Exercise and Nutrition: How to Bounce Back After Pregnancy

Proper weight gain during pregnancy played an important role in your baby’s development. Several of the pounds you gained were lost at birth, including the weight of the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid. But many women find that the remaining pounds tend to stick around, and their body takes a while to regain its shape. That’s where regular exercise and good nutrition come in.

Your Postpartum Workout Plan

Starting or resuming an exercise program after giving birth offers several benefits:

  • Helps you lose pregnancy weight and return to your pre-pregnancy shape

  • Tones muscles that may be weakened in childbirth

  • Gives you more energy, helps you sleep, and helps you manage stress

  • Improves how you feel about yourself and your body image

There’s no set guideline for when to begin working out again. Start when your doctor says it’s safe, and go at the pace he or she recommends. Keep in mind that your body needs to recover from pregnancy and heal from childbirth. Also, the relaxation of ligaments due to hormones may increase the risk of injury. So begin with simple exercises and build to a more active routine. Walking is one of the best ways to get your heart rate up and tone your body.

Many women enjoy the commitment and camaraderie of a postpartum exercise class at a gym. Others prefer to work out at home with their own equipment. Wherever you exercise, be sure to drink lots of water, especially if you’re breastfeeding. You may want to schedule your workouts for after a breastfeeding session if your breasts are very full.

Eat Well for Both You and Baby

After birth, good nutrition helps you to be healthy and active—and enables you to care for your baby.

Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, a healthy and balanced diet is important. Most lactation experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers should eat when they’re hungry. But many new moms may be so tired or busy that food gets forgotten. So, it’s essential to plan simple and healthy meals that include choices from all of the recommended groups from choosemyplate.gov.

Extreme dieting and rapid weight loss can be a health hazard for you and for your baby if you’re breastfeeding. It can take several months to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. Focus on cutting out high-fat snacks, and concentrate on a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits that are balanced with proteins and carbohydrates.

Along with eating balanced meals, breastfeeding women should increase fluids. Many moms find they become very thirsty while the baby is nursing. Try keeping a pitcher of water and even some healthy snacks beside your bed or breastfeeding chair.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian MD

Date Last Reviewed: 1/17/2013

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