I see a lot of moms in my office who would like to lose weight and get back into shape faster. Most of them are either being too hard on themselves or someone who should be supporting their wonderful mothering is being to hard on them.
Nursing babies “cost” about 1000 calories per day so breastfeeding is one of the most efficient ways to make sure that the extra fat and water added during pregnancy are transferred to the rightful owner.
Nursing moms, and almost everyone else, need about 1800 calories/day to “get by” and much less than that is not healthy. Here are a few tips for getting into shape safely and a little bit faster:
- Eat healthy foods. (All together now, “duh.”) This really is overlooked, though. Emphasize nutrient-rich foods which are not “calorically dense.” Avoid greasy snack foods and so-called healthy foods like cheese and whole milk. Eat more fruits, grains, pastas and beans and avoid red meat and salads laden with dressing.
- Try to build some outdoor activity into your day. (“In my spare time and with my spare energy??) Somehow. Walk with your baby every day and try to get a jogging stroller added to your wish list. Slings make carrying your baby more efficient and burn more calories. In my experience, even moms who really didn’t have the time and energy to exercise a little, feel just great when they somehow do it.
- Drink more water. Avoid soda and juice. These are truly empty calories.
- Combining 100 to 200 fewer calories per day of higher fat foods (that’s just a couple spoonfuls of dressing or a piece of cheese) with 20 to 40 minutes of a good walk with your baby (200 calories out) will lead to exactly the weight loss and conditioning you want. Add in a little formal or informal yoga and stretching and you’ll get there even sooner.
- Above all, be nicer to yourself. This is not a contest nor a sprint. You are an extraordinarily important and extraordinarily busy person: a Mother. Get into shape at a pace that suits you, not the rest of the world.
I see most of the couples in my practice prior to their delivery. I like to do a prenatal discussion fairly early but most people come in during the last month or two of pregnancy. One reason I’d like to talk earlier is to discuss the best pregnancy diet. There is excellent medical and common sense evidence that the best nutrition during pregnancy gives the best outcome. Specifically, moms with any family history of allergies should avoid dairy products. There is not much disagreement in the medical literature about the benefits of a dairy-free diet to the developing fetus. Allergies are increased by prenatal exposure to this allergenic protein. Whatever you do, avoid the outdated advice to increase your milk intake during your pregnancy.
Avoid alcohol and other noxious chemicals. We know that medium to large amounts of wine, beer or liquor can seriously damage a baby and produce Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It’s now recognized that lesser amounts of alcohol at critical stages of pregnancy lead to “Fetal Alcohol Effect.” If we know this, why would you drink at all during pregnancy?
The warning signs in super markets about swordfish telling pregnant women to limit the number of servings per month would lead me to a similar conclusion: Why eat any mercury-containing fish at all?
Stay active, eat as well as you can focusing on meals with lots of fruits, veggies, reasonable amounts of healthy protein, avoid alcohol, decrease or eliminate dairy products to have the healthiest pregnancy and the healthiest baby.