For many women, giving birth means reclaiming their bodies and shedding the extra weight. However, doctors warn against crash diets or rigorous exercise programs directly after delivery. This is especially true if you had a baby via c-section. Dr. Laura Riley, spokeswoman for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and an expert on high-risk pregnancies at Massachusetts General Hospital, notes in an article by Colette Bouchez that new moms should have realistic expectations regarding their postpartum weight loss.
Riley advises all new moms–not just those who had a C-section–refrain from dieting until after they’ve talked to their doctors at their first postpartum checkup. Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and author of “Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy,” adds that nonlactating moms should consume 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day. Breastfeeding moms need an additional 500 calories.
Particularly if you’re breastfeeding, your body needs all the fuel it can get to replenish vital nutrients lost to pregnancy, labor and delivery. One of the positive side effects of breastfeeding is that it burns calories naturally with no extra effort on your part. Once the doctor gives you the OK, Somer recommends losing no more than one pound a week. In the meantime, concentrate on healthy eating habits. Fresh salmon and nuts provide essential fatty acids, while whole fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Remember to avoid excess sugar and refined flour.
Slow and Steady
A C-section is major abdominal surgery, so starting out slow and steady with postpartum exercises is the key to safe and successful weight loss. Once your doctor gives you the green light to exercise, begin with low-impact walking. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, postpartum exercises can improve both your physical and mental health. Even if you exercised regularly before and during your pregnancy, remember you’re still in recovery mode. Slow your pace and listen to your body. Keeping up with an exercise routine over the long haul and slowly increasing intensity and duration is more beneficial than doing too much too soon.
Burn the Bump
Though you’ll initially lose some of the baby weight directly after delivery, you’ll probably have a souvenir bump for many months to come. Catherine Cram, founder of Comprehensive Fitness Consulting LLC, and postpartum fitness expert, recommends two abdominal exercises for new moms. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Practice deep inhaling and exhaling. As you exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles and hold for five counts. Repeat up to 10 times. Modify the exercise by straightening one leg as you contract your abdominal muscles, and then bring it back to the starting position. Relax, and then repeat the exercise with the other leg.