Postpartum weight loss is a minefield of expectations and judgements, both our own and other peoples’. Social media and celebrity stories show impossibly fast fat loss, and ‘losing baby weight ‘ seems like a measure everyone’s got an opinion on. How long should it really take and what’s the truth about what works and what doesn’t?
Postpartum weight loss – How long will it take?
If average pregnancy weight gain is 25-35 pounds, then your 5-9 pound baby of course only accounts for some of that. Amniotic fluid, extra breast tissue, increased blood supply and fat storage are all part of normal weight gain during pregnancy.
It will take *at least* 6 months to lose this very natural and healthy weight gain, and could take 10 months – 2 years. It depends on how much (again perfectly natural) extra you gained… and it’s different for everyone. Focus on resting, healing, nourishing your body back to strength and of course, enjoying your baby.
Whenever you return to your pre pregnancy weight (if that’s your goal), your body will probably feel and look different. Be patient and loving to yourself. However your birth experience, your body has done something huge, powerful and traumatic, and it needs time, care and rest to heal. Celebrate your changing body, and don’t obsess with postpartum weight loss. Your belly will be softer, your hips and shape may have changed. It’s all good. Give yourself a break, you grew a human.
Will breastfeeding help you lose weight?
It might. Some mums find that the extra calories used to produce breast milk do contribute to postpartum weight loss. Extra fat stores as well as the food you eat are used to produce what your baby needs.
However, if you’re breastfeeding you will need to eat more! You need these extra nutrients and calories to fuel milk production. So now is definitely not the time to cut calories or ignore your appetite. Many mums find that up to 10 pounds refuses to shift until you’re done breastfeeding. Don’t rush your body, or your own or your baby’s need or desire to continue. A few extra pounds can wait, and breastfeeding or not does not guarantee speedier weight loss.
When can you start exercising?
Start with healing and reconnecting with your core and pelvic floor. MUTU System guides you safely though essential foundational exercises that you can start in the early weeks after giving birth. Breathing strategies and techniques to gently find, heal and engage your core, whatever your birth experience. If you had a vaginal birth your pelvic floor needs time and care, and if you had a c-section your scar site will be tender and may feel numb or sore.
As soon as you feel able, head outside for a walk. Increased blood flow and circulation will aid healing and you’ll feel good for the movement.
Wait at least 6 weeks after a relatively complication-free vaginal birth, and 10 weeks after c-section or traumatic birth before any more intensive exercise. Core and pelvic floor restoration and strengthening, and walking, are what your body needs for now. As you reach the 6-10 week mark and get the all-clear from your GP, ease back in slowly. More on what’s ‘normal’ and returning to exercise postpartum here.
Postpartum weight loss is neither a race nor a measure or your health or success as a new Mum. You deserve to feel confident and comfortable in your new post-baby body. You did something awesome there, so try to focus on self care, rest and making peace with your incredible body. If working out is on your radar, progress slowly and listen to your body’s signals as you heal and strengthen.