Getting back into shape after pregnancy

"I'd like to know how new moms have got back in shape. My baby is 9 months old already and I've put on a few more pounds instead of losing it. I'm tired of my `jelly belly.' Thanks for your ideas."

"Take your baby outside every day for a walk. It's great for both of you: The baby will nap better and get fewer colds. Fresh air seems to toughen up the lining in the nose and lungs. Not only will you lose weight, but you won't feel like you're stuck in the house all day. Walking gave me a break so I could also deal better with the frustrations of motherhood. In the winter I pull the baby in a box sled. My dad just nailed down wooden boards in a box shape onto the sled. For those few days of the winter when it is bitter cold, you can go walk at a mall, office building or community center. It took me about 2 years to lose all the weight, but slow loss is better for you."

"I started going to the gym! I found out I had a lot more energy than I realized and felt better in general and the pounds started melting away. If you can afford it I'd highly recommend it, plus you can meet others in the same boat and encourage each other."

"Try having the changing table, etc., upstairs so that you need to climb those stairs frequently all day. Put on your favorite music and dance a little each day while holding the baby. Music is good for the soul too!"

"My mom feels that I got my shape back after I had my baby because I was only 20 when I had my baby. Some tell me that the first six weeks are critical because your body is trying to settle back into a norm. I was so busy with my baby that I rarely found time to fix a meal, so I ate quick, easy snacks like bananas."

"I used a combination of three things to get rid of my `baby fat.' I cut down on sweets, took lots of walks and I taped an exercise program and do them when my son is napping. It only takes a half hour and it really does work!"

"Go for a walk. I would walk 2 to 3 times a week for about half an hour to 45 minutes. It does not take long to go for a walk. It also gives your husband some time to spend with

your child. The time alone is also good for the mind. I also keep carrots and celery on hand for snacking. I try and eat at least three fruits a day. Between the vegetable and the fruits, I always feel like I'm eating. Drink lots of water and fruit juice too. I always treat myself to something fattening. Like a cookie, a handful of M&M's, half a candy bar, etc. This keeps my sweet tooth satisfied and then you don't feel like your dieting. I gained 35 lbs. while pregnant and have lost it all."

"Exercise with your baby. Also, look into an aerobics class one or two nights a week - it's a nice break to get away for some personal time."

"The most natural way to lose weight is to burn off more calories than you are taking in. I have found that long walks pushing the baby in a stroller are great for us both. Don't let cold weather frighten you from spending plenty of time outdoors! I've been taking our 22 month old out for at least an hour per day since he was born. He loves it, and has caught very few colds! Your baby will have to learn to like winter weather some day, why not start now? Make sure, of course, that you're both bundled up in layers and that the baby has a good, warm hat. Also, drink plenty of water when you finish the walk, and use a sunscreen. Another bonus of taking long strolls with our baby has been meeting lots of other parents and kids. We live near a parkway, which has lots of walking paths, so there are usually a few other moms or dads out with their babies when we go out. It's a fun way to make casual friends. P.S. - Are you still breast feeding your baby? If so, be sure to keep your caloric intake high enough for you and baby. And don't worry about your weight till you're done nursing."

"Give yourself a break! A few extra pounds is no big deal."

"I try to walk and do aerobics but I've also become more comfortable with a different body - a nursing, fuller, and more healthy as a whole `mom' body! Having the perfect figure is just one more expectation we tend to put on ourselves. Relax and celebrate the belly that nurtures your baby!"

"I taped an aerobic show on ESPN (Bodies in Motion) which I could do whenever it fit my schedule, nap times, early morning, etc. I also took my son and dog for long stroller rides through our neighborhood. They enjoyed the walk and I got some exercise. I also watched my diet. I didn't really calorie count but instead watched the amount of fat I ate."

"There were several things I did to get back in shape after my son was born. I went swimming or took an exercise class/swimnastics class one evening a week (which gave my husband some time alone with the baby, too. I also would hold my son and `dance' to music, and I purposely put the changing table upstairs so I'd get exercise going up and down stairs many times a day. It paid off."

"I gained 70 pounds during my first pregnancy (a big mistake). First of all, breastfeeding helps, but the biggest thing is to not put pressure on yourself. You're a mom now, not a giddy, skinny school girl. The weight will come off if you exercise and watch your diet."

"I work out with a Nordic-Trac in my home at least 4 or 5 times a week for 20 minutes. My girls sit in their bouncy chairs and watch me `ski' with the radio on. It has really helped me regain my shape."

"First of all, you have to be patient. I'd give yourself a good year and a half to get back into `shape' and shed extra fat that one's body lays down during pregnancy. Some of us don't have the luxury of a fitness club with child care. I simply take in any exercise when I can get it. A quick 20 minute run when my husband is home, a brisk walk pushing the stroller, jumping rope, aerobics on TV, push-ups, sit-ups on the floor with the kids, etc. A variety of exercises is best so do what you like to do. If trying to lose weight is a goal then aerobic exercise will work the hear and large muscle groups and burn a lot of calories. Conditioning exercises will help tone up and strengthen specific muscle groups. Make it fun and you'll stick with it."

"I gained 40 pounds with my 4th child. I had successfully lost the weight after my 3rd child by cutting out all desserts, sweets, and as much of the fats as I could. When I nurse I crave fats and I love chocolate which doesn't help in losing weight. I get all the junk food out of the house. I just throw it away if I have to. Then I fill up my cupboards with healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables. I do not cut down on the amount of good food I eat. I just get rid of the junk. And I exercise by walking as often as I can."

"I got together with other moms who have little one's and we took turns working out at each others' houses. It's a good way to build a support network and shape up at the same time!"

"I used a stationary bike and sit-ups to get back into shape after each of my 4 children. I read the newspaper or a book while I'm riding."

"Losing weight after baby takes work. After my first child, people told me the weight would `fall off' so I kept waiting for it to happen. I learned after that it does take lots of exercise. Find something you like to do and stick to it!"

"My son is almost two years old now. It took me less than three months to lose 40 pound. It sounds great but let me explain. First off, I nursed, which really helps. Also I had a traumatic labor and delivery that affected my appetite and I couldn't eat. Actually, you should take in more calories nursing than pregnant! My medical student husband told me the break down. There is the baby's weight plus the afterbirth which is usually around 12 pounds. Then there is 6 to 8 pounds of water weight from increased blood volume. In my case that left 20 pounds of fat. Correct weight loss is a pound per week and I lost double that. It should take six months to lose all of the weight because it took 6 months to gain. Technically, a woman shouldn't gain weight the first trimester, or at least not more than three pounds, which would be a pound a month. In your situation you could try a healthy weight loss program so you can lose a pound a week, and that way you won't gain it back. You will be doing it healthy and slowly."

"Find a copy of the YMCA pre & post-natal exercise book. There are wonderful ideas for a variety of exercises. If you can find an exercise `club,' join for a while as it keeps you motivated to keep going when others are around."

"Breastfeeding takes it off me. I also ride a stationary bike and cut out fat. Also chasing 3 kids helps."

"When I had my 6 1/2 year old, I was in my old clothes the day I got home from the hospital. Within a week my tummy was flat and hard again. Honest! With my second baby, (she's 8 weeks), I gained 20 pounds during the entire pregnancy. I had a tubal ligation the day after her birth. I still have 10 pounds to lose, and she only weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz. Figure that one? I found that I have tightened my flab thus far simply by doing the Kegel exercises from pregnancy, and by doing `crunches.' Lie on the floor (with or without your baby), bend your knee so your feet touch your bottom. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor about an inch and hold it for a count of five. Repeat 10 times to start. Good luck!"

"My first daughter was two years old before she slept through the night. My second daughter is eight weeks old and has been sleeping through the night since she was a month old. It is simply a difference in babies. Yours will sleep through the night when he's ready, not when you, your relatives or anyone else thinks she should. My first was breast and formula fed, that also doesn't' make any difference when it comes to sleeping. As for `helpful' advice, remember that not all advice is bad advice, you have to pick and choose. It is very helpful sometimes. And you don't want to alienate anyone. If I get a lot of advice from a certain person or some advice I do not agree with, I just tell that person very candidly that I do not agree and then I say why. I've also used the third party approach like, `I told my mom that I want more time alone with the baby. Don't you feel I'm entitled?' It works!"

"I don't know, but I can sympathize. I find it hard to be polite when my mother-in-law tells me I should stop breast feeding and give my 3 month old son formula. Her reason? So that she could feed him."

"I know where you're coming from. I had the same problem but everyone told me that's what happens when you have kids and I should accept it. Why should I? Having kids doesn't mean getting heavier with each one. I finally woke up when my baby was 15 months old and I was so unhappy with my extra 21 pounds that I couldn't stand it. I tried doing it on my own but everything failed. I ended up joining a weight loss center (only because I saw for myself what it did for 2 close friends). However, no matter how much weight you lose, the only way to get rid of that bump in your tummy (the one that stretches your belly button so a quarter fits in) is to do those dreaded sit-ups. Trust me; I've lost all my extra weight now and am proud to say that I am back into my pre-baby size 6 - all in time for my 30th birthday. What a happy day it was. P.S. - The longer you put it off the lazier you'll get."

"I found that playing `airplane' with my children really helped. Put the baby on your shins as you lie on the floor and bounce. Go up, go down, etc., as you make `airplane noises. The baby loves it, and it's good for the stomach muscles."

"Keep cut up carrots and celery in water in the fridge. Then, when you snack, at least it's lo-cal and healthy."

"For both of my girls (6 & 12), I left my car in the garage as much as possible and walked everywhere I could to run errands. I made 2 or 3 trips for groceries per week instead of one huge one. It's great fresh air for baby and a change of pace. You'll also get to meet your neighbors and become more familiar with your neighborhood."

"Though your body will never be the same as before, you can lose your excess weight. the best way is to follow 2 simple rules. First is to cut down on fat (mostly desserts and fried foods). Secondly, don't eat anything after 7 p.m. Since fats have twice as many calorie per gram as carbohydrates and proteins, cutting fat will yield results quickly. Also, calories eaten after 7 p.m. tend to be stored in your body as fat - mainly because you do little in the evening to burn off food eaten late in the day."

"My baby is now 12 months. I ride a stationary exercise bike 5 mornings a week. I put the baby in the play pen while I ride the bike and he usually ends up falling asleep, the noise of the bike relaxes him. I lost my `jelly belly' after one month of exercise."

"I made a weight/exercise chart and put it on the refrigerator. It was a positive reminder."

"Water aerobics! Classes are offered through community education. They usually meet 1 or 2 times a week. The evening classes are especially good because your husband (friend, etc.) can watch the little one. It's a great workout and very soothing to be in the water. Try it!"

"One thing I would recommend highly (for future pregnancies) is to eat healthy and stay fit when pregnant. This makes it much, much easier after the birth to lose the weight."

( What advice would you most like to give about experiencing life with a new baby?"
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