This is the second of a two-part series on fitness and nutrition for new mothers. This column is about nutrition and weight loss.
According to Jennifer Wider, M.D., author of The New Mom's Survival Guide (Random House, 2008), women should gain 25 to 35 pounds (including weight of baby, placenta, etc.). However, the reality is that women are lucky if they put on only 30 pounds, says Erin O'Brien, creator of the exercise DVD Postnatal Rescue. "You're supposed to consume no more than 300 extra calories per day when pregnant...that's a banana with peanut butter on it," she adds. Unfortunately many women see pregnancy as a license to eat.
What's the best way to lose weight after giving birth?
A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who were most likely to lose birth pounds walked at least 30 minutes per day, avoided trans fats and watched less than two hours of TV daily.
How can I "eat healthy" when I have no time to cook?
"Your free time is scarce, and you are too sleepy to fuss with gourmet meals, but you can still eat well and lose weight by following these two rules," suggests Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy (Holt, 2002). "Stock the kitchen with ready-made quick fixes (baby carrots, sliced oranges, tubs of low-fat yogurt, bagged lettuce, etc.) and always take food with you when you leave the house (apple slices, string cheese, etc.).
In addition, include two fruits or vegetables at every meal and one at every snack." Keep in mind that the important nutrients needed postpartum are calcium, folate, iron and protein.
How many more calories do I need each day if I'm breastfeeding?
An additional 200 to 300 calories per day.
What about hydration?
"Breastfeeding requires roughly 2 additional quarts of water per day, and exercise increases this need. Avoiding dehydration is very important in breastfeeding women, as it can decrease the volume of milk produced," says Lisa Druxman, creator of Stroller Strides and author of Lean Mommy (Center Street, 2007).
She recommends that breastfeeding moms drink at least 4 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise and grab a big glass of water every time they nurse their baby. Also you should note the color of your urine--the paler, the better.
What are good foods to help your energy level after being up all night with a newborn?
"Not sugar or coffee. I found eggs and whole-wheat toast really picked me up in the morning. I also made sure I ate small meals throughout the day so I could keep up my energy levels," says O'Brien. Also try nuts, they're easy and quick to eat and are a good source of protein.