6. Load up on fluids and fiber
Constipation is a common problem for many women post-delivery. To prevent it, drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day, and even more if you find yourself feeling thirsty, especially if you’re nursing. Water is a good choice, but you also can opt for fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, and up to 8 ounces a day of 100% fruit juices that contain important nutrients, Chin Pratt says.
Sugar-free soft drinks (decaffeinated is preferred) can be included as part of your fluid intake but are nutrient-deficient.
As for fiber sources: "The gold standard is fruit, veggies and whole grains, but sometimes that’s not enough," midwife Schorn says. "If you’re still having problems moving your bowels, try drinking lemonade or warm liquids such as herbal teas. And if that fails, try Grandma’s old standby: prunes and prune juice."
If you’re breastfeeding, any high-fiber food that gives you gas also might make your baby gassy, some experts say, so beware of the most common culprits: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and beans.
7. Avoid fad diets
The problem with most diets is simple but vexing: They cut calories so drastically that as soon as you’ve lost the weight and resume your normal eating patterns, the weight comes back—and then some.
Many of the latest diets also restrict healthy carbohydrates (such as whole grains and fruit)—a no-no for many reasons. "Whatever you do, don’t cut carbs," Waterhouse says. "Your body needs them in every way—they’re typically fiber-rich, they help you feel full, and they’re your brain’s main energy source.
Cut out healthy, complex carbs and your body will go into full-blown exhaustion." But do cut carbs such as white pasta, bread and rice. If you’re hell-bent on following a specific plan, our experts say Weight Watchers is a reliable one because it emphasizes behavior modification and a slow weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. Try their plan designed for breastfeeding moms.
8. Go easy on yourself
It can take a year or more to lose the pregnancy weight. "You need to think of pregnancy as an 18-month experience: nine months of gestation, nine months postpartum," Behan says. "This is a time when there’s a lot happening—you’re adjusting to your new life, your body is trying to replenish itself after pregnancy, you’ve gone through labor and delivery, and you may be breastfeeding. It’s a lot to adjust to, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not bouncing back as quickly as you’d like."