If you are pregnant you may be wondering how it is possible getting in shape after pregnancy is over especially if you gained more than what was recommended. This can lead to feelings of discouragement as pregnancy continues but there are things you can do to facilitate post-partum weight loss.
Common physiological changes of pregnancy:
• Excess weight gain.
• Postural changes that result from tightening of lower back and chest muscles combined with weakened upper back muscles.
• Stretched and weakened abdominal muscles.
• Iron deficiency anemia which causes difficulty with concentration, irritability, pale skin and fatigue.
Excessive weight gain is common in pregnancy because many women consume too many calories. For the first trimester there should be no increase in calories. The increase for the second trimester should be about 300 calories per day and 450 calories once you enter the third trimester. The recommended weight gain for a woman who was a healthy weight prior to pregnancy is 25-35 pounds. For someone who is overweight the weight gain goal is 15-25 pounds and for those who are considered obese prior to pregnancy a weight gain of 11-20 pounds is suggested.
Areas of focus for post-partum weight loss:
Breastfeeding helps you shed weight gained from pregnancy. It even has the ability to mobilize fat stores that accumulated prior to pregnancy. Not only does breastfeeding burn calories it also causes the uterus to contract back to its pre-pregnancy size. If you did exclusive breastfeeding (provide only breast milk to your baby), your body can burn up to 500 calories each day just to make breast milk. So one thing you can do that is best for your baby and yourself is to avoid formula and breastfeed exclusively. To ensure success with breastfeeding make sure have skin to skin contact with your baby immediately after delivery.
Be sure to get your doctors permission to exercise before starting an exercise program. Be prepared that for the first six weeks after giving birth you will still be in the re-cooperation phase from delivery. Walking is an excellent choice to start your journey back to a healthy body. If the weather is warm enough you can purchase a jogging stroller. This would be a great investment as you build up to a higher intensity of exercise.
Make nutrition a priority by making good dietary choices such as consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Stay hydrated by consuming water as your main beverage. For more specific meal planning strategies consult with a Registered Dietitian.
Getting in shape after pregnancy is a process that does not happen quickly. Focus on nutrition, exercise habits and even breastfeeding can give you the jump start you need to get your body back!