Getting in shape after pregnancy

Written by darlena cunha
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How to lose the baby weight without losing your mind

Getting in shape after pregnancy
With a little patience and the right goals, losing your baby weight is entirely possible. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Walking is something that should be done every single day when you are pregnant. Take 30 to 45 minutes out of your day and get some fresh air. Just get outside and walk. Walk tall and walk proud.

— Matt Mallard, personal trainer.

After nine months of carrying another human being in your body, you may feel as though you've fallen down a rabbit hole from which you will never return. "It is frustrating when the weight does not just fall off," said Dr. Shireen Madani Sims, an obstetrician and gynecologist. "I always tell my patients, 'It took nine months to put it on, and it can take nine months to take it off.' " You don't have to be frustrated by the post-baby body blues, though. If you start slowly, follow through, create a schedule and set reasonable goals for your body type, pregnancy type and infant needs, you'll be on the road to postpartum health in no time.

Acceptance and planning

Getting in shape after pregnancy
Keeping fit while pregnant will help you bounce back. (Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

The first step to getting fit after pregnancy is to accept that your new body will undergo some irreversible changes.

"The abdominal wall does not ever really return to the pre-pregnancy state once it has been stretched," Madani said. "Some women do keep extra weight in the lower abdomen, even if they get back to pre-pregnancy weight."

The best way to minimise the impact is to stay fit throughout pregnancy, said Matt Mallard, personal trainer. He recommends concentrating on flexibility, stretching and, most of all, walking.

"Walking is something that should be done every single day when you are pregnant," he said. "Take 30 to 45 minutes out of your day and get some fresh air. Just get outside and walk. Walk tall and walk proud."

Use the time while pregnant to plot out a plan for how to get back into shape once you give birth. Mother Tiffany Precissi, says she started researching healthy eating habits and fitness routines while she was expecting, then she put them into action after her baby's birth.

"I realised that I had to set a healthy example for my daughter," Precissi said. "I had to get myself in shape to be able to keep up with her."

Easy home workouts

Getting in shape after pregnancy
Walking outdoors is great for mum and baby. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Once your new baby arrives, finding time to get to the gym or even a half-hour to pop in a workout DVD at home will be almost impossible. The easiest way to get in some exercise while caring for an infant is to incorporate your baby into your routine, Mallard said.

"Every child giggles in excitement when someone takes and presses them over their head," he said. "How is that any different than doing an overhead press with two dumbbells?"

If you were walking every day during your pregnancy, don't give up now. New mother, Hanna Villarrubia, said she lost more than 45 kilos (more than 7 stone) after her pregnancy using her baby carrier for long walks.

"I highly recommend baby-wearing because not only can you power walk to your heart's delight, but the babies love it," Villarrubia said. "They go right to sleep, and you actually get a little quiet time."

The gym routine

Getting in shape after pregnancy
Full-body workouts should include everyday movements, such as pushing. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

As your child grows, you'll be able to step away more often, and maybe even get to the gym. When you go, Mallard advises a full-body workout three times per week, concentrating on squats, lunges, pushes and pulls, and twists and bends. For postpartum women, he says, it's important to mimic everyday movements in your workouts.

He also recommends Kegel exercises for toning the lower tummy region, but he warns that most women do them wrong.

"When done correctly, you should feel the muscle lift up, not just clench, and feel a contraction in your lower abdomen," he said.

After Precissi gave birth, she started CrossFit, a combination of weightlifting, sprinting and gymnastics. The goal is to maximize your repetitions in a set amount of time, with each workout lasting no more than an intense 20 minutes.

"While I have had a good loss on the scale, I've had a great loss in inches, and that is more important to me," Precissi said. "I feel strong and empowered, and my self-confidence is sky high."

Don't forget diet

Getting in shape after pregnancy
(Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Diet is half of the fitness equation and should not be forgotten. Your body needs to replenish its nutrient stores after pregnancy.

Madani advises including nuts, seeds and beans in your diet and buying iron-fortified bread and pasta. You should also eat plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, she said.

Mallard cautions against eating too little to try to lose the baby weight. He advises women with newborns to eat plenty of protein such as chicken, turkey and lean cuts of beef.

Most women find success through eating many small meals each day, Madani says. Villarrubia agrees with that tip.

"It's better to indulge frequently than to deprive yourself to the point where you are ready to give up dieting for good," she said. "The most important thing is to remain consistent."

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