I had it all planned out from the moment I found out I was pregnant. I had always been fit, active, and frankly, darn proud of my body. I was going to gain the obligatory forty pounds per my doctor’s instructions, have the baby, and then hit the running track. I was going to breastfeed, and the weight was going to simply fall off. I was going to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight in a matter of weeks.
Or so I thought.
For those of you who conquered the laws of biology and came home from the hospital carrying your little bundle of joy and wearing your skinny pre-pregnancy jeans, I reluctantly tip my hat to you. For the rest of us though, it’s just not that simple.
There is no quick solution to lose the baby weight. I’m very against supplements and fad diets and had never given into them. But as the months wore on and the excuse “I just had a baby” began to be less effective as my infant began to crawl and babble, I soon realized the weight was not going to just fall off, even though I was breastfeeding exclusively.
There is no perfect formula or step-by-step guide to getting back your small waistline, but here are a few things that worked for me:
Keep calm and carry…your child.
The first several weeks after you have a child, your body is undergoing a major healing process. I hear so many new moms who are just days into motherhood already expressing the desire to start losing weight.
I get it. Been there, done that.
Take advantage of that precious and fast-fleeting time you have with your newborn. Don’t worry about hitting the gym right away. In fact, heavy exercise and dieting during those first few weeks could not only affect your ability to heal properly, but could actually hinder your long-term weight loss goals.[i]
Snack Away! (Healthfully)
One of the biggest mistakes moms (especially those who breastfeed) make is thinking that they can eat what they want and lose weight. While breastfeeding does burn extra calories each day, that does not give you a free “all-you-can-eat” ticket.
The challenge for me was that I was simply hungry all the time with breastfeeding, especially since I was usually nursing around the clock every two hours. My advice: set up healthy “snack stations” around the house in areas where you typically nurse your little one. Set a bowl of almonds next to the rocking chair. Take an apple in the morning and set it on the end table next to the couch. That way, when you sit there later to watch TV during an afternoon nursing session, you’ll have easy access to a healthy piece of fruit rather than being tempted to grab that family-sized bag of potato chips.
Get Your Zs
I know, you’re thinking, How in the world does someone get sleep with a newborn? The best thing you can do is to get help when you can. If someone offers to cook you dinner, do not say no! No mother in the history of time has ever gotten a special heroine award for being sleep-deprived.
Plus, lack of sleep causes your body to release the stress hormone cortisol, which could not only affect your mood and alertness, but could also lead to emotional issues and depression.[ii] Ignore those “mommy guilt” feelings that are inevitable when you take some time for yourself. Your baby will be much better off with a well-rested, happy mother.