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The Post-Baby Bump

by Jane Wangersky | July 30th, 2013 | Pregnancy

women in gymNow that the Duchess of Cambridge has publicly demonstrated that a woman doesn’t immediately lose all the weight after the baby is born, let’s hope no one else experiences what I did when I was in the hospital for my first childbirth: A dad from our prenatal class, running into me in the hall, asked, “Have you given birth yet?”

Let’s review some numbers: The average woman gains 25 to 35 pounds while pregnant, and only loses about 10 of them during delivery. So yes, you can almost count on still looking pregnant after the birth.

The weight needs to come off gradually. Breastfeeding can help with this, but as with any attempt at weight loss you’ll also need to eat healthily and get exercise.

Of course, while you’re breastfeeding, healthy eating is best for the baby as well as you. It can also help you avoid constipation, which some women experience after birth. To put together a good eating plan for yourself, check out the USDA’s interactive program for this — and talk it over with your doctor.

You should start exercising regularly but gradually. The U.S. Army holds mandatory physical training for women soldiers coming back from maternity leave, but also advises them to start exercising at home in the first week after birth. A sample program for the first week includes short sessions of Kegels (remember them? Do them faithfully and you should be able to control your bladder within six weeks after birth), stretches, ab exercises, and five to 10 minutes’ daily walking for cardio. Download the full program here.

If you’re a runner, you’ll probably find that running doesn’t feel the same when you start it up again. Not only that, but there are some changes you’ll need to make to get the most out of running — and avoid injury. Check out my earlier article here.

A “mummy tummy” is nothing to be ashamed of — but it’s not something you’re stuck with either.

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