Many women gain extra weight during pregnancy, especially around the hips and stomach. Some women are not able to lose it naturally after birth. Weak abdomen and pelvic floor muscles are also common after nine months of being pregnant.
Here are five steps to help you lose post-pregnancy belly fat, minimize that waistline and get you back to your figure pre-pregnancy.
- Cardiovascular exercise
As a mother, it’s important to be healthy, full of energy and alert. Doing cardiovascular exercise is not only going to help you lose that stubborn belly fat, but it will help you feel less tired and more energetic for your baby. There are lots of ways to get cardio exercise into your routine:
- Walking briskly whilst you take your baby out to the park is a good start
- Invest in a rowing machine or exercise bike so that you can jump on it whilst your baby is asleep at home
- Jumping jacks and jogging on the spot whilst watching TV is a good way of saving time and money
- Spend time playing games with your baby
Take it easy for the first few weeks of the exercise as your body has just been through a lot of stress with giving birth. You can increase the duration and frequency of exercises as soon as you feel better.
- Work on core strength
Building up those muscles in the abdomen and pelvic floor are an important next step. Three good ways of doing this:
There are many good pilates and yoga videos around. However, if you have not done those exercises before, you should sign up for a class where the instructor can check that you are exercising correctly. At home, you can always tuck your feet underneath the bed or sofa and do some stomach crunches in between household chores.
- Focus on nutrition and eating well
The key here is to eat small portions regularly – try five meals a day to regulate your appetite. What to eat will vary from person to person. However, this is not the time to go on a strict diet as normal. Your body will require nutrition to recover from the trauma of giving birth. Try to eat as many fresh vegetables and fruit as possible. Stick to lean meat, especially fish and if you eat starchy carbohydrates make sure you choose whole wheat. Eating foods higher in fiber will help you to lose that belly fat after pregnancy and maintain gut health.
- Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding burns more calories than pregnancy itself – 500 calories per day as opposed to 300. Breastfeeding your baby is a good way of providing nutrition for your child and also reduce your own weight without starving yourself or your body of the nutrients it needs.
- Sleep well and stress less
Your body has been through major physiological changes during and after pregnancy. To recover from this requires a lot of downtime – time alone by yourself, resting and taking it easy:
- Try not to stress about losing weight
- Focus on hobbies that you normally do such as reading a book
- Treating yourself to a warm bath with essential oils before going to bed on a regular basis
- A malted hot drink like Horlicks or Ovaltine is good before bedtime
It is important to get a good night’s rest as this will affect your eating habits during the day.