You should plan to return to your pre-pregnancy weight by 6 to 12 months after delivery. Most women lose half of their baby weight by 6 weeks after childbirth (postpartum). The rest most often comes off over the next several months.
A healthy diet with daily exercise will help you shed the pounds. Breastfeeding can also help with postpartum weight loss.
Take Your Time
Your body needs time to recover from childbirth. If you lose weight too soon after childbirth, it can take longer for you to recover. Give yourself until your 6-week checkup before trying to slim down. If you are breastfeeding, wait until your baby is at least 2 months old and your milk supply has normalized before drastically cutting calories.
If you are breastfeeding, you will want to lose weight slowly. Weight loss that happens too fast can make you produce less milk. Losing about a pound and a half (670 grams) a week should not affect your milk supply or your health.
Breastfeeding makes your body burn calories which helps you lose weight. If you are patient, you may be surprised at how much weight you lose naturally while breastfeeding.
Eat to Lose Weight
These healthy eating tips will help you lose weight safely.
Do Not Crash and Burn
DO NOT go on a crash diet (not eating enough) or a fad diet (popular diets that limit certain types of foods and nutrients). They will probably make you drop pounds at first, but those first few pounds you lose are fluid and will come back.
Other pounds you lose on a crash diet may be muscle instead of fat. You will gain back any fat you lose on a crash diet once you return to normal eating.
You may not be able to return to your exact pre-pregnancy shape. For many women, pregnancy causes lasting changes in the body. You may have a softer belly, wider hips, and a larger waistline. Make your goals about your new body realistic.
A healthy diet combined with regular exercise is the best way to shed the pounds. Exercise will help you lose fat instead of muscle.
Once you are ready to start losing weight, eat a little less and move a little more each day. It may be tempting to push yourself into a hard routine for fast weight loss. But rapid weight loss is not healthy and is hard on your body.
DO NOT overdo it. Just a quick walk around the block with your baby in the stroller is a great way to start adding exercise to your daily routine.
Berger AA, Peragallo-Urrutia R, Nicholson WK. Systematic review of the effect of individual and combined nutrition and exercise interventions on weight, adiposity and metabolic outcomes after delivery: evidence for developing behavioral guidelines for post-partum weight control. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2014;14:319. PMID: 25208549 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25208549.
Isley MM, Katz VL. Postpartum care and long-term health considerations. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 23.
Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Maternal nutrition and supplements for mother and infant. In: Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM, eds. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 9.
Newton ER. Lactation and breastfeeding. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 24.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 - 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf. Accessed November 8, 2019.
Review Date: 11/7/2019
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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