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Reaching Prepregnancy Weight

At this point in your pregnancy, you're probably dreaming of returning to your normal weight. Even though your delivery is still weeks away, start making plans now for losing weight after your baby is born. If you have an exercise plan in place, you'll be more likely to follow through on it. Now is a good time to check out health clubs that have infant care, exercise classes for new mothers (babies are usually welcome), and neighborhood or mall-walking groups. If you gain the recommended 30 pounds during pregnancy, approximately 7 of those pounds will be fat. Your body stores fat while you're pregnant because it needs sufficient fat reserves for milk production during breastfeeding. The additional fat parks on your hips, your buttocks, your arms, your legs--pretty much any place you'd rather not have extra fat.

If you are breastfeeding, losing weight too quickly after delivery is not recommended because it may hamper your body's ability to manufacture milk. Don't even think about weight loss until your milk supply is well established--at least 6 to 8 weeks postpartum.

When you do return to your pre-pregnancy weight, you may find that clothes don't fit the way they used to. Even if you are the same weight, your body may seem different. You may have a thicker waist, heavier-looking thighs, or a rounder belly. Your fat-to-muscle ratio may have changed. Muscle weighs more than fat, so even if you are the same weight, you may have more fat and less muscle than you used to.

Breastfeeding may help you lose weight. Some women say the extra pounds dropped off while they nursed, although others say their body weight didn't budge an ounce until after they weaned their babies. Losing your baby fat and regaining your prepregnancy body require exercise and a smart eating plan. Exercise builds muscle, burns fat, and tones your body. With hard work, you can have your former body back--or create an even better version of it!

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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