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Getting in Shape With Baby on Board

What new moms need to know about easing back into exercise.

If You’re Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding should not affect a mother's exercise regimen, and moderate exercise in lactating women does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk, Morelli says.

And, according to the ACOG, moderate weight reduction during breastfeeding is safe and does not compromise infant weight gain. Morelli adds, "Women should also wear a bra that fits well and gives plenty of support."

For women who engage in intense exercise, the lactic acid levels (a byproduct of exercise) may not be palatable to the baby, Morelli says. "If baby doesn't feed as well right after exercising, consider feeding the baby right before exercising. This also will likely make the breasts more comfortable during exercise."

Also keep in mind it may take a while for you to see the results of your weight loss efforts if you're breast feeding. Your body holds on to your weight when you're breastfeeding, Berk says. "It may take six to seven months before you see the results of your weight loss efforts."

New Mom Fitness Programs

If you're just starting out, you may want to consider programs such as Stroller Strides and Baby Boot Camp, which allow moms to exercise with their babies.

They're good for two reasons, Atlas says. "They get you out of the house for adult interaction and allow you to spend time with other women in your same situation." Many programs are available on DVD as well.

If you're home with the baby, try doing your own thing. Wii, Dance Revolution, and fitness DVDs burn calories in fun ways. "Have fun," Berk says. "Dance around the living room with your baby."

Signs You May Be Overdoing It

Starting a vigorous resistance training exercise program too soon may result in complications, including prolapse, in which the uterus drops, Atlas says. Increased abdominal pressure during heavy lifting increases the risk. "Typically, this occurs most often in thin women who smoke and have poor nutrition," Atlas says. If you've had a laceration or episiotomy and you do too much too soon, the episiotomy could break down. Fortunately, if that happens, it won't likely turn into a long-term problem, he says.

When abdominal muscles are cut during cesareans, they remain very tender after birth. If you exercise too vigorously and disrupt this area, it could lead to a hernia, Atlas says. "If you're doing abdominal exercises and this area feels tender, wait another few days or a week and try again."

If you were on bed rest for a long time prior to delivery or had twins or other multiples, this may also impact your body’s ability to exercise. Do it slowly, adding intensity over a long period of time. Always consult with your doctor first if you had these special circumstances.

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