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New Parents: Nutrition and Exercise After Baby

New Parents: Nutrition and Exercise After BabyBecoming a parent: 7 tips for postpartum fitness and nutrition 


After a baby, you may be ready to get back to your pre-pregnancy fitness level or weight as quickly as possible. But, when it comes to postpartum fitness and nutrition, it’s OK to ease back into things more slowly. 

From making sure you’re healing to questions about activity levels, use these tips to make sure you’re getting back in shape in a safe and healthy way. 


Make time for rest and healing

Pregnancy and delivery are major events for your body. During your first weeks postpartum, your fitness and nutrition goals should focus on giving your body what it needs to heal. This may include a simple walk around the block to boost your mood or a specific effort to eat a healthy snack in between feedings and diaper changes. 

If you had a cesarean section or complications during delivery, you may need to limit certain activities for a time. In general, it’s best to wait until after your postpartum checkup with your OB GYN before you make any big changes to your exercise or diet routine. 


Set the right expectations

Despite what you may see on TV or social media, most moms don’t immediately bounce back to their pre-pregnancy shape. While you’ll likely lose some weight in the first weeks following delivery, getting back in shape after having a baby is often a process. The U.S. Library of Medicine says new moms should plan to lose weight over the next six to 12 months. 


Find balance in your diet

A healthy postpartum diet follows similar guidelines to an overall healthy diet for adults. Try to include a mix of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says to avoid fad diets and focus on a balanced diet instead. In addition to picking nutrient-rich foods, it’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the day. 


Know how breastfeeding affects nutrition


If you choose to breastfeed, you’ll have additional nutritional needs. Breastfeeding moms often need up to 500 extra calories a day. You may also want to avoid drastic changes in diet or weight. Losing weight too fast might make it harder to keep up your milk supply.

New moms also wonder if they should stop eating specific foods while breastfeeding. While some babies may become fussy or gassy after you eat certain foods, there is no set list of foods that are off-limits to breastfeeding moms. The La Leche League says that most moms can eat whatever they like. If you think a particular food is causing a reaction, talk to your doctor before you cut out an entire food group. 


Get prepared before you work out


When you’re ready to start exercising again, make sure you get prepared. Warm up, start slow, and bring along a water bottle to stay hydrated. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests breastfeeding moms feed their baby or express milk right before working out to avoid any breast discomfort. A supportive bra is a must as well. 



Try a mix of exercises

After your initial postpartum recovery, most moms can follow the general exercise guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for all adults. These guidelines suggest a total of 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity activity, like walking or water aerobics. Because pregnancy can affect your core muscles, many moms find it beneficial to include exercises focused on core strengthening and stabilization too. 


When in doubt, ask your OB GYN

In the end, if you’re unsure about the safety of a postpartum activity or diet, talk with your OB GYN. New moms with certain health conditions may need additional time to recover. Your OB GYN can give you expert guidance on how to best support your postpartum health. 


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