Silver Spring, Md, April 12, 2012 – Ask any mother and she will almost invariably tell you that having a baby was one of the best things she’s ever done. However, with that bundle of joy also comes a bundle of extra weight.
If you are breastfeeding and are trying to figure out when to wean, consider this: your body burns 20 calories per ounce of breast milk you produce. That adds up! How many calories you burn a day breastfeeding depends on how much milk your little one is taking, but the range is usually somewhere between 200-600 calories a day, or 10-30 ounces of breast milk.
Since dieting is not advised for breastfeeding mothers, think about all those calories in terms of a work out. An hour of aerobics burns 250-400 calories depending on intensity, and walking for an hour burns about 180 calories for a 120lb person at a 3 mph pace (your body weight x .53 = calories burned walking per mile).
Carry your baby
Carrying you baby rather than plopping her down in an exercise gym or playpen is not only is good for your baby developmentally as she learns from watching you doing new things, but it also helps you burn off those baby pounds. Think of the extra weight of your baby as replacing those dumbbells. Increasing the amount of weight you are moving around, increases your calories burned. Carrying an infant burns upwards of 200 calories an hour.
Carrying baby in your arms is best for calorie burn because it builds muscle in your arms as well. But let’s be honest, it’s hard enough getting the chores done with a baby around, it’s near about impossible to do them with a baby in your arms. Use a baby sling or other baby carrier to get a similar benefit but be hands free. Just remember that tasks that require a lot of bending over, like cleaning the bath tub, are best left to when baby is napping.
Mother-baby exercise classes
Gyms have gotten smart. They realized that there was a large market they were missing that are just dying to lose weight, the new mothers. To that end, if you search around you are bound to find classes geared towards mother and baby. Sometimes these are yoga classes that use the baby in the different poses at your local yoga studio; sometimes you might find what you’re looking for in one of the classes offered by chains like Baby Boot Camp. Either way classes that include the baby as part of mom’s work-out routine are good for stay-at-home moms who don’t have other childcare options, or for the new mom who does work, but wants to spend as much time as possible with her baby.
Find a walking group
There are all sorts of support groups for new mothers, and a stroller walking group is a common one out there combines the camaraderie of getting together with other new mothers with exercise. Look for groups in your area. Frequently, such groups meet at shopping malls before the stores open and walk laps while pushing strollers and chatting. There are many benefits with this type of group: you get to meet other new mothers and children the same age as your baby, walking done inside doesn’t get rained out, and having a group expect you adds an element of peer pressure that can make the difference between you getting out of the house to exercise versus making excuses and staying at home.
Join a gym
This is something that is familiar to many people already, but once you have a baby it can be a challenge to get to the gym and onto that elliptical. That is, of course, unless your gym has child care. Not all gyms do, so shop around. The YMCA is a good option as well. They have individual or family memberships, and aside from having exercise equipment, many of their locations have drop-in child care services, called Child Watch, so that parents can use the facilities.
One of the downsides with a traditional gym is that the same rules apply to weight loss as they did before you had a baby – you have to get there and you have to use the equipment, and there’s no one to hold you accountable or miss you if you don’t show up.
Remember exercise alone won’t take off the weight, healthy eating habits also need to be part of your plan. But, if you set realistic goals for yourself and you make the effort, you can shed those baby pounds and be back into your favorite pair of skinny jeans before your baby is walking.
Follow Brighid on Twitter at @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times.
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