Weight loss after Baby: When Postpartum feels like Postmortem

For all the new mom’s out there—we know you’re obsessed with that little bundle of joy! But if you’re not obsessed with how cute your butt is looking, you’re not alone. Most moms’ go through their baby’s first two months in a tired haze. The third month rolls around and you have decided to shed those extra pregnancy pounds. Somehow it’s your baby’s six month birthday and you’re still rocking sweats, wondering when you will slim down. Stop wondering and channel your inner Kourtney Kardashian-Or Kendra Baskett if you’re blonde! Here are some tips to get you on your way to the post baby body you want:

Track what you’re eating – Its amazing how many mothers come into the office with pages of notes (or excel spreadsheets for the more tech savvy) detailing how long their baby slept, how many ounces of milk their baby drank, and of course- how much their baby poops. You may laugh, but you know you did it! If you can record all that, you can certainly record what you’re eating. This is important even for non-postpartum patients trying to lose weight because it gives you a sense of where you are spending your calories. Eating a granola bar, a microwave meal, and an orange  for the whole day may have you looking like LeAnn Rimes very quickly, but it’s unsafe and never permanent. It is important for you to get carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables during the day. If you’re finding yourself consuming a ton of one food group after reviewing your food diary you can make the necessary changes.

Breastfeeding- Like holiday shopping, it can be a great experience or the bane of your existence. No matter what, try several times before giving up, and then try again. If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding, ask your doctor to recommend a lactation specialist or give you some tips on how to make the experience go more smoothly. Several studies have shown that breastfeeding helps women lose more weight in their postpartum period. One study in particular demonstrated that women who exclusively breastfed for 6 months held on to an average of 1.1 lbs 3 years later, compared to women who never exclusively breastfed who held on to an average of 10.5 lbs after 3 years. 10lbs! That’s basically the weight of another baby! So if you can, really try to breastfeed. Not only does it increase bonding with your baby, but it’s also fewer bottles to wash and it may help you get back in your skinny jeans in no time.

Stay hydrated- Drinking plenty of water and fluids can help you slim down, and will also help with milk production. Having enough fluids on board will help keep you full, keep your skin looking great, and help your body process food efficiently. Water is necessary to help fiber get processed through your body and avoid constipation. If you are exercising you need to replete the water you are losing when you sweat. If you have trouble getting in enough water or don’t like drinking it, try different alternatives. Get a water bottle that you fill up in the morning and just aim to finish it by the end of the day (depending on how big it is of course, or you may need to fill up during the day). Go for other liquids like tea if you don’t like the taste of plain water. You are already going to be feeling exhausted while taking care of your new baby, but being dehydrated can make fatigue and exhaustion much worse, so really make it a priority to fuel your tank with fluid.

Sleep - We all know that getting a lot of sleep with a new baby is about as likely as an Hermés Birkin bag showing up at your doorstep.  Unfortunately, adequate rest is the key to keeping you sane, boosting your energy, and believe it or not-helping you lose weight. When you are continuously sleep deprived, your body’s metabolism can really take a beating. Some studies even suggest that one day of poor sleep can make your metabolism slower the next day, and increase your stress hormone and sugar levels. We all know you won’t get 8 hours of restful sleep at once, but trying to sleep when your baby is sleeping can really help you bounce back much quicker. So put your type A personality in a drawer and don’t pull it out until your baby is walking and you are chasing after them in your pre-pregnancy pants.

Set Realistic Goals- This is by far the most important tip you can take away. Be realistic, and go easy on yourself. Keep in mind that it took you about 9 months to put on the weight. Unless ABC called and asked you to be on Dancing with the Stars, 9 weeks is probably not so reasonable to take it off. It’s a good idea to aim for losing your postpartum weight by 6 months to 1 year. Most women who lose the weight by 6 months tend to keep the weight off long-term vs. those who don’t lose it by then. Aiming to lose about 1lb/week is generally safe and healthy. Try not to slash your calories too much because this can really take a toll on your energy levels and your milk production. Don’t obsessively weigh yourself either. If you find yourself doing this, put the scale away and bring it out only every few weeks. This will give you more incentive and help you to stop obsessing over numbers from day to day.

Remeber to enjoy your time with your baby. You deserve it! Every new mom has some body struggles, so you are definitely not alone. Trying your best and taking care of your health is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your baby. If you’re feeling extra stressed, or frustrated with weight loss, talk to your doctor about other options, he/she can hopefully give you more guidance and reassurance.

Irregular Periods: Is your Period a Question Mark?

There’s nothing worse than rocking out in your tan skin and white pants than to feel that horrible sensation that your period is here unexpected and unannounced—well, except maybe rocking your white pants well after labor day and then getting your period. For some women their period is no big deal, it comes and goes, on time- every time and it’s a no hassle few days of the month. For those 5 girls in America, you’re lucky because the rest of us millions have had a question about our period at some point during our life.

Having unpredictable, heavy, or abnormal periods can really make life stressful. If you have had any irregularities in your period it doesn’t mean YOU are abnormal- so come out of the mental rewind to that 8th grade video “Am I normal?” and get equipped with some of the facts to help you answer your period puzzle.

Abnormal bleeding can mean different things depending on your age. When you are first starting your period you may get periods on and off, or at irregular intervals because the hormonal feedback system in your body is still maturing. As you get older your periods should get more regular.

For women in their 20’s-40’s, the feedback system is mature so periods should be at regular intervals. Here are some reasons that periods may be abnormal in this age group:

Pregnancy- Now it doesn’t take a medical school degree, or even Britney’s 8 Grammy nominations to know that if you miss your period and you have been getting your swerve on, with or without protection- you might be pregnant. Pregnancy is an easy thing to test for, so don’t procrastinate. Get tested for pregnancy if you miss your period because if you are pregnant you have a lot of other potential life changes to deal with and giving yourself time to consider your options is very important.

Heavy but regular periods- If you get regular periods but they are very heavy this may be due to a fibroid. Fibroids are common, usually benign tumors that often grow in the uterus as extensions of the muscle and can cause heavy or painful periods. The best way to know if you have these is to see your doctor who will likely do a pelvic exam and/or send you for an ultrasound if he/she thinks this is medically necessary. Certain bleeding disorders can also cause women to get heavy periods, and usually this is noticed when people first start their period during puberty. Bring this concern up with your doctor because in addition to checking for bleeding disorders, patients can also become anemic after several cycles of heavy bleeding.

Spotting or bleeding between periods, also known as intermenstrual bleeding is the random bleeding you get at times other than when you expect your period. Intermenstrual bleeding can be caused by a number of factors- here are some common ones:

  • Birth Control Pills- Although designed to make your life easier, and regulate the hormone levels in your body , “the pill” can sometimes also cause spotting or breakthrough bleeding. This often happens when someone forgets to take their pill or when the pill isn’t taken around the same time everyday. Depending on the actual pill you are on, some may have varying amounts of hormones  which can lead to intermenstrual bleeding. Talk to your doctor about other pills or other options for birth control if this is significantly affecting your daily routine.
  • Cervicitis- This is inflammation of the cervix due to any number of causes. Most commonly infections with Gonorrhea or Chlamydia cause cervicitis, but bleeding can also be seen in some cases with Bacterial Vaginitis or other non-infectious causes. As you know- not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so if you are worried about any of these diseases or you have abnormal vaginal discharge see your doctor as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. This may also clear up your breakthrough bleeding.
  • Cervical or Endometrial Cancer- This cause is quite scary, but noteworthy. Getting regular PAP smears is the best way to keep surveillance on these two things. Either of these cancers may cause intermenstrual bleeding, but both have possibilities for treatment if caught early.
  • Stress, weight loss or gain, and exercise- can also affect your periods. All three of these things can cause changes in the hormonal feedback loop in your body and give you breakthrough bleeding, or even lack of periods. It is important to stay healthy and exercise but if you are exercising so much that your periods are affected you should see your doctor to discuss if this is the right routine for you and to rule out any other concerns that may be affecting your period.

That was a lot of period talk and you may be totally information overloaded! But before you drop down and get your Google on, be sure to bring up your concerns with your personal doctor. She/he can give you the best advice based on your personal health and history.