The Diet Detective: Everything You Should Know About Post Pregnancy Fitness, Part II

Is there any particular vitamin I may be lacking after pregnancy?

"A 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin D deficiency was widespread among new mothers, even when they had been taking a prenatal supplement. Lack of vitamin D is associated not only with poor bone health but also with multiple sclerosis and depression.

New mothers should ask their doctor about vitamin D testing," says Eileen Behan, R.D., L.D., author of the best-selling Eat Well, Lose Weight While Breastfeeding. Also, once they begin to menstruate again they need to be sure they're getting enough iron to ensure blood health and prevent iron deficiency anemia, she adds.

I heard giving birth and breastfeeding depletes your calcium.

Both strain a woman's calcium levels. "In fact, if you don't get enough calcium in your diet during pregnancy, the growing fetus may take what it needs from your bones. Unfortunately, far too many women are not getting enough calcium, whether they're pregnant or not," says Wider. To be sure they're getting enough women should eat plenty of low-fat calcium-rich foods such as low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and foods such as kale, bok choy and broccoli, and/or take a calcium supplement if they need it.

How do I balance weight loss versus milk-production requirements?

According to Somer the key here is doing it gradually. "Prior to pregnancy the weight-loss goal could be as high as 2 pounds a week. After pregnancy, your weight-loss goal should be only 2 pounds per month (for most women who have gained the recommended 25 pounds during pregnancy and who were at their desirable weight prior to pregnancy) and no more than 1 pound a week for overweight nursing mothers who use a combination of diet and exercise to shed pounds (by exercising, the woman doesn't need to cut calories as severely).

Whatever your weight goal, add 5 pounds for the extra tissue your body retains while breastfeeding. So, if you ultimately want to lose 20 pounds, aim for no more than 15 pounds now. The final 5 pounds usually drop off when you stop nursing."

Does exercise affect milk production?

According to Druxman, "regular, sustained, moderate-to-high-intensity exercise does not impair the quality or quantity of breast milk. There are a small number of cases of exercise-induced increases in the lactic acid concentration of breast milk resulting in decreased infant suckling due to a sour taste. However, feeding the baby prior to exercise should negate any potential problem, as any lactic acid that does accumulate in the breast milk should clear in 30 to 60 minutes post-exercise."

How many calories do I burn carrying my child around?

About 211 calories per hour (if you weigh 155 pounds).

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate, author of the best seller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), Breaking the FAT Pattern (Plume, 2006) and Lighten Up (Penguin USA/Razorbill, 2006) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions. Sign up for The Diet Detective newsletter free at

Copyright 2008 by Charles Stuart Platkin

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