Expert Tips for Losing Weight After Baby

Get sensible ideas for taking off those extra pounds.

We've all seen the photos: beaming celebrity moms holding their adorable babies and sporting postpregnancy bodies that are fit for bikinis. It's frustrating to see gorgeous celebrity moms who seem to effortlessly bounce back to their pre-baby weight and tone. Well, we can't all be Cindy Crawford.

You can get healthy and fit after your baby is born. But any woman who has gained excess weight during pregnancy knows that simply wanting to get into shape won't be enough. You're going to have to work at it. Not any one weight-loss method works for all women, but there are sensible tips all new moms should follow. Here, professional dietitians and trainers give the skinny on what to do to lose those postpregnancy pounds:

  • Nursing doesn't mean eating for two. If you're nursing, you need extra calories. But according to nutritionist Jo-Ann Heslin, RD, "That doesn't mean eating twice as much." According to Heslin, it's more like eating for one and a quarter. With your doctor's help, figure out what your calorie intake should be to maintain your optimal weight. Then add 500 calories per day to that while you're nursing. When you stop nursing, ask your doctor what your caloric intake should be to reach your weight-loss goal.
  • Move, Mama, move. If you really want to look good and lose weight, you need to incorporate exercise into your life. "Cutting down on food without exercise will cause you to lose muscle mass; you need to combine diet with exercise for sustained weight loss," says Martha Walls, RD, senior nutritionist with Weight Watchers International. She also recommends walking as a great form of postpartum exercise because you can take your baby with you.
  • Use the buddy system. New parenthood can be lonely -- and so is dieting. Make it easier by joining a group such as Weight Watchers or finding another new mom to walk with, share dieting triumphs and disasters with, or even swap babysitting with while you work out to a video.
  • Be smart about snacks. Taking care of a baby is hard enough, but going around hungry will make matters worse. Just choose your snacks wisely. If cutting fresh fruit is too time-consuming, try prepackaged fruit cups. Other good snacks include pretzels, popcorn, yogurt, or preparation-free fruits and vegetables such as grapes, bananas, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots. Dry cereal is a great snack because it satisfies your sweet tooth plus it's fortified with vitamins -- something nursing moms need.
  • Patience, patience. You didn't put on those pounds overnight, and you're not going to lose them immediately. Nor should you. It's not good to lose weight too quickly because it can interfere with your milk production. While most sensible diet plans recommend losing only two pounds a week at most, nursing moms should beware of losing more than one pound a week. The payoff: What comes off stays off!

Additional reporting by Pamela Stock

Reviewed 2/02 by Jane Forester, MD

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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