how to lose weight naturally after pregnancy

Bringing a new life into the world is one of the most joyous times of a woman's life. However, losing the weight after giving birth is a struggle as old as motherhood. While some of the weight will dissipate naturally, especially if you breastfeed, many women are left with a bit of bulk that requires effort to lose.

The average woman can expect to gain 25-40 pounds during pregnancy. While you'll lose about 10 of those pounds merely by giving birth, that will still leave you with ten or more pounds you'll have to work to shed. 

After giving birth and getting settled into your new routine as a mom, you might be bombarded with pills, potions, programs and gimmicks that promise you fast and easy weight loss in exchange for your hard-earned cash.

Don't believe any of these "drop the baby weight fast" guarantees. Instead, commit to shedding the weight naturally, healthily and in a way that you can maintain long-term. Here's how to do it.

How Long Does It Take for Your Stomach to Go Back to Normal After Giving Birth?

Many women who take a look at their midsections in the mirror in the days following their pregnancy feel horrified by what they see. Despite giving birth to their children, they can still appear pregnant.

The good news is not to panic when you see yourself shortly after delivery. Your uterus begins to shrink to its normal size in six to eight weeks and fat cells that developed during pregnancy will shrink as well, provided that you're on a healthy fitness plan.

Breastfeeding helps to speed the process along, since it burns major calories. However, if you're unable to breastfeed for whatever reason, don't panic or feel guilty.

While breastfeeding does help you to shed the baby weight, it's totally possible to lose the fat without it.

How Can I Tighten My Stomach After Having a Baby? 

The truth of the matter is that trying to flatten a post-baby stomach and trying to flatten a stomach that's become undesirably large from excess caloric intake really aren't all that different. It comes down to three simple principles.

First and foremost, there's an old saying that's always worth repeating: "Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym." This refers to the fact that a tight and toned stomach is primarily the result of proper diet and cardiovascular workouts.

Core-strengthening workouts like sit-ups and planks strengthen the abdominal muscles, but that definition won't be visible if it's obscured by a layer of fat.

The most important thing is to get on a diet plan that allows you to reduce your caloric intake without feeling deprived or weak. New moms need energy, especially if they're breastfeeding and exercising. Use an online calculator to determine how many calories you should eat a day in order to shed excess body fat.

When it comes to a specific diet, it's important to remember that everyone is different. Those who respond well to a higher carbohydrate intake don't need to jump on the low-carb bandwagon to see results.

However, those who struggle with sugar cravings and bloating when they consume carbohydrates can give a low-carb plan a try to boost their results. Ultimately, however, it all comes down to reducing one's overall caloric intake.

Cardio is important because it helps to burn calories and keep your metabolism functioning at its peak. You don't have to kill yourself doing insane workouts. Something as simple as hiking or swimming 45 minutes a day can make a significant difference.

But if you respond well to high-intensity classes like spinning, feel free to add them into your routine. What's important is that you find something that you like and can stick to consistently.

While diet and cardio have the most impact on toning the stomach, that's not to say that ab exercises like sit-ups, planks and twists aren't helpful. These moves will sculpt the muscle underneath the fat, which means you'll have great visible definition once you've shed the pounds. However, they're not necessary each and every day. Add in 10 minute ab workouts 3 or 4 times a week.

How Much Weight Will I Lose After Giving Birth?

Aside from losing the initial 10 or so pounds that disappear immediately after delivery, how much weight you lose after is very much something you control. Many women grow frustrated and claim that it's impossible to lose weight after giving birth, but this simply isn't the case.

It's important to be patient with yourself when it comes to shedding baby weight. Remember, it took you nine months and a huge biological change to gain the weight, so it's not likely to disappear after two weeks of working out and eating right.

Change takes time and patience is important. However, if you stick to a caloric deficit and workout regularly, you can expect to lose the baby weight over the course of three to six months. Disregard the magazine covers you see about actresses who lost their baby weight in under a month; not only do those women have access to personal trainers and plastic surgeons, but they also have nannies who can watch their children while they exercise. Be realistic and don't be overly hard on yourself.

Can Your Body Go Back to Normal After Pregnancy?

There will be some minor changes that will be permanent, such as stretch marks along the areas where you gained the most weight, which is typically the thighs and stomach.

While they may be red and extremely unsightly in the weeks following your delivery, they will reduce in color and appearance over time.

Using a hydrating moisturizer on these areas can help them to heal and diminish.

However, the changes in your physique absolutely can be diminished with the right diet and fitness plan.

Many pregnancy experts often talk about a "fourth trimester," which refers to the three months after pregnancy where your body adjusts to breastfeeding and starts to return to its normal shape.

While this fourth trimester will naturally help you to return to something more closely resembling your previous physique, you won't get the results you want unless you help it along with the right diet and regular cardiovascular exercise.

Take time to heal and be gentle with yourself during the fourth trimester, but don't neglect your own health and wellness.

Do Hips Stay Wider After Pregnancy? 

The good news is that you're in control when it comes to shedding the body fat you accumulate during pregnancy. The bad news, however, is that your hips might expand in a way that could potentially be permanent.

When a woman with a small frame becomes pregnant, the ligaments in her hips can expand to prepare her to be able to accommodate her fetus and be able to deliver without injury. Whether or not the hips shrink back to their original size depends on the woman in question; some women will see their hips shrink, while others will find these results to be permanent.

However, just because your musculature has widened slightly doesn't mean that you still can't achieve an enviable figure. The world is full of large-hipped women who maintain gorgeous physiques by keeping their body fat percentage low. While you might move up a pants size, you can still work to achieve attractive and healthy results through diet and fitness.

How Can I Heal Faster After Giving Birth? 

Many women find that they cannot jump into an exercise routine after giving birth because their bodies haven't completely healed. Of course, it is never advisable to engage in any sort of physical activity if you think it could harm you and the most important part of your post-baby health journey is fully recovering from labor.

Many women find that they cannot jump into an exercise routine after giving birth because their bodies haven't completely healed.

Of course, it is never advisable to engage in any sort of physical activity if you think it could harm you and the most important part of your post-baby health journey is fully recovering from labor.

The most important thing is that you listen to your doctor or midwife and follow his or her instructions. They will be the ones who guide you through your physical recovery, especially in the first month after delivery. This is not a time when you should be attempting strenuous cardio workouts.

Instead, stick to the advice and guidance laid out for you by your doctor.

Once you've physically healed and all stitches have been removed, you should continue to do things that aid your body in recovering. Remember, giving birth can be a huge shock to the system and you won't "snap back" right away.

However, moving can be one of the best ways to recover after that initial month. Light physical activity is an amazing way to stretch out sore muscles, get the blood pumping and to help feel like yourself again.

If you're exhausted, try a brief 15 minute walk around the block. It's hugely important that you listen to your own body and follow your internal cues. Only you will know when you're truly ready to engage in a challenging cardiovascular workout.

During your recovery time and your first month of breastfeeding, nutrition can have a huge impact in how quickly you recover and how well you take to breastfeeding. Stick to your calorie goals and fill your meals with vitamin- and mineral-rich foods that will help to energize and heal you. As tempting as it might be when you're tired and feeling under the weather, avoid fatty or sugary snacks. They'll provide an emotional release in the short-term, but will just make you feel worse in the end.

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