People Magazine loudly proclaims: “Talk about camera ready! A mere nine weeks after giving birth to daughter Ashby Grace, Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell has lost 24 of her 30 lbs. of pregnancy weight.” They even have a photo of Mrs. O’Dell looking lean and lovely, with her new baby girl.
O’Dell credits her quick shedding of pounds to breastfeeding, and to the fact that it’s “easy to say no to pizza” because she wants to eat healthy for her daughter. She also started working with a trainer 4 weeks after giving birth, and does ballet and dance movements three times a week.
If news like this has you in tears, wondering why you are having such a struggle getting back into shape (and into an excersize routine), don’t feel badly! Ann Collins has reassuring news about loosing weight after pregnancy: “Celebrities who give birth are surrounded by dietitians, nurses and fitness experts. Plus, they often have major commercial commitments to safeguard. So for these new moms, losing weight after pregnancy is often accomplished must faster than for more average women. They are not a good example upon which to base your own postpartum weight loss goals.”
Some health experts will quote the pregnancy weight mantra: “nine months on, nine months off.” Although you can accomplish this in less than nine months, what this means that it takes time for your body to recover from pregnancy, and you need to be gentle on yourself and not expect instant results.
For the first few months after your give birth, focus on regaining your strength, not losing weight! You should be consuming enough calories to keep up your energy and take care of your baby. You should definitely focus on eating heathly, but don’t cut calories. Your body is recovering from the physical strain of childbirth, and all the demands that a new baby makes (sleep deprivation, endless pacing and rocking, etc). Plus, your body needs adequate food (about 500 extra calories) to produce milk!
Instead of dieting and cutting calories, focus on excercize, once you feel up to it. Excersizing too vigorously, too soon, can also be damaging to your body. Brisk walking and moderate weight lifting may be a good place to start. Check with your doctor before you begin a new excercize routine.
iVillage Parenting cautions, “It is not safe or healthy to lose weight rapidly, especially while nursing. You do not want to risk a reduced milk production or a depletion of your bone and muscle tissue for the sake of getting back to your prepregnancy weight.” Science Daily says, “Returning to body weight gradually after giving birth seems to be important, because women who regain their pre-pregnancy weight within six months have a lower risk of being overweight ten years later.”
So take it slowly and give your body time to adjust naturally. You may find after a few months that the pounds seem to drop off without any effort at all! Breastfeeding, aside from all the other benefits, does help some women loose weight without even trying. Whether or not that happens to you, try to focus on being a healthy, nurturing mother to your new baby. Even if you never quite reach that target goal, a few extra pounds is well worth the joy that a newborn baby brings!