Article How to Safely Lose Weight After Pregnancy

Having a baby typically brings about a lot of physical and emotional adjustments. Your body may look and feel different than it did before you became pregnant. Those changes can include an increase in what you consider to be your average body weight. 

The sight of famous people seeming to snap back into shape so quickly in magazines and social media posts may alter your perception of how fast you can safely lose weight after pregnancy.

If you are looking for ways to lose weight after having a baby, your focus should not be on achieving the unattainable. There are ways you can lose weight safely without putting your well-being at risk. You want to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, for the sake of yourself and your family. 

Try not to move too quickly. Many women lose around half of their baby weight within six weeks of giving birth. The rest of your weight may gradually come off over the next few months. You may want to wait until after you’ve had your six-week checkup before starting any new weight-loss plan. Breastfeeding moms may want to wait until their infant is around two months old and they have a stable milk supply.

Breastfeed if it is an option. The act of breastfeeding can help you safely and naturally lose weight after pregnancy if you maintain a healthy diet. You want to avoid crash dieting during this time as it could affect the amount of milk you produce.

Keep your goals realistic. A reasonable goal for most women is to try and lose a pound and a half per week. Even if you stay within recommended weight gain guidelines during your pregnancy, you may still be at least 10 to 15 pounds over your old weight after six weeks. Set your expectations around your body's needs rather than around idealized and exaggerated images you see in the media. 

Maintain a well-balanced diet. While many women turn to calorie-restricted diets to lose weight, it’s not recommended for postpartum women in the first six weeks, especially breastfeeding moms. A strict diet can affect your body’s ability to recover after giving birth. Breastfeeding women typically need around 500 more calories per day for good milk production. You can speak with a dietician or other health professional about the kind of foods you should include in your diet after pregnancy as you work to lose weight safely. 

Participate in physical activity. Physical activity is an excellent way to encourage weight loss after giving birth. You should consult a doctor before starting any exercise regime to ensure it is safe. Start slowly by taking part in low-impact physical activities like:   

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Cycling

Be careful about how far you push yourself, especially when you first get started. You should be eating enough calories to accommodate your increased daily activity. 

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Things to Keep In Mind

You may have permanent post-pregnancy changes like wider hips, a softer belly, and an expanded waistline. That doesn’t mean that you are unhealthy or that there is something wrong. It is helpful to focus more on your overall health rather than obsessing over differences in your postpartum body. A flexible attitude regarding how you look after having a baby can go a long way toward helping you achieve success. 

A combination of a healthy diet and physical exercise is often the safest way for women to lose weight after having a baby. Some tips you can follow when it comes to your diet after pregnancy include: 

  • Avoid skipping meals.
  • Consume multiple smaller meals throughout the day (around five or six) versus eating three large meals each day. This can help keep your energy up and curb cravings.
  • Incorporate low-fat and low-dairy products.
  • Eat snacks high in fiber and protein to help you feel full.
  • Avoid consuming foods and drinks that are high in sugar, saturated fats, or trans fats.
  • Try baking or broiling your food instead of frying it.  

Women who maintained regular physical activity before having their baby may find it easier to lose weight than those who did not. You should try to make sure any postpartum workout program includes some form of moderate cardio and a focus on rebuilding core muscles. However, you may need to wait longer to start exercising if you had a caesarean birth so that your body can fully recover from the procedure.

You may find more success by gradually building up your physical activity level instead of trying to do too much at the beginning. By following that path, you can avoid the risk of burning yourself out or getting injured. 

Going through pregnancy and birth is a major change to your life and body, so give yourself plenty of grace and love during this time as you work toward long-term health.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 05, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “What Really Helps You Bounce Back After Pregnancy.”

UF Health: “Losing weight after pregnancy.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Nutrition and Exercise.”

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