growing infant. A nursing mom needs 2,500 calories a day.

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