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Healthy tips help new moms lose baby weight safely

Tulsa World (OK)


July 25--With the newest addition to the royal family dominating the news these days, babies are on people's minds.

But along with picking names and decorating nurseries, most moms are also concerned with losing that baby weight after delivery. Whereas Kate Middleton will probably be looking like her old self in no time, the process usually poses a bit more of a challenge for most new moms.

Renine Stansloski had her first child a little more than a year ago and says she never had to worry about her weight before getting pregnant.

"I was a collegiate athlete," she said. "I never had to lose weight before."

So she didn't imagine that losing baby weight would be a problem.

"It was so much harder than I thought it was going to be," she said.

But Stansloski is nearly at her pre-pregnancy weight now and says it took her this long because she chose to lose weight the safe way -- through exercise and eating habits.

That's the method doctors recommend -- cautioning them to avoid diets and to reintroduce physical activity gradually.

Mitch Duininck, a family physician with St. John Family Medical Care, said the two most important things he tells his patients are to be patient and to have a plan.

Doctors say moms should remember that it took them nine months to gain the weight -- on average, the recommended weight gain during pregnancy is 20-30 pounds -- and that it will probably take as long or longer to lose it.

And with a new baby, time is often crunched, which means if you don't have a plan it's easier to let things like good nutrition and exercise slide.

"But it doesn't take longer to eat good food than it does to eat bad food," Duininck said.

Stock your home with healthy food -- including plenty of snacks -- so that you've got options.

William Po, chief of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the OSU Medical Center, said a balanced diet is important for new moms.

Po said new moms, especially those who are breast-feeding, should stay away from high-protein diets or other diets that eliminate certain kinds of food.

"Moderation in everything," he said.

Po said that studies have shown that women can lose about 2 pounds a month without affecting breast-feeding.

Duininck said a balanced diet should include fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as complex carbs like whole grain foods.

"Stay away from simple carbs like sugar," he said.

Po also recommends that moms take a multivitamin -- one that has calcium and vitamins B-12 and D, as well as iron for those who need it.

"Those are the kinds of vitamins depleted from the body for the baby," he said.

Physical activity is also important to helping moms lose the baby weight. But moms have to be careful not to start exercising too soon.

Po, who has been delivering babies for 18 years, said the process is like a "marathon" for women.

"After a marathon, patients are sore," he said.

He recommends that most women wait about two to four weeks before starting any kind of strenuous physical activity. Women who had a cesarean-section delivery should wait at least six weeks.

"You want that healing time for the muscles in the body," he said.

Plus, the changes that happen to a woman's body because of pregnancy hormones take about six weeks to reverse, he said.

"You kind of want that to settle down before starting to stress the body out with exercise," Po said.

Once you do get started, move gradually. Start with light aerobic exercises, like walking or water aerobics. Stretching and yoga activities are also good, Po said.

Stay away from lifting heavy weights too soon after delivery, especially if you had a C-section, Po said.

Po recommends 20-30 minutes of exercise a day but said that consistency is the most important thing. Even if you have only 10 minutes, do that every day.

And listen to your body, Po said.

"If you start hurting too much, it's a sign to back off and go slower," he said.

Po and Duininck said they know finding time to exercise with a newborn to take care of may be difficult, but they suggest moms take their children with them while working out.

Several fitness facilities allow children. And jogging strollers allow moms to more easily push their babies on a walk or jog.

Lauren Russell, who had her first child nine months ago, takes her son to a weekly yoga class at Natural Lullabies. Being able to take him with her has helped her fit the exercise time in her schedule.

And Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa, where Stansloski works, offers six-week Stroller Moms programs in the fall and spring.

Stansloski, who has participated in the programs herself, said they are an excellent way for moms to get in some physical activity as well as socialize with and get encouragement from other moms.

The free program started about two years ago, Stansloski said, and the next session starts Sept. 17.

"We really recognize how hard it is for women getting back in shape after having a baby," she said. Stansloski said programs like Stroller Moms, which meets only twice a week, are good because they give mothers a stable exercise routine without completely taking over their schedules.

And finally, doctors remind women that maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle before pregnancy can help the delivery and subsequent weight-loss effort go faster.

Nour Habib 918-581-8369


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