You have spent 9 months growing a human being, and he or she has finally arrived. Congratulations! You are a Warrior.
But now that there is not a human being inside of you, you are starting to get the itch to get your body back to where it was before pregnancy. Completely understandable.
But before we go on with the meat of this post, I want you to pause and consider something: are you thinking about losing weight soon after your child’s birth because of outside pressure? Do you see certain models hitting the runway weeks after giving birth, or read the headlines about So and So’s amazing stomach? Are people in your life making you feel inferior?
If you answer is yes to any of that, I want you to close out this post right now, and go cuddle your baby. Mama, no one should be making you feel badly right now. You are amazing, and your body is amazing, and I want you to be able to embrace that before worrying about losing the weight.
So, if you are still reading, I hope you are able to say that you are working on losing the weight for YOU—because you want to get back to feeling like yourself, to feeling like you are back in your own skin after sharing your body for 9 months. But now the big question:
“How do I work on losing weight without messing with my milk supply?”
This is a serious concern, obviously, for the health of your baby. You don’t want to decrease your milk supply and end up not feeding your little one enough unintentionally. So, first point I want to make is that you should wait until at least 2 months after birth to make any changes to your diet, in order to make sure your milk supply is properly established.
So, assuming you are 2 months postpartum, and you are looking to lose weight for YOUR sake, let’s dig in to the details of the best way to go about losing the weight:
- Eat small amounts throughout the day instead of 3 larger meals. Have your 3 main meals be smaller, and include 2-3 snacks, or what I like to call mini-meals, in between. The key here is that those mini-meals should be exactly that: small, balanced MEALS, not just a snack of potato chips or chocolate. Smoothies are a great option!
- Try to choose foods mindfully that offer some sort of nutrients. A small amount of treat food throughout the day is okay (and maybe necessary for sanity), but for the most part try to stick with foods that have something to offer at every meal or mini-meal. Set yourself up for success by stocking your cabinet with nuts and healthy bars, and your fridge with easy-to-grab fruits and pre-cut veggies with dips.
- Be aware of your beverage calories. Obviously, DRINKING PLENTY OF WATER is key (and absolutely necessary if you are breastfeeding!), but also watch the calories from other drinks. They can add a lot of calories without any nutrition, or really filling you up at all, sabotaging your efforts without your even realizing it.
Okay, what about cutting calories? This needs its own section because it is key. Ready? Make sure you are eating ENOUGH calories! As I have mentioned here, your body needs to feel secure in its calorie intake in order to shed fat. So, when you add in the work of producing milk, drastically cutting calories may end up not only damaging your milk supply, but also back-firing on your weight loss goals! You need to be eating good food throughout the day to maintain calorie intake, and keep your hormones stable.
If you take a good look at your food intake and can honestly day you flat out eat too much food, or too much of the wrong foods (calorie dense, nutrient poor), then start restricting calories slowly to allow your body to adjust to the change. Reduced calories should come first from the foods that aren’t offering any benefit to your body. Don’t cut out eggs or whole (preferably grass-fed or organic) dairy in an effort to cut calories. Don’t cut out what your body needs, cut the junk!
One final point, moving away from the diet and into fitness: move regularly, of course. Walking daily is the best option post-partum. When you have your clearance to exercise (and remember, we are talking 2 months post-partum here), try to work in some weight-bearing activities to encourage muscle growth over fat accumulation. This will help the calories you do eat go where you want them. Check Pinterest for fun mommy-and-baby exercises, or look for a group in your area. Just be careful of your core, NO SIT-UPS! It needs plenty of time to heal, with gentle exercises. You can check out my Abs board on Pinterest for some safer core exercises.
To sum up: Lose weight for YOU, and no one else. Eat plenty of REAL food throughout the day, and drink lots of water. Move regularly, and include some weight-bearing exercise. And remember to give it time! Rushing will only cause problems for your body or your milk supply, so slow and steady!