If all those images of svelte and shapely celebrity new moms have left you feeling like you never want to look in a mirror again, take heart! Here's some real-world advice on how to get your body back after pregnancy.
With so many high-profile celebrity moms snapping back from pregnancy with a model-perfect shape in almost no time, it sometimes seems as if they're jumping right from the labor bed to the treadmill. Take a look, for instance, at Katie Holmes, Angelina Jolie, Melania Trump, Heidi Klum, and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham -- whose record-time baby-fat weight loss has set the bar high for new moms the world over.
But is it realistic -- or for that matter even healthy -- to slim down after pregnancy with such lightening speed?
Experts offer up a resounding "No!"
"We don't have the kind of lifestyle that would allow for that kind of quick loss -- and the sooner women recognize that, the better they will feel about themselves, " says Laura Riley, MD, a high-risk-pregnancy expert from Massachusetts General Hospital and spokeswoman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Riley says celebrities don't generally gain as much weight during their pregnancy as the average woman, and, she says, "they have resources that the rest of us don't have after baby is born." This includes personal trainers, chefs, and nannies, all of whom allow the celebrity new mom to devote serious time to getting in shape.
"And, many of them also do crazy diets -- which is not an example anyone should follow," says Riley, author of You and Your Baby: Pregnancy.
Experts warn that when it comes to getting that post-pregnancy body back in shape, neither crash dieting nor a stringent exercise program is the way to go -- particularly if you've had a difficult pregnancy or a C-section delivery or are breastfeeding.
"The worst thing a woman can do is try too hard to do too much too soon -- if you do, you're likely to find yourself exhausted and discouraged and less likely to continue, and you'll wind up carrying that baby weight a lot longer, " says fitness trainer Sue Fleming, creator of the Buff line of workout DVDs including Buff New Moms.
When to Begin
Although most women say that diet is the quickest way to lose weight after giving birth, experts say a dramatic cut in calories is not the best way to begin - particularly if you are breastfeeding.
"You should be eating at least 1,800-2,000 calories a day while breastfeeding, and if you eat less you will not only be shortchanging yourself, you'll be shortchanging your baby. You can't produce quality milk if you are not eating enough," says nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy.