Today in the “Fit with Baby” series, Valerie, founder of Fitwell Training Solutions and I are picking up where we left off yesterday and talking about the “good” stuff, or how to lose the baby weight. Along with going over when it’s safe to exercise, the best exercises after having a baby, and how to stay motivated through fitness goals, Valerie will talk about (drum roll, please!) breastfeeding for weight loss.
Yes. We’re so going there.
Oh, and in talking about breastfeeding for weight loss, she’s going to address why some moms (moms like me) say they struggle to lose the all of the weight through breastfeeding and why some moms, moms like Rachel Zoe who are wearing size 0 pant suits within weeks (weeks!!) of pushing out a baby (ahem, I promise I’m not bitter), say they don’t.
So, without further ado. Here’s part 2.
Jessica: So, I think in our last interview, you did a great job of covering prenatal fitness. Now, I want to talk about postpartum. After the baby, when is it safe to begin exercising? And, what are some exercises that you’d recommend for moms after having a baby?
Valerie: The key is getting your doctor’s okay before resuming exercise. Most moms can start exercising within 6-8 weeks after delivery. For C-section moms I recommend taking 8-10 weeks postpartum to resume your regular exercise program. C-sections involve cutting deep layers of the abdominal wall so doing anything strenuous can slow down the healing process.
Jessica: And with exercising, and, of course, eating right, how much time should moms give themselves to lose the baby weight?
Valerie: I recommend that moms set a goal of one year to lose the baby weight. If she is overweight prior to pregnancy, it may take a little longer. Studies show that if a woman loses the baby weight within one year, she’ll avoid being overweight or obese after subsequent pregnancies.
Jessica: Now what if, even with eating the right foods and exercising, a mom still isn’t able to lose the weight? Or, maybe with breastfeeding, and two kids, and an annoying kitchen scale that will not move ever, she struggles with staying motivated (I promise I’m not talking about myself here, lol). What advice would you give these moms?
Valerie: First, don’t beat yourself up. Set realistic or S.M.A.R.T. goals and get a support system. A support system can be as simple as working out with another mom, joining a moms group, or signing up for an online support program. Keep a journal of your food intake and enlist the help of a registered dietician if you have special concerns such as breastfeeding, weight loss, or gluten sensitivity. Understanding your daily caloric needs is especially important if you’re breastfeeding. Start exercising 3 days per week and track your progress. If you hit a plateau, increase your exercise but don’t drop calories right away. As your body re-adjusts you may lose quickly at first and then hit a plateau, which is completely normal. Stay on track and if you need some motivation readjust your goals so you can achieve some small wins.
Jessica: Okay, so in your response, you referenced how breastfeeding plays a role in postpartum weight loss. For the record, can we talk about those breastfeeding celebrity moms who chalk their fast weight loss to breastfeeding alone? How come they and some other moms can do it through breastfeeding, while some moms, moms like me, struggle, particularly with the last 10 pounds. And, do you think that breastfeeding is a reliable way to lose the baby weight? If so, why does it seem to work for some moms and not for others?
Valerie: Darn those celebrities! I say that jokingly because celebrities in my opinion have an unfair advantage. They have lots of help and can dedicate a lot more time to exercise because they have to for business sake! I tell moms to avoid using celebrities as their baseline because it can get frustrating when the weight doesn’t just fall off!
Now back to your question…Breastfeeding is great for baby and mom! In the first few months after delivery, when the baby is nursing around the clock, a mom is a calorie-burning machine! Some studies say that a mom can burn up to 500 calories from breastfeeding. However, these calories are primarily in the first three months. Starting every three months, the body may readjust and the weight loss may slow a bit. If you’re eating the same amount of calories, your body may start to pack on the weight. On the other hand, if you’re not eating enough your body may experience a stall in weight loss. I think it’s important to balance the breastfeeding weight loss expectations with the right proportion of eating well, regular exercise, sleep (whenever you can!), and stress management. The combination of all these factors can make weight loss a lot easier.
Jessica: If moms would like to use breastfeeding to assist in their weight loss goals, how should they go about doing that without compromising their milk supplies?
Valerie: I have a checklist of to-dos when it comes to breastfeeding and weight loss:
1. Breastfeed or pump your breast milk prior to exercise.
2. Avoid doing exercise on the stomach for the first few months to avoid uncomfortable letdowns (been there and it’s not pretty!).
3. Stretch the chest area to avoid plugged ducts
4. Get plenty of rest to avoid getting Mastitis
5. Drink 10-12 glasses of water to account for milk production, water lost through exercise and optimal body function.
Jessica: What a great list! Thank you Valerie for this and for agreeing to share your wisdom with me and MNR readers! It has truly been a pleasure talking with you. I am a huge fan of your work and think most MNR readers will benefit from your voice as a mom in the health/fitness industry. Now, and, in closing, if any readers are interested in your services as a personal trainer, how should they contact you?
Valerie: Your readers can contact me at email@example.com or through my website at www.fitwellsolutions.com. Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my tips with your readers!
Valerie Merriweather is the founder of Fitwell Training Solutions. She’s a wife, mom to four kids, and lives in the Silver Spring, MD area. Her wisdom on health and fitness has been featured in articles appearing on She Knows and Discovery Health.
Don’t you just love Valerie! I’ve learned so much from this interview series, so I hope you have, too! Like yesterday If you have any questions for anything Valerie’s said in this interview or about anything related to postpartum weight loss, leave a comment on today’s post and she’ll answer you that way! Thank you again, Valerie!