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Say Farewell to that Baby Weight

Por Claudia M. González, MS, RD, LD/N* -
Say Farewell to that Baby Weight

As you are singing "Rock A Bye Baby" to your new bundle of joy, you are also thinking about how you can say good-bye to the extra weight you put on during pregnancy.

You watched what you ate during your pregnancy, but still put on extra weight. Now that you have had your baby, you want to be the size you were before you got pregnant. Before you begin any changes in your eating habits, be sure to take into account how this may affect your infant's growth and your own health.

What happens to a woman's body during pregnancy?  
Pregnancy and delivery affects the physical and mental well-being of a woman, and it takes time for her body to recuperate. Some of the weight gained during pregnancy is needed to support recovery and  breastfeeding after pregnancy. A woman's body after pregnancy requires energy (calories) to heal, sustain its own normal functions, and support the baby's health. 
 
Many new mothers feel unhappy about how pregnancy has changed their figures. Though it is understandable to want to return quickly to a pre-pregnancy weight and shape, it is not that easy. Recuperating after pregnancy takes time, and patience. Though there are many things a woman can do to help facilitate this process, it is important not to go overboard in one's effort, as this could compromise the health of both the mother and the infant.

Have a positive attitude

Each woman's body is unique and will react to pregnancy, and recuperate, in different ways and at different rates.  
 
Women who are breastfeeding  mayexperience weight loss at a more rapid rate, as it takes energy to support the production of milk. Breastfeeding naturally helps the body to readjust and heal. It is important for women who are breastfeeding to be sure to consume enough calories to support milk production. Women who are not breastfeeding can still lose the excess weight they have gained, but it may not happen as quickly as women who breastfeed. 

Eating well during this period requires a few adjustments to general healthy eating guidelines. Each woman will require different amounts of foods providing key nutrients to support their individual needs. Age, weight, activity level, and metabolism all influence how much a woman will need to eat for optimum health and breast milk production. Women should consult a nutrition professional after pregnancy to help determine their specific calorie and nutrient needs.
 
A woman's hormones may be fluctuating after pregnancy, and altering the way she feels. Many women have postpartum depression (brought about by hormonal changes after giving birth). This can lead to craving foods with little nutritional value. It is important during this time to try to avoid "emotional eating," or rather, turning to food not because of hunger, but as a reaction to a certain emotional state. When experiencing food cravings, try to distract yourself. Pick up the phone and chat with friends, go for a walk, or read a good book.
 
Follow these simple tips to stay healthy and help lose the weight gained during pregnancy:

  • Eat a diet that includes dairy products, meat, eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Be sure to drink when thirsty.
  • Limit the amount of fats (most importantly saturated fats), foods with a high sugar content, caffeine, and alcohol in your diet.
  • Limit consumption of fast food. If you do go to a fast food restaurant, try to choose healthy options such as: grilled meats, small portions, salads with low-fat dressing, and milk or water instead of sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages. 
  • Eat foods high in fiber such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber-rich foods are needed for proper digestion and to increase your feeling of fullness. They will help you to eat less and consume fewer calories.
  • Try to avoid eating too many processed foods. Eat fresh or frozen foods whenever possible. Processed foods contain sodium, which can cause retention of fluids. Also, limit the amount of salt you add to your food while cooking. Fluids that are retained, make up some of the pounds maintained after giving birth. With time, the amount of swelling will decrease. With fluid loss, body weight will decrease.
  • Take a vitamin and mineral supplement, especially if you breastfeed your baby. Some women need extra iron. Be sure to discuss this with a health care professional.
  • Physical activity is also an important component of post-pregnancy recuperation. Women who were exercising during pregnancy can continue that routine, increasing the amount and intensity of exercise as they feel able. Exercising will help you lose weight more quickly and give you more energy.
  • Fad diets are not an option. These types of diets usually offer quick, unrealistic results. They tend to severely limit calories (frequently resulting in an imbalance in nutrients) and are not safe or healthy for women after pregnancy.

After you have a baby, give your body time to recover. Take advantage of this time in your life to make positive changes that will last a lifetime.
 
We hope you enjoy your new arrival!

*Dietitian

 

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