Your baby helped you gain it. Now, let your baby help you to lose it! The average woman gains between 25-35 pounds during a healthy pregnancy. She can expect to lose 12-14 pounds during delivery. That can leave as much as 20 pounds (or more), left to lose after the baby is born!
The good news is that there's a completely natural way to shed that extra weight -- breastfeeding! Breastfeeding isn't just healthy for your baby; it's healthy for you, too, and can help you shed those extra pounds faster -- and easier -- than if you bottle feed.
Several recent study results have proven what women have known for centuries: moms who breastfeed either exclusively or just partially have slimmer hips and weigh less in the first six postpartum months than moms who feed their babies formula.
Producing milk to nourish your baby takes a lot of work. A mother who is feeding her child exclusively with breast milk can expect to use more than 500 extra calories a day just to support her milk supply! That can add up to 3,500 calories (or more than one pound of fat), every week. Breastfeeding, coupled with a regular exercise routine and healthy diet, can help a nursing mom lose all of her postpartum weight within 9 to11 months.
While breast feeding may help to jumpstart your weight loss after baby, there are a few things to consider:
* The Need to Eat More. It's true that some nursing mothers do find it necessary to eat a bit more in order to keep up their milk supply. But, most find that if they avoid indulging in fatty and sugary foods and sweets, they continue to lose weight even with the added caloric intake.
* The Need to Exercise. Nothing will help you get back into those pre-pregnancy jeans faster than exercise. While many breastfeeding mothers worry that exercise will hinder their milk production, or change the taste of the milk, most experts agree that a reasonable amount of exercise (20-60 minutes per day of light aerobics such as walking) won't change your milk at all, and will help you look and feel better than doing without any exercise at all.
* Remember to Eat a well-Balanced Diet. Nursing moms have to take special care to eat the right foods since everything they eat now will be going to their baby later. The best way to give yourself and your baby the vitamins and minerals you both need, as well as lose those unwanted pounds, is to fill your plate with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and protein rich foods.
* Remember to Ease Up On Your Calorie Intake As Baby Weans. While most nursing moms find that their baby weight melts off while they're breastfeeding, many report gaining 10-15 pounds when their baby begins the weaning process. Why? The answer is simple: their body no longer requires those extra calories, making it crucial to begin cutting back on your caloric intake as your baby cuts back on nursing.
* Growth Spurts = Weight Loss. Many nursing mothers report added weight loss during a baby's growth spurt periods (usually at 7 days; 2 weeks; 4 weeks; 3 months; 6 months and 9 months). As growth spurts hit, most babies nurse nearly non stop for a few days to signal the mother's body to increase milk production. This round-the clock-nursing uses even more calories, which often results in a quick and unexpected weight reduction.
* Take Your Time. It's hard to be patient to get back to your old size once the baby is born. After all, you probably haven't felt much like your old self in months, and just want to feel like you again. But remember, it took almost a year for your body to grow into the size it is now, and it won't shrink back to what you consider normal overnight. Give yourself the time to safely lose those unwanted pounds. Most health experts agree that a 1-2 pound a week weight loss is the most any mom -- especially nursing moms -- should strive for.
Losing weight after having a baby isn't easy, but you can do it. The key things to remember are to:
* Use more calories by breastfeeding
* Exercise regularly
* Eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet
* Give yourself the time to take off the weight
Try all four of these, and before you know it you'll begin to look and feel like your old self again.