The gentle approach to getting your body back postpartum

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Pregnancy can really take a toll on the way we feel about our bodies. On one hand, it's hard not to be amazed at all the remarkable things the female body can do to grow and sustain life. But on the other hand, that growing belly and ever-increasing bra size sure can do some damage to our self esteem. If you're worried about how you're going to lose the baby weight and feel like yourself again once baby arrives, we've come to the rescue. With some gentle, thoughtful and healthy planning, you can avoid being in the 25 percent of women who hold onto at least 10 pounds of baby weight at one year postpartum. 

Relax

You're not a movie star or a Victoria's Secret model, so there's no reason why you should bounce back to your pre-pregnancy body mere weeks after delivery. The first few months of motherhood are exhausting, exhilarating and sacred. You'll never get this time back, so don't squander it counting calories, bashing your body and staying up until the wee hours of the morning working out. Take a moment to re-frame your thinking: Your body has just done a miraculous thing. Be gentle with it. Soak up this time with your baby. Focus on healing from childbirth and give your body the rest and nourishment it needs.

Know the facts

The majority of women lose half their baby weight within six weeks of giving birth – and that's without taking up any additional exercise. Between baby, amniotic fluid and the placenta, you'll even shed weight during birth itself. While you will leave the hospital looking about five or six months pregnant, nursing and healthy eating naturally contribute to gentle weight loss. If you do plan on breastfeeding, understand that calorie restriction will affect your milk supply. Doctors advise healthy eating that provides both you and baby enough calories and nutrients to nourish and thrive.

Timing is everything

At minimum, depending on your birth experience, exercise is off limits in the first six weeks of motherhood. Your body needs time to heal and your doctor or midwife likely won't give you the green light to work out until your six-week checkup.

Go slowly

When you are ready to get moving again, don't push yourself. Start slowly and remember that your body went through some incredible changes during the last nine months. The exercises you may have done easily pre-pregnancy may be a bit more difficult for a while, especially any abdominal work. Take it easy on yourself and build your strength back up little by little.

Small changes

Focus on making small changes, such as eating more plant-based meals and whole grains. Make sure you're not cutting calories if you're breastfeeding. Aim to exercise for 30 minutes each day, pushing your little one around in the stroller. Yoga, Pilates and gentle cardio classes can spice up your workouts and give you much-needed variety.

Are you concerned about being able to lose your baby weight? What are some ways you're planning to stay healthy and get back on track once your son or daughter arrives? Let us know your plans in the comments below.

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