smiling woman and newborn
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You Don’t Need to “Diet”

You gave birth to a darling baby but still have all those extra pounds. So you need to find the best diet to go on, right? Not exactly. Using a popular or fad diet may make it harder to lose weight and keep it off. One of the best ways to lose weight is to cut empty calories. Foods with empty calories have a lot of solid fats and sugars but not many nutrients that are good for you. Start by cutting out cake, cookies, and other sweets; soda and alcohol; and fast food like pizza and hot dogs.

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grilled fish and vegetables
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Eat Lots of Superfoods

It's tempting to eat whatever's handy, but you need serious nutrition -- especially if you're nursing. Choose high-protein foods like lean meat, chicken, and beans. And you need calcium, which you can get from low or non-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Fish like salmon and trout are great "superfoods,” too -- they’re packed with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s good for your baby.  

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bowl of strawberries
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Better Snacking

Snacking is OK, as long as you eat healthy snacks and cut back on ones that are high in fat and sugar. Choose snacks like fresh or canned fruit or unsweetened cereal over sugary soft drinks, candy, and chips. They're full of extra calories without much nutrition. Have your healthy snacks on hand when you breastfeed.

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nursing baby
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Nurse Your Baby

You know breastfeeding is healthy for your baby, but it also may be good for your waistline. Many women say nursing helped them get to their pre-baby weight faster. Breastfeeding burns several hundred calories a day.

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pouring water
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Drink Water

Make sure you drink lots of water. It can be hard to tell the difference between being thirsty and being hungry. If you drink first, you might feel full and won't want to snack later. Plus, if you’re dehydrated, your body won’t burn as many calories.  Have a glass of water at least every time you nurse.

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mom and baby stroller
6 / 10

Get Moving

The good news: You don't have to hit the gym! Put the baby in the stroller and take a brisk walk in the fresh air. Seeing other people and having a change of scenery can help ease stress, too. Exercise helps firm up your body and gives you energy for your day. Start slowly, working your way up to 30 minutes five times a week. Check with your doctor to see how soon after giving birth you can start exercising.

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woman sleeping
7 / 10

Go to Bed

Try to find a way to get at least 7 hours of sleep every day (even if it’s not all at once). When you don't get enough sleep, there's a chance you'll gain weight. In one study, new moms who slept 5 hours or less a night were less likely to lose weight than moms who got at least 7 hours. Set up your baby’s bedtime routine with activities like a bath, reading, and singing. Stick to the routine every night, and they’ll soon learn that bedtime means sleep.

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half turkey sandwich and strawberries
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Eat Small, Regular Meals

Eat small, healthy portions throughout the day so you'll feel full and have the energy you need. Don't skip meals -- especially breakfast. When you skip, you might get so hungry that you overeat or choose high-fat foods out of convenience. And going without food can teach your body to burn calories slower.

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feet on scale
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Be Patient

Losing about 1 pound a week is a realistic goal. Remember, it took you 9 months to get that baby body. Don't feel like you have to get back in shape right away.

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woman weighing in doctors office
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Ask for a Little Help

Your doctor or a dietitian can help you find support if you’re having a hard time losing the extra pounds. Some weight loss programs have special plans for new and nursing moms. And if you're having trouble thinking about or making healthy meals, ask eager friends to pitch in. You don't have to do it alone.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/05/2020 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 05, 2020


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American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Getting in Shape After Your Baby Is Born."

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: "Your Six-week Post-partum Check-up: A Health Care Guide for New Mothers."

Boschmann, M. Endocrine, Dec. 1, 2003.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: "Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers." "For Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Postpartum," “Weight Loss While Breastfeeding,” “What Are Empty Calories?” “Nutrition for Weight Loss: What You Need to Know About Fad Diets.”

Harvard School of Public Health: "Waking Up to Sleep’s Role in Weight Control."

Melinda Johnson, MS, RDN, president, Arizona Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Kong, A. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, September 2012.

La Leche League International: "Postpartum Body Image and Weight Loss."

News release, Kaiser Permanente.

Riverside Medical Clinic: "Metabolism and Weight Loss."

ScienceDaily: "Drinking Water Can Help Your Diet." "Breastfeeding," "Pregnancy: Recovering From Birth."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 05, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.