How to lose weight after pregnancy
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After 40 weeks of pregnancy, hours of labor and countless sleepless nights with a crying baby, getting back to your pre-baby workout routine can seem impossible—but it's not! Take the first step with advice from Bob Greene.
Welcoming home a new little one is an amazing experience, but it's not always easy. As a father of a 3 1/2-year-old and an 11-month-old, balancing a growing family with workouts and other responsibilities is a constant juggling act. And of course, it's even tougher on the mom, whose body has undergone drastic changes during and after pregnancy.

But this doesn't mean you can't get back into shape after delivering. In fact, studies show that moderate exercise can not only help you shed those post-baby pounds, but can boost your mood and improve your fitness level. And if you're breastfeeding, don't stress: Moderate exercise doesn't seem to affect milk production, according to research.

But to get back on track after baby, you have to keep these four things in mind:

Be Patient
You gained your pregnancy weight gradually—over the course of nine months—so don't expect to lose it right away. While it's not uncommon to drop 10 pounds shortly after childbirth, the rest may come off more slowly. Not to mention, many women may not be able to return to their original routine right away, particularly if they have had a C-section. Remember, a C-section is major surgery.

Plus, your hormones are still fluctuating. These things can make getting back on track more challenging, but when you do succeed, what a wonderful triumph it will be. Make sure you check with your doctor before you begin exercising...and aim to build up slowly. For instance, if you used to go for a 30-minute walk twice a week, start with once a week for 10 or 15 minutes, or as long as you can comfortably go. The next week, try to increase the time. Once you get back up to 30 minutes, add another day of walking, and so on. Stay focused and be patient. With hard work, you'll get there!

Get Ready to Work
Once you're able to work back up to your pre-pregnancy fitness level, you'll probably find that you'll need to increase the frequency, duration and/or intensity of your cardio sessions even more to continue to lose weight. For new moms who don't have a lot of extra time, intensity becomes a key factor. If you exercise at a more vigorous pace (ideally, a 7 or 8 on the perceived exertion scale—the point at which you can still carry on a conversation, but would prefer not to), you can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than working out at a more moderate pace for a longer period.

Stay Flexible
With a new baby to care for, you may not have the time or ability to stick to your regular workout schedule. Staying in shape may now involve being a little more creative. For instance, you may have to break up your workouts, so instead of one long one, you do several mini-sessions during the day, like when baby's napping.

And I'd recommend taking advantage of whatever resources you have at home. Instead of trekking to the gym to take an aerobics or spin class, simply pop in a fitness DVD. Or, rather than going for your regular run, put the baby in the stroller and take a brisk walk. Look into baby joggers too! I like BOB strollers. (I have no connections with the company; the fact that we share the same name is purely coincidental!)

Be Realistic
Even if you do take off most or all of the weight, it's possible you won't be able to reclaim your original figure or get back down to your exact pre-pregnancy size. Remember, it's not just about fitting into a certain dress size, but living a healthy life—and, of course, taking the time to enjoy your new little bundle of joy.

For more great fitness advice, check out

Do you have any tips for getting exercise while caring for newborn babies? Share your best advice in the comments section.

Keep Reading:
Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen answer 5 common pregnancy questions
4 foods for a healthy pregnancy
Bob gives a pregnant doctoral student a workout makeover
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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