Many new mums are understandably eager to work off the extra weight of pregnancy as soon as their baby is born. The immediate postnatal period is not a good time to start dieting, however, especially if you are establishign breastfeeding. Trying to speed up weight loss whilst breastfeeding may mean that your milk will contain chemicals called ketones which are potentially unhealthy for your baby.
Breastfeeding mums need around 200 calories a day more than when they were pregnant in order to provide enough nutritional milk for their baby and meet their own nutritional needs as well. Eating sensily and exercising regularly together (remember that brisk walking is an excellent form of exercise) give you the best chance of returning to a healthy weight more quickly and safely. Many women will lose weight simply through breastfeeding, but this is not true for everyone.
Remember that it took nine months to put on the weight, so don't expect to lose it too quickly. As a rule, try to regard the first year as the time it may take you to get back to normal weight safely (Mottola 2002). Any celebrities you read about losing their weight in six weeks are not doing themselves or their babies any favours. A good goal is to lose no more than half a kilo or a pound a week. This is not only safe but will also help to ensure that the weight stays off.
The best way is to do some form of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming, as well as eating sensibly. Focus on fast movements using your arms and legs that make your heart beat faster. To get the most of out your workout, exercise at 60 to 80 per cent of your maximum heart rate. This means that you should feel a little out of breath but still be able to hold a conversation (Davies et al 2003).
Work out for at least 30 minutes of exercise - include exercises targeted at toning the muscles most affected by pregnancy - at least three to five days a week. If you weren't active during your pregnancy, start with a 15-minute programme and gradually increase to 30 minutes (Davies et al 2003). If you tapered off your fitness routine as your pregnancy progressed, begin at the level you stopped exercising at when you were pregnant and increase the intensity or time as you feel ready. If you develop any aches or pains, ask your GP for advice.