Women's Healthcare Topics

How Can I Lose Pregnancy Weight After Having a Baby?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Lose Baby Fat With a Balanced Diet and Regular Exercise

Weight gain during pregnancy is a normal and healthy process that ensures both you and your baby are adequately nourished and supported during pregnancy. Unfortunately, weight loss after pregnancy can often be slow, and some mothers may find this a bit frustrating. While you may be eager to get back into shape immediately after delivery, you must be patient.

Healthcare providers recommend that you try to lose pregnancy weight, since keeping the weight on has been associated with obesity 15 to 20 years down the road; however, they suggest that you lose the weight gradually.

You may read magazines about your favorite celebrity losing her pregnancy weight instantly after delivery, but she may not have done this in the healthiest manner. Celebrities are often placed on strict diets; they have personal trainers who force them to do grueling exercise routines; and they have the luxury of nannies to take care of their children. Their lifestyle is not realistic for most women.

For regular women, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly will help them lose pregnancy weight in a natural, healthy way.

It is very important that you do not go on a crash or fad diet in the post partum period. Even though you are no longer pregnant, your body still needs adequate nourishment, particularly if you are breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding mothers typically expend 500 or so additional calories every day producing breast milk for their newborns! Breastfeeding is actually a natural method of weight loss after pregnancy.

Did you know that breastfeeding mothers typically lose their pregnancy weight faster than mothers who bottle-feed their infants?

A warning about breastfeeding and dieting – postpartum women who diet, skip meals, or exercise vigorously might lose pregnancy weight fast, but they can pass toxins (that are normally stored in your body fat) into their breast milk. To ensure that your baby receives the best milk supply, you will want to eat a healthy and balanced diet.

Experts actually recommend that breastfeeding mothers wait until their baby is at least two months old before they attempt to lose pregnancy weight.

A healthy diet that incorporates regular exercise or activity will help you lose weight sensibly after pregnancy. Remember that it took several months for the scale to go up, and thus will likely take several months for the scale to go down as well.

Be realistic about your postpartum weight loss. It's possible that you may not go back to your pre-pregnancy weight. In most women, pregnancy causes permanent changes in your body – including slightly wider hips, a bigger waistline, and a softer belly.

Losing Weight and Feeling Great

Your doctor will probably recommend that you avoid strenuous exercise or activity until you have had your six week post partum check up. In fact, until this point in time it is likely that you will not feel much like exercising vigorously.

During the initial recovery period however, if you feel up to it you might consider taking your newborn for a stroll. Walking is a wonderful form of exercise that will not only help improve your health and help you lose weight, but also clear your mind and help you fight back against post partum depression.

If you haven't already, you should purchase some clothes that fit. Chances are it will take some time for you to fit back into you pre-maternity clothes, and you will have shrunk to a size that makes wearing your maternity clothes unreasonable a few weeks after delivery.

Why have some clothes on hand? By looking great and feeling great you will not fret as much about weight loss and will improve your self esteem. This will help you focus on being healthy rather than simply losing weight.

Lose Pregnancy Weight with a Healthy Diet

How to lose all the pounds that you aquired during pregnancy.

To help you achieve your post-partum weight loss goals, you will want to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Instead of going on a diet to lose pregnancy weight, why not eat a well-balanced variety of foods? This will ensure that you never get sick of eating one healthy food.

You should load up on "super foods," which are foods that are packed with healthy nutrients and vitamins, but they're low in calories and fat.

Fish, which you had to limit during pregnancy, is a "super food." It's packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids, which will help your infant develop a healthy brain and nervous system. The best sources of omega-3s are coldwater fish, like salmon, sardines, and tuna.

Milk and yogurt, which are high in calcium, are two other "super foods" that you'll want to eat.

Here are some additional tips for starting a weight loss regimen in the post partum period:

  • Start out slow. This is particularly important if you were not able to exercise regularly during your pregnancy. If you take on too much at once you may burn out quickly or worse, injure yourself.

  • Stock up on healthy and convenient snacks. Have plenty of fruits and lean meats available in the refrigerator. The more handy and healthy snacks you have available, the less likely you are to grab for something unhealthy.

  • Choose high density foods. Avoid eating foods that offer little in the way of nutrients. Highly processed foods and snacks are not the optimal choice for energy after pregnancy. Again, fruits, nuts, vegetables and dips, whole grains and other healthy selections are your best bet.

  • Eat several small meals per day. This is the same advice you probably heard during your pregnancy, particularly if you were battling morning sickness. Believe it or not the same rules apply in the post partum period. Doing so will provide your body with a continual supply of energy and support, and will also help boost your metabolism.

At no time during the post partum period should your caloric intake fall below 1500 calories if you are breastfeeding. This may impact your body's ability to provide milk and adequate nourishment to your baby.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race with regard to weight loss.

Reward yourself for each “baby step” you take, and remember to pamper yourself on occasion during the post partum period. Before you know it, you will recover your figure and feel great, without suffering in the process!

Exercise Helps Lose Pregnancy Weight

Diet and nutrition is important for weight loss after pregnancy, but don't forget to exercise. The best way to meet your post-pregnancy weight loss plan is to exercise to drop those pregnancy pounds, burn calories, and keep your muscles and bones strong.

You don't have to sign up for a gym membership after you deliver your baby, but you will want to incorporate strength training and aerobic exercises to your daily routine. Exercise will not only help you lose pregnancy weight, but it will also improve your mood and relieve stress. (Being a new mom does come with a lot of stress and emotional upheavals.)

Exercise is one of the easiest and most convenient forms of exercise for postpartum women. Post pregnancy weight loss can also be achieved with light exercise – such as stretching, modified push-ups, and a slow or moderate 30-minute walk three times a week.

If you're a social person, why not take your baby to a "mommy and me" exercise class at your local health club or community center? These classes will help you incorporate your baby into your exercise routine.

Keep in mind that you will want to get your doctor's OK before starting any workout program.


Doctor's Corner

Pregnancy Week by Week - Women's Healthcare Topics