The Dirtiest Words to Any New Mom: Baby Weight

Health & Wellness on 02.27.12
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Photo: puuikibeach/Creative Commons

You'd think "poop" or "colic" would be the most abhorred words in the eyes of new mothers everywhere. Although those certainly strike fear into our hearts, no word (or phrase, in this case) elicits the dread and on-going worry like the following: baby weight.

Unlike poopy diapers, few women ever truly get used to lugging around the extra pounds acquired during pregnancy. Unlike colic, baby weight doesn't typically resolve itself over time (unless you're one of the nauseatingly lucky ones). Naturally, most mommies recognize the fact that any pounds packed on were totally worth the end result, but that doesn't make these unfortunate physical changes any easier to swallow.  I just gave birth to my third little guy seven weeks ago, and you'd think I'd have this whole post-partum weight loss thing down to a science. Unfortunately, I've discovered that it changes every single time. Some of that has to do with age and metabolism, but I found myself wondering if I am handling the weight loss effort as efficiently as possible. In particular, I put myself on a mission to uncover any weight loss tips specific to new moms that other, run-of-the-mill dieters don't have to mess with. Here's what I found out:

- The recommended wait time to begin any calorie-counting diet is six weeks after giving birth for non-nursing moms (8 weeks for women who have C-sections) and two months for nursing mothers.

- When you do embark on a diet, don't starve yourself!!! Most women require at least 1,500 to 2,200 calories each day, and breastfeeding mothers needing an average of 2,000 to 2,700 to properly nourish themselves and baby.

- You'll lose some weight if you diet, but you will see real results if you pair it with exercise. Science has actually proven this, so make every effort to hit the gym or take a speedy walk around the block a few times a week.

- Eating less, but more often, can help you avoid hunger-pang induced binge sessions. Plus, skipping meals negatively impacts metabolism, so eat a healthy breakfast, already!

- Resist the urge to estimate your caloric intake - you're probably not as accurate as you think. Instead, use a free tool to help you track your calories. I like the My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone (also available online), which lets you set a goal and input all of your meals, snacks, beverages and even exercise. It even has a handy bar code scanner, so if you don't feel like searching for a food you can just point your phone at a product (provided it has a bar code - aiming it at an apple won't work) and the app will pull up the data for you.

- Every new mother - every woman, for that matter - has a different postpartum weight loss experience and timeline. Avoid the self-defeating urge to compare yourself with other women, unless you really want throw your whole diet off track. Instead, be patient, take baby steps and give yourself plenty of time to get your bod back in pre-baby (or something like it) shape.

What other postpartum diet and exercise tips have worked for you?

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