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No matter what everyone tells you, post-pregnancy fat is the reality for most new (and not so new) mothers. Belly fat is likely to be your biggest enemy after you give birth, but you may also simply have put on weight all around.

You can get rid of that fat, and of course getting back in shape does require a lot of effort. We've got some tips you help you along. 

1. Use meal planning

The postpartum period is notoriously hard when it comes to cooking. Newborns can't be left alone for very long, and tend to need you right when it is least convenient. Cooking a healthy home-made meal can often take a long time, and when you either don't plan at all or plan something too grand, you're likely to end up ordering a pizza instead. Using meal planning is one of the most successful paths to weight loss after pregnancy. I suggest that pregnant moms try to get their friends and relatives to cook meals for the family for at least a few weeks, so mom and dad can bond with the baby and not have any stress about cooking. If this is not possible, try cooking meals from scratch while you are still pregnant, and freezing them. You could ask your partner to cook if possible, because let's face it newborns need mommy most. Avoid processed meals as much as possible. A cheese and tomato sandwich (brown bread!) is always better than fried, fatty stuff.

2. Stay hydrated

You may be surprised that being well-hydrated actually helps your body get rid of that extra fluid retention (edema) that is so common during pregnancy. Most people fail to drink enough water, and substitute other drinks like coffee and juice instead. Avoid this temptation and make water your main drink throughout the day. A large glass of water may help you fight any cravings you have, both because it can make you feel full and because the very activity of drinking water offers distraction.

3. Breastfeed

Mammals breastfeed their young. This is not something that puts a lot of strain on a mom's body, but it does a little. Human moms burn 200-500 additional calories a day while they are exclusively breastfeeding their babies. Could it be that that extra belly fat you developed over the course of your pregnancy is actually nature's way of making sure you can handle breastfeeding? Is that fat there to be "sucked up" by your baby? I think this makes sense, but whether you agree or not, make sure you don't increase your calorie intake just to make sure your baby gets enough milk. You'll lose weight faster.

4. Keep busy

Do you want to lose weight? You've got your first six weeks postpartum "off" to recover from your pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Then, it's time to join a gym, a mom and baby exercise class, and to jog with your friend twice a week. Right? Obviously, working out in such an organized manner, outside of the home, is a little unrealistic for most moms of newborns. Just because you think you can't do this (and in most cases, you'd be right!), you don't have to resign yourself to having that belly forever. Any physical activity you do burns calories. Walking around town or the mall with your baby, vigorously cleaning the house and following along with an exercise video at home all count, for instance. My best tip to help you stay active is the following.

Forget about strollers, for now. Stick your baby in a good-quality, hands-free baby carrier that is comfy for both your baby and you. I personally recommend the Ergo baby carrier, because it divides the baby's weight between your hips and shoulders and you can carry your baby on your back. There are many other great carriers, but pouch slings and other one-shouldered devices are not suitable for really active moms. With a baby carrier, you can commit to using stairs instead of elevators. You can walk around town without having to maneuver a stroller, and walk on terrain that's not flat or smooth. Doing many outdoor activities with your baby and partner also helps you bond as a new family unit, and prevents that crazy many folks feel when they are indoors all the time.

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