It seems like you only need to go as far as the nearest supermarket checkout line to see photos of celebrity moms flaunting their amazing post-pregnancy figures – a few months or even weeks after giving birth. One week it’s Blake Lively, the next week it’s Mila Kunis, giving the impression that managing weight loss after pregnancy is a cinch.
But while speedy celebrity transformations are certainly impressive, are they healthy? What are the effects of rapid weight loss on the new mother – and, indirectly, the new child?
What are the best ways to manage weight loss after pregnancy? These are questions we hear regularly at our practice … and here are a few answers.
How long should it take to get back to pre-pregnancy weight?
If you have a normal body mass index and gained the usual 25-35 pounds prior to childbirth (45 for twins), you can expect to lose half of your baby weight within the first six weeks and the rest in the following months, ideally at a rate of one or two pounds per week. For many women in good physical condition, six months is a reasonable amount of time to get back into shape. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine how soon after childbirth you should start exercising.
What are the dangers of losing weight faster than this?
Your body needs time to recover from childbirth. Losing weight too quickly can stress your body even more and make it harder for you to get back to normal. Remember that crash dieting can cause you to lose muscle and lower your energy level, while fad diets are not always successful in the long term. And if you’re breastfeeding, losing weight too quickly can reduce the quantity and quality of milk your body produces.
What are the best ways to achieve weight loss after pregnancy?
The safest ways to lose weight are eating less and exercising more. But check with your doctor to see how many calories you need each day, and don’t go below this. Don’t skip meals. Instead, try eating five or six small meals a day, rather than three larger meals. This will help keep your energy up. And be sure to start your day with a healthy breakfast.
Here are a few more tips:
- Eat slowly, so you’ll know when you’re full.
- Choose lowfat milk and dairy products.
- Snack on fruits and vegetables, which tend to be high in vitamins and fiber.
- Avoid sugary or high-calorie drinks and food.
- Drink eight or nine cups of water each day to help flush out fat as you lose weight.
- Choose baked or broiled foods rather than fried alternatives.
- After six weeks or so, start taking your baby for two 15-minute walks each day or use the baby’s naptimes to work out to a video.
- Consider local fitness programs created for mothers and babies.
Will I get my pre-baby body back?
While many women are able to get their pre-baby body back, not all women are able to return to their pre-pregnancy shape or weight. Pregnancy can result in wider hips, a softer belly and a larger waistline. Some women take longer than others. If six months isn’t enough for you to meet your goals, set a target of your child’s first birthday. Above all, stay positive … and remember: The most important thing is to take care of yourself and your baby.
About the practice
Dr. John Garofalo, M.D., is a OBGYN located in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He has more than 20 years of practice and surgical experience covering many facets of obstetrics and gynecology.
Laury Berkwitt, APRN, is a nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Laury has a passion for providing quality women’s health care in a safe and comfortable manner by creating a trusting patient-practitioner relationship. She has been in practice for more than 10 years, caring for women of all ages.
For more information, go to www.garofaloobgyn.com. John Garofalo, MD and Laury Berkwitt, APRN can be reached for personal consultations by calling 203.855.3535.