Most women find that at least a small amount of fat sticks around after giving birth. This occurs in many areas of the body, but the belly and hips are common areas for carrying around baby weight. Losing this excess fat requires diet and exercise changes that create a daily calorie deficit because weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you take in. Follow your doctor's recommendations regarding a healthy return to exercise after delivery.
Cardiovascular exercise burns fat all over your body, including on your hips. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week after you have a baby. However, if you have a lot of stubborn fat, you may need to increase this to as much as 300 minutes per week for weight loss. At a moderate intensity, you'll be slightly winded but will be able to carry on a conversation. Many new mothers choose walking because the baby can ride along in a stroller. Dancing, swimming and biking are other good choices.
Strength-training moves burn calories, but also help you build lean muscle mass after having a baby. Lean muscle mass boosts your metabolism and increases your calorie burn. Lift weights or use resistance bands at home or at the gym. Some recreation centers offer classes that allow you to use your baby for strength training. Aim to get 20 to 30 minutes of strength training twice per week. While it is important to include moves that target your whole body, squats, leg lifts and lunges are good for toning and strengthening your hips.
Most doctors caution against strict dieting after pregnancy, especially if you're breastfeeding. In general, fill your plate with a variety of healthy foods from each food group, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. These choices are usually low in calories, but help fulfill your nutrient needs and satisfy hunger. If you are breastfeeding, the process burns up to 800 calories per day, which can help you lose hip and body fat, but you'll need about 500 extra calories to make breast milk, so severe calorie restriction can interfere with milk flow. As you wean your baby, reduce your calorie intake.
If you had a cesarean delivery, you may have to wait up to eight weeks before returning to exercise. Work with your obstetrician to determine when the time is right for you. Many new mothers find that keeping a food and exercise log helps them track their meals and workouts at a time when sleep deprivation and the demands of a newborn might make it difficult to remember. Sleep is a vital part of effective weight loss, but it is hard to come by in the months soon after delivery. Try to nap when possible and ask for help so you can sleep at night to help you get rid of excess hip and body fat.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.