Forget keeping up with the Kardashians
Celebrities like Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian make it look easy. It seems almost like one day they’re pregnant, and the next, they’re back in the limelight with a body that looks like they never had a baby at all.
Many people wonder how they do it—and more importantly, how they can get results like that for themselves.
“Seeing celebrities burn off baby weight in record time makes it seem like that’s the norm,” said Geisinger obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Evan McClennen. “These images set unrealistic expectations and can negatively influence body image. Most people should not hold themselves to the same standards as celebrities—especially because many times it’s their job to be fit and look good; they are able to devote more money, time and energy than most people.”
That said, getting back to your pre-baby body may be an important long-term goal for you, even if you’re not a supermodel.
Here are four tips for getting your body back after baby:
Take it easy
Your secret weapon to getting your pre-baby body back may be easier than you thought. In fact, it may be better to do nothing at all for a while.
Your body starts trying to repair itself after giving birth. Taking it easy lets your body do its job and helps you regain strength for more serious exercise down the road. Work to maintain a positive body image and remember that it’s all a normal part of the process.
“After giving birth, your body needs to regain equilibrium,” said Dr. McClennen. “To do that, you’re going to need lots of sleep and relaxation. You need to let your muscles repair themselves before you do any serious exercise. For most patients, I would recommend six weeks of rest before doing any kind of strenuous physical activity. If you had a C-section or difficult delivery, I would recommend waiting longer. Because everyone is different, it’s best to talk to your doctor when you’re thinking about exercising.”
Walk it off
After taking the time to recover, start with some low-stress exercise like walking.
Walking around the neighborhood is a good place to start. According to the Surgeon General, walking one to two miles with a stroller in 30 minutes burns 150 calories. Start by walking around the block, and if you find that it doesn’t cause bleeding or pain, slowly increase your walking distance each day.
Use breastfeeding to your advantage
One of the many benefits of breastfeeding is that it can help you shed pounds. Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day and stimulate hormones that help your uterus—and your belly—return to its normal size.
Treat yourself with healthy habits
Once you’re back on your feet and exercising, it may be tempting to go on a diet.
“I advise patients to avoid dieting right after giving birth,” said Dr. McClennen. “You need to focus on keeping your body well-nourished so that it can repair itself. Avoid empty-calorie foods and fad diets. Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels steady. This will stabilize your metabolism and mean less of your food is stored as fat.”
Try filling your diet with lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure to get as much sleep as possible, too. When you’re well-rested, you’re less likely to binge on high-calorie and high-sugar foods for energy.
Dr. Evan McClennen, DO, is an obstetrician/gynecologist. She sees patients at Geisinger's East Mountain Clinic, 1155 E. Mountain Blvd., Wilkes-Barre, and Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre, 25 Church St., Wilkes-Barre. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McClennen or another Geisinger obstetrician/gynecologist, please call 570-275-6401 or visit Geisinger.org.