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Get Your Body Back After Pregnancy

Dedication and patience are key to losing postpartum baby weight and looking like your pre-baby self again.

When to Begin continued...

Riley says she frequently advises patients to not even think about dieting until after their first six-week visit.

"If you can lose a couple of pounds before then, that's OK, but you really don't want to cut your food intake dramatically during these early weeks. You need the energy, and you need the calories for breastfeeding," she says.

Good news: Breastfeeding burns calories. It can help mothers lose extra weight gained during pregnancy.

But what if you're not breastfeeding? Somer says it's OK to watch your caloric intake, but never aim to lose more than a pound a week.

"Pregnancy is not unlike running a marathon every day for nine months. You have really put your body through the ringer. So even if you ate well, several nutrients are still likely to be compromised. You need this postpartum time to restore your nutritional status and your energy," she says.

After Pregnancy: Working Off the Pounds

While postpartum dieting may be off-limits for awhile, exercise is highly recommended. Experts say it can not only help you get your body back, but also increase energy and may even reduce risks of postpartum depression.

In a paper published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, experts reported mounting evidence suggesting that exercise not only benefits depressive symptoms in general but pointed to two studies indicating it may offer benefits specifically for women with postpartum depression.

To this end, many groups, including American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have not only significantly loosened the reins on the number of activities a new mom can safely do but have also begun promoting exercise as a key factor in the health of new moms.

"There used to be many more 'don'ts' about exercising after pregnancy, now there are many more 'dos,'" says Fleming.

But how do you know if you're ready to begin an exercise program? ACOG recommends that you check with your doctor before starting, especially if you had a complicated pregnancy or delivery. That said, most experts agree you are free to begin a mild workout as soon as you feel up to it -- and you can keep up with the activity level.

"That's key, being able to keep up with whatever program you start. If you can't then either the program is too rigorous, or you're just not ready. Exercise should make you feel better, not worse," says Riley.

Post-Pregnancy Workouts: What Works!

Whether it's within six days or six weeks of delivering, ACOG experts say one of the easiest ways to begin a postpartum exercise routine is by walking. And you can even get baby in on the fun! Indeed, one of the more popular forms of organized new-mommy exercise involves walking stroller workouts.

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