Healthy Postpartum Weight Loss: Everything You Need To Know To Lose Baby Weight Safely
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.
It’s also one of the most discussed topics between expectant, new and older moms that come to us for help at MUTU. So we’ve put together a comprehensive series of resource to answer your most frequent questions, including:
- What is pregnancy weight?
- Where does preganancy weight gain actually come from?
- What are the health benefits of getting back into a healthy weight range postpartum?
- Why does postpartum weight feel hard to lose?
- The role of postpartum hormones in weight loss: Is hormonal belly a thing?
- How long does postpartum weight loss take?
- How quickly can I lose weight postpartum?
- How much weight do you lose right after birth?
- How much weight should I lose a week postpartum?
- Does breastfeeding help with postpartum weight loss?
- Things to consider before starting your weight loss journey
- How to lose weight after pregnancy
- Postpartum diet for weight loss: tips and advice for moms
- How to set realistic goals for postpartum weight loss:
- What to do if you’re not seeing progress after 3/6/9/12 months
- When should I seek help from a healthcare provider
- Weight loss after a c-section
- Separating fact from fiction: Common myths about losing weight after childbirth
So if you’re curious about weight loss after having a baby and want to know the truth about what works and what doesn’t, read on…
Things to consider before starting your weight loss journey
Focus on overall well-being rather than just the number on the scale. Be patient with yourself and set realistic goals. Consider proper nutrition, exercise, rest, stress management, and emotional well-being as key components of a postpartum weight loss strategy.
What is pregnancy weight?
Pregnancy weight includes the baby weight, placenta, amniotic fluid, increased blood volume, breast tissue, uterus, and additional fat stores that support a growing foetus.
Stating the obvious, gaining weight gain during pregnancy is essential for your baby to grow and be healthy, but not all the gain was baby, so clearly it will not all disappear right away when your baby is born.
If average pregnancy weight gain is 25-35 pounds, then your 5-9 pound baby of course only accounts for some of that. Pregnancy weight gain comes from various sources. These weights are approximate and vary person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy, but generally speaking you’ll gain about:
- 6+ pounds from baby weight
- 2-3 pounds of placenta
- 2-3 pounds of amniotic fluid
- 2-3 pounds of increased breast tissue
- 2-5 pounds of increased blood volume
- 2-5 pounds in the expansion of your uterus
- 5-9 pounds extra stored fat for energy during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Maintaining a sustainable and healthy weight for your body after giving birth to a baby can have a number of significant benefits. It can reduce the risk of long-term health complications such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and maybe some cancers. Arriving from your birth weight to a healthy weight range in the postpartum period can also improve overall well-being, boost self-confidence, and enhance energy levels, making it easier to care for your baby and engage in daily activities.
Losing weight that was gained in pregnancy can be challenging to lose for a number of reasons.
Hormonal changes, especially the hormone relaxin, can affect metabolism and the rate of fat loss. Read more about weight gain after pregnancy and hormones here.
Not to mention, sleep deprivation, increased stress levels, lack of time for exercise, and the demands of caring for a newborn can make it more difficult to prioritise healthy habits. It’s important to approach postpartum weight loss with patience and focus on sustainable routines. We know some new mothers are desperate to get back to their pre pregnancy weight but it’s important to approach your personal journey to losing weight with pragmatism, patience and positivity.
Every body is different. And so is every pregnancy, birth and woman. Losing weight after pregnancy can absolutely be a goal, but be sure you allow your body and mind time to heal. The weeks and months following birth are intense. Sleep deprivation, surging hormones and emotional highs and lows, as well as making peace with your new body.
Postpartum weight loss is a gradual process and can vary for each woman. The best route for losing this extra weight healthily and sustainably takes time and safe practice rather than a push for rapid results. Generally, it can take several months to a year to reach pre-pregnancy weight, and sometimes longer depending on individual circumstances. It really depends on how much (again perfectly natural) extra you gained, which is different for everyone.
Focus on resting, healing, nourishing your body back to strength and of course, enjoying your baby.
The rate at which weight is lost postpartum varies. Typically, there’s a significant weight drop right away due to the loss of amniotic fluids and of course not having a baby in your body!
After that, you may lose about 1-2 pounds per week, but this varies. At that rate, it will take about 6 months to lose this very natural and healthy weight gain. It could take 10 months – 2 years to fully shed these natural pregnancy pounds. It’s not unreasonable to expect your body to take as long to lose weight as it took to gain it and there’s an efficiency and logic to keeping extra energy stores around in postpartum.
Immediately after giving birth, you will likely experience a sudden weight loss of around 10-12 pounds, which includes the baby weight, placenta, amniotic fluid, and some fluid loss.
Aiming for a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is generally considered safe and sustainable.
You want to make sure to not rush a fitness plan before your body is ready, or you might be slowing down your weight loss goals with an injury. Also, be mindful of not restricting food too much since your body needs fuel to recover and if breastfeeding, enough calories for a good milk supply.
On that note, let’s talk about breastfeeding and postpartum weight loss. Breastfeeding can contribute to postpartum weight loss since the process of milk production and feeding your baby breast milk requires your body to burn calories. However, the extent of weight loss may vary among individuals, and it’s essential to prioritise proper nutrition and hydration while breastfeeding to maintain milk supply and energy levels.
- Practise healthy eating habits by consuming a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.
- Engage in regular physical activity, starting with gentle exercises (walking is a great place to start) and gradually increasing intensity.
- Consider ways to get rest and recharge, even in those early months when your newborn baby sleep and feeding patterns are a bit wild.
- Add stress management techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and seeking support from loved ones into your routines to keep you motivated and energised.
- Be consistent and patient with yourself, understanding that postpartum weight loss typically takes several months at least.
- Focus on a healthy diet consisting of nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals.
- Stay adequately hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
- Aim for balanced meals and a healthy snack that include a variety of food groups (put together a diet plan if you think it helps you to plan ahead)
- Avoid ultra processed food as much as possible, sticking to natural ingredients without additives and/or preservatives.
- Unless advised by a care provider, avoid restrictive diets or cutting out entire food groups. A lack of sufficient calories in the postpartum period may compromise nutrient intake and milk supply if breastfeeding.
- Start by adding in 10 minutes of walking a day and build from there.
- Engage in gentle exercise that targets the pelvic floor, core muscles, and overall strength and flexibility.
- Incorporate activities you enjoy to make postpartum exercise a sustainable part of your routine.
- Listen to your body and prioritise rest and recovery when needed.
Concentrate on 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.
Remember 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.
Lastly, if working out is on your radar, progress slowly and listen to your body’s signals as you heal and strengthen.
- Understand that postpartum weight loss is a gradual process and that each woman’s journey is unique.
- Focus on non-scale victories such as increased energy levels, improved strength, and overall well-being. By focussing on a non-weight loss goal you can stay motivated even when progress is not linear.
- Celebrate small achievements and milestones along the way.
- Seek support from your friends, or family to help you stay motivated.
- Set realistic and achievable goals that prioritise overall health and well-being rather than focusing solely on weight.
- Consider factors such as time available for self-care, breastfeeding, and the demands of caring for a newborn.
- Break down your goals into smaller, actionable steps to make them more manageable.
- Be flexible and adjust your goals as needed based on your individual circumstances.
There can be several reasons why weight loss may be challenging after having a baby. Hormonal changes (read our popular article on hormones here), sleep deprivation, stress, lack of time for self-care, and the demands of caring for a newborn can all impact weight loss efforts. It’s important to approach postpartum weight loss with patience and prioritise overall well-being rather than focusing solely on the scale.
If you’re not seeing progress after a specific period, it’s important to remain patient and focus on the overall changes in your health and well-being. Reassess your nutrition, exercise routine, sleep habits, stress management strategies, and seek guidance from a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian who can provide personalised advice and support.
It’s advisable to seek help from a healthcare provider if you have concerns about postpartum weight loss, experience difficulties with physical or emotional well-being (including postpartum depression), or have specific health conditions or complications that require professional guidance.
There is an expected level of fatigue to be expected after giving birth, but if you’re experiencing significant energy crashes, possibly along with changes in your mood and/or dips in milk supply, it can be worth talking to a care provider about your diet and hydration.
Weight loss after a c-section is more or less the same as with mums who experienced a different type of birth. However, it’s important to allow ample time for recovery and follow any specific recommendations provided by your healthcare provider regarding exercise, lifting restrictions, and incision care.
Learn more about exercise and losing extra pounds after giving birth via caesarean here.
During pregnancy, weight gain is inevitable and important. It’s understandable to worry about the rate of added weight and natural to have concerns about “getting my body back” after birth.
However, maintaining a balanced diet of healthy food, engaging in regular physical activity and moderate exercise, staying hydrated, and practising stress management techniques can help keep your weight gain in a healthy space during pregnancy. Eat when you’re hungry, work out in a safe and fun way, snack on fruits and veg and protein dense things over sugary quick fixes, through pregnancy and into postpartum for the easiest weight transition.
Finally, remember postpartum weight loss is neither a race nor a measure or your health or success as a new mom. You deserve to feel confident and comfortable in your new post-baby body. You did something awesome there, Mama, so try to focus on self care, rest and making peace with your incredible body.