Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

How to lose the post-baby bump

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
July 25, 2013 -- Updated 1520 GMT (2320 HKT)
Prince George takes his first steps in public as his mother, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, holds his hand Sunday, June 15, at a charity polo event in Cirencester, England. Prince George takes his first steps in public as his mother, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, holds his hand Sunday, June 15, at a charity polo event in Cirencester, England.
HIDE CAPTION
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
Prince George, the royal baby
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Women may need to wait six weeks after birth to exercise again
  • Weight gained during pregnancy affects how long it will take to lose it
  • There are some exercises mothers can do with their babies

(CNN) -- When the Duchess of Cambridge revealed her newborn son to the world, she also unashamedly showed off her prominent post-baby bump. Moms around the world praised her for not hiding what women's bodies look like after giving birth.

"Kate shows what a real mum looks like -- and natural is beautiful," Siobhan Freegard of the Netmums website told the Daily Mail.

Unlike many celebrities would lead us to believe, a woman rarely emerges from childbirth free of her extra pregnancy pounds. Even women who gained a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy will have some to lose after going home from the hospital, experts say.

Immediately after childbirth, the uterus is still the size it was when a 20-week fetus was inside, says Dr. Gregory Fountain, OB/GYN at Emory Johns Creek Obstetrics and Gynecology near Atlanta. It takes about six weeks for it to shrink down to its normal size, he says.

Women typically gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy, and a lot of it does come out during birth, Fountain says. Depending on the size of the baby, the amount of fluid and the weight of the placenta, the amount lost in childbirth generally equals 10 to 12 pounds.

Prince meets the public

But it's common these days for women to gain more weight than they should during pregnancy.

Fast facts about Duchess Catherine

Women who gain too much weight will, as you might imagine, need more time to lose the weight after the baby comes into the world, Fountain says. Everyone's metabolism is different, too, so that will play a role.

Doctors usually recommend women refrain from vigorous exercise until about least six weeks after delivery for noncomplicated vaginal and cesarean births, according to Fountain. Some women take longer, depending on the complexity of the delivery.

After giving birth to her first child, a woman will typically have a laceration, muscle injury or soft tissue swelling associated with the delivery that will take time to heal, Fountain says. He recommends walking as the main form of exercise during this time.

Talk to your doctor about what time frame is best for you, however. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who exercised during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery may begin again as soon as they feel ready, even within days of delivery.

Stop the exercise that you're doing if you start to feel any pain, experts say.

A realistic goal for post-pregnancy weight loss is somewhere between three and six months, Fountain says, but that all depends on how motivated the woman is and how much time she has to devote to fitness.

There are activities built into motherhood that can help, however.

Breast-feeding burns about 500 calories a day, so it helps women lose weight faster than those who use formula, Fountain says. Some research has indicated physical activity can make breast milk taste sour because of an accumulation of lactic acid, according to the Mayo Clinic. This problem may be avoided by feeding the baby or pumping milk before a vigorous workout.

What's in a royal baby name?

The baby can also help you stay fit, says Simone De La Rue, a fitness expert and trainer who has worked with celebrities and models.

"We always have a joke -- rather than lifting a 3-pound weight, you lift the baby," she says. Rocking or lifting the baby can be great for the biceps and upper body. Dancing with the baby can both soothe the baby and get you moving, too, De La Rue says.

You can also push the baby around in a stroller when you want to go for a walk, notes Desiree Nathanson, a fitness and nutrition expert in Atlanta.

Motivation is hard for new mothers; they're exhausted and often feel like they're the only ones going through this, De La Rue says. Joining forces with other moms can be a big help.

A look back at royal baby clothes

It's important to be patient and ignore tabloid reports of celebrities who instantly bounce back into shape after having a child, Nathanson says.

"It's going to take some time," she says. "It's just going to depend on your body, so you just have be patient and realize that you've just given birth to a human being and that's what you need to focus on."

New mothers also have a hard time fitting exercise into their routines of responsibilities of child care; don't feel pressure to find a large block of time, De La Rue says.

"It's hard to find an hour, so if you can find 10 minutes, do 10 minutes of arms or 10 minutes of cardio, and later on in the day when the baby is snoozing, you can try and take another 10 minutes for yourself," she recommends.

Tell us your story!
We love to hear from our audience. Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter and Facebook for the latest health news and let us know what we're missing.

De La Rue tries to ease back into abdominal work with clients who have recently had babies since the area is still sensitive.

She starts them off with low-impact cardio to get the heart rate going, then moves into arms and legs. She often waits until four or five months after a client has had a baby to focus on abdominal work, just to make sure everything has healed.

The "plank" yoga position could be held while your baby is on the floor underneath you lying down, she says. You can try it on your elbows or hands, but if that's too difficult, try it on elbows and knees or hands and knees. Make sure your hips are slightly tilted back so that your abs are engaged and your shoulders are retracted.

Your lower back should also get some attention, Nathanson says. The ''Superman" or "swimmers" position, in which you lie on your stomach and lift your arms and legs a couple inches off the ground, will strengthen your back muscles.

Focusing on how awful you may think you look post-baby is counterproductive, Nathanson says.

"Try to stay positive, and move, and focus on the baby."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1629 GMT (0029 HKT)
Photos: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge embark on a Royal Tour.
April 7, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
He can't even walk yet but Prince George took a momentous step on Monday in what's set to be a lifetime of royal duties.
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
The first official images of Prince George are released, taken by his grandfather Michael Middleton in Berkshire, England.
July 23, 2013 -- Updated 1627 GMT (0027 HKT)
It's a boy! Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and husband Prince William welcomed their first child - baby son.
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 2022 GMT (0422 HKT)
Think you know all you could ever want to about royal babies amid all the excitement about the new arrival? Well did you know this...
July 23, 2013 -- Updated 1546 GMT (2346 HKT)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first baby, due in mid-July.
Let us least spare a thought for the unfortunate newborn caught, through no fault other than his ancestry, in the global spotlight, Simon Hooper writes.
July 5, 2013 -- Updated 0942 GMT (1742 HKT)
The royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace September 12, 1937 after the coronation of King George VI. King George VI (R) stands with Princess Elizabeth (C) and Princess Margaret.
Britain's royals are a pretty traditional bunch when it comes to picking baby names -- so what are the chances of a Queen Ella or King Terry?
Confused by who's linked to who in the royal family? Explore the Middleton and Windsor branches of our interactive family tree.
July 10, 2013 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Here's a look at some interesting statistics about royal births in Britain.
July 5, 2013 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
Royal baby penny
There's a treat in store for anyone in Britain whose baby arrives on the same day Catherine delivers a royal heir -- the gift of a silver coin.
July 22, 2013 -- Updated 2040 GMT (0440 HKT)
All eyes have been on the Duchess of Cambridge since she and Prince William announced they were expecting a baby.
July 4, 2013 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
The world watched when they were married in the wedding of the year -- now all eyes are on William and Kate ahead of their new arrival.
June 25, 2013 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
As well as being wonderful news for the royal couple the new baby will have positive implications for the future of the UK monarchy.
July 24, 2013 -- Updated 2302 GMT (0702 HKT)
Prince William has spent decades in the public eye. Follow the royal's life in pictures, from baby to proud father-to-be.
June 25, 2013 -- Updated 1407 GMT (2207 HKT)
Changes to the law mean Prince William and Catherine's new baby will be heir to the British throne, whether it is a boy or a girl.
October 20, 2013 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
Catherine has proved quite the fashionista since being catapulted into the limelight thanks to her appearance in a university catwalk show.
Get all the latest news, photos and videos on Kate and William's baby and the rest of the royal family.
ADVERTISEMENT