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Getting Back Your Body After Baby

Jennifer Beam


The postnatal period can be a difficult time considering all the major changes in your life and your body. You will likely find yourself exhausted, still carrying extra weight and may feel unattractive. In reality, becoming a mom is a beautiful thing. The important thing to remember is that you will adjust just as your body will all in due time.

During the first few days after giving birth, the most exercise you should be doing is getting up and walking. You will need to rest when you can and picking up baby is the most strenuous activity you should undertake. Remind yourself what a monumental achievement giving birth is. You're not going to walk out of the hospital ready for the catwalks of Paris or even a trip to the grocery store. Allow time to mentally and physically adapt to your new schedule and lifestyle. Within two weeks, you should start to gain some physical strength and may feel like an outing or two. Start slow, such as walks around the block or a shopping mall. Once you feel ready to begin shedding postnatal pounds and toning back up, you can begin an exercise routine. It is recommended that you wait until your six-week postnatal visit so you can discuss any concerns you are having about energy and weight loss with your doctor at that time.

What's the key to getting back your girlish figure? An obstetrical RN from Dr. Lori Hemmelgarn's Ob/Gyn office says it's a balanced diet and exercise. The main factors to consider are your metabolic rate and the amount of weight you gained during pregnancy. The effect of exercise will also vary depending on your energy level and how active you were while pregnant. If you were put on restrictions such as bed rest during pregnancy, exercise and weight loss may be more difficult at first.

As for a balanced diet, it may be harder to maintain than you think. When you're a new mom and sleep is so rare, caffeine can become what you think is an indispensable resource for energy. Yet keep in mind that caffeine is an appetite suppressant and after 4 cups of coffee you might not be hungry for breakfast. While the caffeine may make you feel better for a couple of hours, it can't offer the nutritional value of breakfast or any other regular meal. A well balanced diet will give you energy resources to draw from throughout the day. Try to limit your caffeine intake to one or two cups a day and drink plenty of water. Snacking on healthy foods like carrot or celery sticks and fruit is good for keeping up the endless resources of energy you need.

If you breast feed, an even greater emphasis should be placed on a healthy diet. However, weight loss isn't necessarily going to be any easier if you bottle feed. When asked about the idea that women who breast feed lose weight easier and quicker, Dr. Hemmelgarn's RN says "From a medical standpoint there is really no truth to that and I can't say I've seen it hold true in my patients." No matter your feeding choice for baby, your schedule will be hectic so try to have healthy foods like yogurt and vegetables on hand and ready to eat when hunger strikes.

Lifestyle and Motivation

Examine your lifestyle and motivations for wanting to get back into shape. Do you want exercise to be your time to relax and do something for yourself or are you eager to include your baby in everything you do? There are many choices for exercise routines and you are more likely to stick to one if it's done so you enjoy it. If you want time alone, arrange a time of day when someone else is home to care for you baby and go for a power walk. If you're looking for productive time with baby, look into "Mommy and Me" programs from a local recreation center or on home video.

Finding the Energy

If you are feeling depressed, or are lacking the energy to dedicate to exercise, you might be experiencing the baby blues or the more serious postpartum depression. Take your feelings seriously and inform and educate yourself on this reality.

Remember to do small things to boost your self-esteem. Take a bubble bath, buy a new shade of lipstick, get a new hairstyle or buy a post-pregnancy outfit. Feeling good about yourself and your body comes from the inside. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and every baby knows their mom is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Jennifer Beam is a freelance writer and contributing writer for Baby Corner.

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