After you have your baby, one of the first questions may be when to expect to lose the pre-pregnancy weight. Although you won’t see it in movies or television, the truth is that losing weight doesn’t just happen to you.
It takes time, a healthy diet, and a plan.
While some weight loss occurs, you may be dismayed that you won’t just lose weight naturally after birth. That baby weight sticks around for a while.
It doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight after pregnancy, but taking a realistic approach to what happens during weight gain and what it takes to achieve weight loss, especially after having a baby, is the best action plan.
How much weight do you lose after giving birth?
Most women lose weight in the first two weeks after giving birth, but the amount of weight lost varies from woman to woman. Baby weight is a tricky thing.
While you lose a little weight immediately following the delivery of your baby, you may end up with added water weight, swelling due to complications, or a more extended postpartum recovery period, which can prohibit you from starting a workout routine.
Weight gain is to be expected when you’re pregnant, but how much weight you put on while pregnant depends upon how big your baby is, what your diet is like during pregnancy, how you are built, and more.
Most women, on average, can expect to lose around ten pounds in the first two weeks after giving birth. Much of this weight is water weight. Some of it is from the baby; still, more has to do with hormones.
Postpartum weight loss timeline
Losing weight after pregnancy depends on many factors. Life choices, the method used in giving birth, postpartum exercise, and a healthy diet before and after giving birth all factor into the timeline for postpartum weight loss.
The following are other aspects you may want to consider when thinking about how much weight you can expect to lose and how quickly.
Keep in mind that everybody is different. We don’t all have the same frames, genetic makeup, or metabolism. So make sure to consider the following with an understanding that they are loosely-based facts.
1. Vaginal delivery vs. cesarean section delivery
Women who deliver babies via vaginal birth typically lose weight a bit more slowly. On the other hand, women who have babies via c-section tend to lose weight faster.
However, a woman who has had a c-section and does not do anything afterward to encourage weight loss, such as eating healthy foods and snacks, may lose less weight.
2. Pre-pregnancy weight
Losing weight after pregnancy will also depend upon what sort of shape you were in before you became pregnant. Women who are obese or overweight are often encouraged by their doctors to try to lose weight before they attempt to conceive.
This is as much for the baby’s health as it is for the mother.
A woman who was overweight before pregnancy may have a more challenging time trying to lose baby weight than a woman who was considered average or physically fit.
However, with lifestyle changes and postpartum exercise, any woman can succeed in their postpartum weight loss journey.
3. Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding
How you feed your baby also factors into how quickly your weight loss efforts show you results. Breastfeeding uses fat cells stored in your body during pregnancy to produce breast milk, which can help you lose weight.
Although you have to consume more calories and eat more frequently to keep up your breast milk supply, those snacks and meals should be full of healthy calories and lean protein, which the body then uses quickly.
General weight loss timeline
The average weight loss process can take some time. Initial weight loss after delivery of your baby may be up to thirteen pounds, depending upon the size of your baby. That weight is baby weight, amniotic fluid, and the placenta.
Most women can return to their pre-pregnancy weight within about six months of delivering their babies.
How long does water retention last after pregnancy?
Water retention, or fluid retention, makes your legs and feet swell up during pregnancy. It can even be painful sometimes, making your skin feel dry and tight and adding pressure to your lower body.
Some women are shocked that it doesn’t go away immediately after having a baby. This is yet another part of postpartum weight loss that you must be patient with.
Make sure you stay hydrated, as you can’t just flush the water out of your system and hope for results. With proper hydration, exercise, and a healthy diet, swelling or postpartum weight retention start to decrease in about two weeks.
Tips for success in postpartum weight loss
You and your doctor decide how much weight you want to lose. Not society. Not your partner. Not your friends.
Being healthy is more important than being thin, and your new baby deserves to have a parent who is healthy and strong.
That being said, once you have spoken with your healthcare provider and have decided upon a healthy weight loss goal, there are things that you can do to get maximum results without hurting yourself or being unhealthy.
You can include the following tips in your daily routine to help you lose weight.
1. Know your limits if you are breastfeeding
Nursing mothers, or women who pump breast milk, should not lose more than a pound and a half weekly. Any more weight loss than this could decrease breast milk production, which you don’t want.
While there’s nothing wrong with formula feeding, it can be devastating for a woman who had her heart set on breastfeeding to have her supply dry up due to too much weight loss too quickly.
2. Adopt a healthy diet
Change your eating habits. It’s easier said than done, but it can be done. Don’t skip meals to lose weight. Make healthy choices regarding food, such as lean protein, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and lots of water.
Eating whole grains and protein can help breastfeeding moms keep their milk supply up! Hydration is also crucial.
Cut out sugary drinks like soda and juice, and stick with water, and you will see a big difference in your health, energy level, skin, hair, and even in your weight loss journey.
3. Start exercising
Be sure to ask your doctor when you can exercise regularly after your postpartum period.
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you should be able to start trying to lose weight postpartum after about eight weeks of recovery.
Cardio and core exercises are a great way to start to promote weight loss. Low-impact, moderate exercise is excellent for getting back in shape and getting rid of unwanted body fat.
Physical activity is essential, even if you aren’t planning on working out.
You can go for walks with your baby in the stroller and spend time with your partner in the evenings by taking a bike ride or short hikes with friends.
Pilates and yoga are also great options for low-impact postpartum weight loss.
4. No crash diets
Those extra pregnancy pounds may come off, and you may get back to your normal weight faster with a crash diet, but the moment you stop that diet, the rapid weight loss you experienced goes away.
Weight loss after pregnancy is best done safely and slowly, with attention paid to the abdominal muscles and through light exercise or a tailor-made exercise program from a professional trainer.
Your fat stores will prey upon themselves during a crash diet, and you will see extra pounds lost at first, but the moment you stop, your body starts to panic and saves those fat stores, making the last few pounds much more challenging to lose.
Regular exercise and a health-conscious diet that doesn’t include junk food will do you more good in the long run, even though the results may take a little longer to see.
5. Get enough sleep
If you just had a baby, try not to laugh too hard at this tip.
You’re sleep deprived, you’re lucky if you get four hours of sleep at any given time, and you are in a state of constant exhaustion. Fortunately, it won’t always be this way.
Try to rest when you can, and accept the help offered when taking care of your baby so that you can get some much-needed sleep.
6. Give yourself some grace
Always seek professional medical advice before you start on any diet regimen. It’s easy to want to undo the recommended weight gain that you were supposed to embark upon when you were pregnant as quickly as you could.
However, remember that you made and gave birth to an entire human being. Your body produced a placenta to nourish your child, amniotic fluid to keep your child safe and cushioned, and made every single part of that perfect little baby.
Your body has changed, and that’s okay.
You may not get your pre-baby body back, but what you get is much more rewarding. You have a precious little one who doesn’t care how many pounds you can lose by the summer for swimsuit season.
Your doctor instructed you to gain up to 35 pounds during pregnancy. It isn’t just going to fall off of you, and you need to learn to be okay with that.
Allow yourself some grace. Motherhood is beautiful, and so are you.
Lose weight after pregnancy the healthy way
Giving birth is a massive undertaking.
Your body takes nearly a year to prepare for it.
While you should certainly put some effort into making healthy choices and living a healthy lifestyle after the birth of your baby, you should also remember that what took nearly a year to accomplish is going to take quite a bit of time to come back from.
Eat better, smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
Drink lots of water. Get lots of rest.
Don’t start crash or fad diets that will show you results fast but will put the weight right back on you just as quickly.
Have faith in yourself, be happy, and do what you can. You’ll get there.