Bye-Bye, Baby Fat

Six tips for combatting postpartum pudginess.



Chelsea Lanese of Fit4Mom guides her students in a series of exercises to get their postnatal bodies back in shape.

Roberto Gonzalez

Your sweet bundle of joy may be here, but the body you had before pregnancy is definitely not. How do you balance exercise and nutrition with the demands of motherhood so you can get your body back?

Your path to postpartum fitness and nutrition is as unique as you are, according to Dr. Donald Diebel, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Women’s Care Florida Ob & Gyn Specialists of Winter Park and Oviedo. Here are some tips from Diebel and local fitness experts on how you can rebound after giving birth:

Go at your own pace. “After a vaginal delivery, if you feel like walking a week after birth, that’s fine. If you notice bleeding, wait another week and try again. After a C-section, the party line is nothing for six weeks. If in a couple of weeks you feel like walking around the block, go ahead if it doesn’t hurt. As far as getting back into crunches or heavier weights or core exercises, I’d wait six weeks for that,” Diebel says. Trainer Phil Tinder of ProFormPT in Casselberry recommends easing back into exercise. “Starting back slowly is obviously a good general recommendation because people are different, and they’re going to have to see how their bodies react to moving and the pressures that creates.” 

Stay hydrated. Hydration is key, especially for nursing moms and “even for women who are nursing and aren’t physically active,” Diebel says.

Don’t go it alone. Work with a trainer, or join a class. “Sometimes it can be so difficult to even get out the door when you’ve been up with your baby all night, but it is always so comforting once we get to class to find we are never alone,” says Chelsea Lanese of Fit4Mom in south Orlando. But motivation isn’t the only perk. “Working out with a certified postnatal instructor puts you in a safe environment to make sure you are not causing more damage. Instead, you are toning and strengthening your body.”

Work your core. Most new moms struggle with flabby abs. For post-C-section moms, add to that the issues of diastasis, a separation of abdominal muscles resulting from surgery. “Exercise is critical to train the transverse abdominal muscles, as well as the obliques and the rectus abdominis,” Tinder says. He uses yoga-based exercises to strengthen the core, while Lanese emphasizes various forms of plank exercises, especially for C-section patients.

Focus on nutrition. Your approach to diet, and even your calorie count, must be tailored to your body’s needs, Diebel emphasizes. “What works great for one woman doesn’t work for another,” he says, adding that prenatal vitamins are a must for nursing moms. “You can’t out-exercise poor nutrition,” says Tinder. “A healthy nutrition program that is tracked or planned according to individual needs is a must.” His tip: Track food intake using an app or a journal.

Take care of yourself. “As a new mom, it is so easy to lose time and sometimes even forget to take care of ourselves,” Lanese says. Tinder recommends adequate sleep—a common challenge for moms. “If someone doesn’t get adequate sleep, it’s not possible to reach optimal health,” he says. 


Need Childcare?

Childcare is available either free or at an additional cost at the following fitness centers. Reservations may be required.

  • YMCA Childcare is available at some centers; call to confirm availability. For a list of locations, visit ymcacentralflorida.com/y-locations
  • Celebration Fitness Center, 400 Celebration Place, Celebration, 407-303-4400. celebrationfitness.com
  • 24-Hour Fitness, 15 W. Crystal Lake St., Orlando, 321-558-1292.
  • LA Fitness Multiple locations throughout Orlando, lafitness.com
  • Gold’s Gym, 7733 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, 407-226-9996.
  • Barre3, 141 S. New York Ave., Unit 113, Winter Park, 321-972-2979. (Childcare is available for 6 months and older.)
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