I'm going to say something that might scare some of you all who don't have babies yet - with delivery, you can expect to lose 12-15 pounds. A normal, healthy pregnant woman carrying one child should gain 25-35 pounds during the nine month gestation period. So what happens to the extra weight? Oh right. You have to work to lose it. But with all the other things you have to juggle, how does one get in shape after baby? Again, I'm not a fitness expert or a physician (make sure to check with them before you start any nutrition or workout regimen), but I was at my pre-pregnancy weight 4 1/2 months after giving birth to Baby C. This is how I did it:
Yeah. It's that simple. Within three weeks of giving birth (and nursing what seemed like every waking moment), I had lost over half of my pregnancy weight. I literally did not do anything. The first two weeks, I barely got out of bed because I had a c-section and moving was not so much fun. Breastfeeding burns anywhere from 400-800 calories a day! Whew!
Set a goal
Around my 36th week of pregnancy, I pretty much gave up on physical exercise. I was so swollen and uncomfortable and couldn't fit into anything anymore. Every time I passed someone running on the street, I got insanely jealous. So I set a goal and decided to run a half marathon 6 months postpartum. I signed up with some friends so I would be accountable to others. I set out a training plan. In theory, this would have been fantastic and I would be a week away from running my first half marathon. But two weeks into my training, I broke my toe and that took me out of the game.
But do set a goal. "Losing the baby weight" does not count as a goal. A goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART). "I want to lose 20 pounds within 3 months of getting cleared by my doctor" is a great example of a SMART goal. When setting goals, keep in mind what it will take to achieve it. Will you need to go to a gym, and therefore, need to get a babysitter? Do you have a partner that is going to help and support you? You have to set yourself up to succeed, so figure out what that will mean and go for it!
Plan around a big event (if possible)
Can you plan your pregnancy near a high school reunion? What about a big wedding? I'm kind of kidding, but honestly, knowing you'll have to see some people you haven't seen in awhile (and hopefully looking fabulous) will be a huge motivator to kick it into high gear.
Work out with your baby
If you integrate your baby into your workout, there's no excuse to why you can't get some exercise in! And before you think I'm suggesting getting on a cardio machine with your baby in a carrier or propping them up against heavy weights, let me explain. You can use your baby as resistance...basically, the cutest weights you'll ever lift. David Kirsch, a top notch celebrity trainer, has some suggestions over at Weight Watchers.
There are a whole host of issues that can crop up when you're a new mom. For one thing, you have no idea how exhausted you're going to be. Your baby could be a solid sleeper....or not. You could be incredibly sore for weeks after labor. Maybe have plans A, B, and C. Plan A might mean going to a kickboxing class, but you're too tired. Plan B could be having a few workout DVDs and hand weights to make sure you get some physical exercise in while baby naps.
Be patient and appreciate your body
Above all, just give yourself a break and acknowledge what your body has already done thus far. It has supported another life (or lives!) for 9 months during pregnancy, it has survived the labor process, and it is now helping to develop a healthy child. You can't wish the weight away (unfortunately), but by making good choices with your diet and trying to fit in exercise when you can, you can work it off.