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Pregnancy & Parenting

The Real Scoop on Dropping Post-Pregnancy Pounds

By Kristen Mucci-Mosier

Created: 09/06/2012
Last Updated: 09/06/2012

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"I can't believe you just had a baby!"

How many times have you heard someone (and perhaps that someone is you) voice those words after seeing a new mom just weeks after she has given birth. Magic, we think - those pounds just slip off. Is this a realistic expectation? Celebrity trainer Tracey Anderson doesn't help the cause, as she shares in a recent interview that she lost her post-baby extra weight in just six weeks, and she believes that's realistic for most women.

Read More: Healing After Childbirth

Here's the real scoop about what's happening six weeks after labor:

Your body is just beginning to recover from the arrival of your baby. In fact, your uterus is only now returning to its pre-pregnancy size, and your abdominal muscles, which have been rather lax, are now regaining some of their tone.

Other elements of the body's healing process just after labor: The perineum, the area between your vagina and rectum, will likely need time to recover from soreness post-childbirth. Your breasts may become engorged and painful as you begin to breastfeed. And if that wasn't enough, some women experience hemorrhoids from pushing during labor. (And obviously, those who deliver by cesarean section have a whole different set of physical side effects to recover from.)

Emotionally, your hormones are beginning to normalize, but the stress, fatigue and sleep deprivation that can follow labor and birth can last much longer, and require ample self-care - more of a rest-when-you-can approach, not necessarily a workout-when-you-can one.

What real moms have been overheard saying at six weeks after pregnancy: "I'm still trying to find time for a shower," or "Sleep? What's that?"

Read More: Potspartum Exercises: When and How to Start
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The most important thing to remember is that just as every woman is different when it comes to dieting and weight loss, every new mom is different too. There is no golden standard, and it's certainly not six weeks! It may take six months or more to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.

What you can do:

Listen to your body and talk candidly with your health care professional about when to resume your workout routine. Whether it's two weeks or two months, make sure to do what feels right to you. Walking and swimming are great gentle workouts to start with.

Aim for a healthy diet of whole foods, including fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein.

Breastfeed: If it's possible for you and your baby, breastfeeding makes it easier to lose those pregnancy pounds (you can burn up to 500 extra calories a day).

Read More: 10 Tips for Losing Your Post-Baby Belly

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