Go Easy on Your Post-Baby BodyPoor celebrity moms. Each time one of them announces that she’s “over the moon” about her impending baby, gossip magazines rabidly begin to document her growing baby bump and weight gain, with subsequent post-pregnancy toe-tapping over how long it’s taking mom to shed the residual weight. At least regular moms get to enjoy the process in relative anonymity. Then again, celebs have it pretty good, says mom Ali L., noting the teams of people who help Hollywood moms return to their svelte physiques just weeks after having a baby. “They must have a trainer, a chef, and a nanny, otherwise there’s no way it would be possible.”
Even if you have the means to hire a crew of experts to whip you back into shape after you’ve had your little one, how soon can you safely exercise? And how healthy is it to fixate on fitting into your jeans just weeks after your pregnancy? Jaime Wood, certified personal trainer and the fitness manager at Virtua’s William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness, says it’s okay to start moving after your doctor has cleared you. “Most of the time, this is six weeks after delivering, but it could be different for different women,” explains Wood, noting that women who have had a C-section often need a few more weeks of recovery. “Always start back up slowly. No need to rush into things and make yourself sore – you do have a little one to take care of when you get home.”
Each woman carries so differently, and their bodies react differently to the changes of pregnancy, says Wood, so moms should cut themselves some slack and stop themselves from falling into the trap of comparisons when it comes to shedding that baby weight. “There is too much pressure, in general, on everyone to look a certain way. As a mom, just remember that you created an amazing human being and carried and nourished that baby for nine months,” says Wood. “This definitely takes its toll on your body. You may not bounce back to your former body, but you should be happy with how you are now.”
A healthy attitude and patience are vital to every new mom’s sanity, when it comes to both weight loss and sleepless nights. “I was lucky. After gaining around 40 pounds, I think about half came off almost right after the birth,” says Ali L., who explains that the rest started melting away as she nursed her infant son and took lots of long strolls on the beach. “I did not have any pressure to lose it; I just was eager to fit into my non-maternity clothes someday.”
Once you’re cleared to exercise again, you want to make sure you’re doing cardio to burn belly fat, says Wood. Walk with your baby in a stroller outside for some fresh air or at an indoor mall on cold or rainy days. Strapping your growing baby into a carrier or sling while you workout – or even just to carry him around the house – can make for an intense workout. Wood recommends abdominal exercises such as crunches, bicycle crunches, and yoga plank poses for toning.
While motherhood leaves moms with little room for self-care, eating right and sleeping whenever and as much as possible can keep you energized to lose the baby weight. Just remember slow and steady wins the race. “My motto was nine months on, nine months off,” says Ali L. “Now I weigh less than when I got pregnant two years ago.”
Updated March 15, 2017