The New Mom’s Guide to Losing Baby WeightArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
You’ve just brought that little bundle of joy home with you and you’re ecstatic (and a little sleepy). Being a new mom is equal parts joy and fatigue, but it’s probably the most amazing experience you’ll ever have in your life. But what about that other “bundle?” The one that’s keeping you in your maternity jeans and tops, the one you’re inadvertently “cuddling” every time you sit down? The one that can still serve as a shelf? Let’s be blunt: The baby weight.
About 47 percent of women come home from the hospital with both their baby and excess baby weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that’s just those who gained weight over and above the Institute of Medicine’s recommended weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds (11 to 20 pounds if you’re overweight or obese when you get pregnant.)
Worse, a 2015 University of Chicago study found that a year after giving birth, most women were still carrying around at least some of their baby weight, even those who gained only 32 pounds when they were pregnant. Almost half were still 10 pounds from their goal weight and almost a quarter were still 20 pounds overweight a year later. Pregnancy is actually considered a contributing factor to long-term obesity.
But enough of the bad news. The good news is that Nutrisystem can help you lose the weight you want the way top experts recommend: Steadily, safely, and long-term. You’re going to have to develop the same patience with weight loss that you’ll be acquiring as a mom. Slow and steady wins this race!
Here are three important rules to follow when getting rid of the extra weight:
1. Don’t assume that breastfeeding alone will help you get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes.
Studies are mixed on whether breastfeeding helps you lose the baby weight. One 2014 study published in the journal, Preventive Medicine, found that women who breastfed exclusively for at least three months lost about 3.2 pounds more than those who didn’t—nice, but not enough to make a major difference.
In fact, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re eating for two so you may need to increase your calorie consumption to maintain your supply of milk. You need about 650 calories daily to provide the amount of milk your child needs from birth to six months when you’re breastfeeding exclusively, says the American Academy of Dietetics.
To follow the Nutrisystem plan, you can’t be breastfeeding exclusively. Your baby must be at least four months old and eating some solid foods.
2. Don’t expect instant results.
Just as you had to wait nearly a year for your baby to arrive, your weight loss will require patience. You need time to adjust to your baby, breastfeeding and your new role as a mom.
Your goal, says the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), should be “gradual weight loss,” particularly if you’re breastfeeding. A significant weight loss would require you to slash your calories dramatically. That can leave you even more fatigued than you already are and, if you’re breastfeeding, affect your milk supply.
The ARHP recommends that you get at least 1,800 calorie a day, depending on your breastfeeding schedule, activity and factors such as how fatigued you are and whether you’re experiencing bone loss. That’s right in line with the Nutrisystem program. Nursing moms get a special meal plan, consume more calories than in the regular program, and take a prenatal vitamin. That’s what makes Nutrisystem a safe and sensible choice when you’re eating for two.
Also recommended for new moms: Make good nutritional choices for both you and baby. Stick to healthy foods—whole grains, lean protein, high-quality dairy, vegetables and fruit—to make sure you and your little one are getting good nutrition, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ADA). Limit fatty fish like tuna and salmon to 12 ounces a week because of its mercury content. Nutrisystem’s prepared food is nutritionally balanced and made without dangerous additives. You’ll also learn how to make perfectly portioned healthy meals for yourself, which are called flex meals.
Major bonus: Most Nutrisystem meals are no- or minimal-prep – and that includes the ones you make yourself! That’s extra time you have for you and your baby. The high-quality, nutritious ingredients can also give your flagging energy a boost. Plus, you eat every two to three hours, just like your little one! For hundreds of flex meal recipes, click here! >
If you’re worried about how dieting will affect breastfeeding and your baby’s development, don’t. Studies published in Nutrition Reviews have found that dieting while breastfeeding—as long as you keep weight loss to about half a pound a week—doesn’t affect a baby’s growth
3. Get some exercise.
No need to park your baby in daycare to take a walk. Pack your little one into a jogging stroller and take a jaunt every day—or even a jog when you’re up to it.
It will help. Pushing the stroller adds a little resistance to your workout that could accelerate your weight loss and help you firm up.
A study of 16 people presented at a 2016 meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine found that pushing a stroller with two hands burned five percent more calories, pushing with one hand burned six percent more calories, and pushing it ahead of you and then catching up with it (called “push-and-chase”) burns eight percent more calories than running without the stroller.
Bonus: All that fresh air (and light) may help your baby sleep better. A study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that babies sleep longer when they’re exposed to plenty of light in the afternoon.
Like dieting, exercising while breastfeeding is safe, says a study published in The American Journal of Nutrition. In fact, losing weight via a sensible diet and aerobic exercise is preferable to weight loss by diet alone since just dieting can reduce a mother’s lean muscle mass.