As a new mom, it’s only natural to wonder how you’re going to lose the weight you put on during your pregnancy. With the baby finally here, many moms are eager to get back to their pre-baby weight now that they are almost fully recovered from the delivery. While so many of us wish we can magically lose all our pregnancy pounds with the snap of our fingers, the unfortunate reality is that postpartum weight loss can be a tricky journey.
But that shouldn’t discourage you! Weight loss may be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Through this entire process, the most important thing you can remember is this: every postpartum weight loss journey is different. What works for one mom might not work for you — and that’s okay! So many mothers are so quick to be hard on themselves about the difficulties they’re having with losing those post-baby pounds that they forget the incredible miracle their bodies created. You just grew a beautiful little human; cut yourself some slack!
There are plenty of things you can do to get back into shape and feel like yourself again.
Every Mother’s Postpartum Weight Loss Journey is Different
We can’t stress it enough — postpartum weight loss varies from mother to mother. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all weight loss plan that helps every single postpartum mom, so it’s recommended that you talk to your doctor about what the best course of action is for you.
Before establishing a routine, it’s important to consider a few defining factors that can have an effect on how new moms lose their pregnancy weight. One example is breastfeeding.
Although there are many studies that show that breastfeeding moms typically lose weight at a faster rate than moms who bottle feed, it’s also been proven that breastfeeding can actually stagnate weight loss during postpartum. Oftentimes, lowered estrogen and progesterone levels (common in postpartum) work against a mother’s healing body and place strain on the hormones responsible for stress. This ebb and flow relationship communicates directly with the body’s ability to lose weight.
Additionally, breastfeeding is known to cause increased hunger in moms since their body is working overtime to provide nutrients to their babies. As a result, moms are likely to eat more but move, sleep, and hydrate less while nursing — leading to difficulties in losing weight.
Another critical factor in postpartum weight loss is the presence of PCOS — Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause the ovaries to enlarge and develop small cysts. Women with PCOS tend to experience inconsistencies in their periods — whether it be prolonged or infrequent. While this condition can cause a variety of menstruation and fertility problems, it also inhibits a new mom’s ability to lose postpartum weight easily. Specifically, weight loss and exercise look completely different while supporting a body with PCOS. For example, HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts are highly recommended for postpartum moms — once cleared by their doctors — due to the positive effects it has on weight loss. However, for women with PCOS, the results are completely opposite than one would expect. For your average woman, HIIT workouts can burn fat at a higher rate of time, but for someone with PCOS, these workouts can actually put more weight on the body.
HIIT workouts are known to make the symptoms of PCOS worse as the constant physical stress can make the body hold on to fat and delay the muscles from growing. This is because the body can’t tell the difference between self-imposed stress (working out) from an external physical threat. As a result, women with PCOS will need to work with their doctor to establish a routine that will work best for them and their PCOS.
Examples like breastfeeding and PCOS are simply two of many factors that can have a significant effect on how postpartum mommies lose weight. However, this doesn’t mean that losing weight will be impossible — you may just need a little extra guidance and options to help you reach your end goal.
To help you along this important journey, we’ve provided a few helpful tips for healthy postpartum weight loss.
Set a Realistic Weight Loss Goal
Before you start the diet grind, it might be beneficial to talk to your physician and work together to create a safe and realistic weight loss plan that works for you. Setting healthy, monthly goals is an excellent way to stay on track and make this journey a little less intimidating. And if you don’t meet every monthly goal you set, that’s okay, too. Don’t forget that every mom’s postpartum weight loss varies from the next. While many new mothers can shed some of their pregnancy weight by the 6-month mark, it may take a little longer for others.
Before setting your goals, it’s important to think about common factors that have an effect on weight loss like, age, genetics, diet, and activity. As you get older, your body’s metabolism begins to slow down and reduces the number of calories it’s able to burn in a certain amount of time — especially once you pass the age of 25. With that in mind, you may need to come up with a plan that focuses on healthy eating habits and daily exercise. You’ll also want to consider your family’s genetics. Do common health problems like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., run in your family? If so, it’s critical that you talk to your doctor before creating your weight loss plan. Although postpartum weight loss is the ultimate goal, you want to take the necessary measures to ensure that you’re remaining healthy in your efforts.
Establish a Healthy Post-Baby Diet
Nutrition is the key to a healthy mom and a happy baby. Even though you are eager to slip back into your pre-baby clothes, it’s important to create a post-baby diet that isn’t overly restrictive. Every mom should avoid crash dieting at all costs, as its risk factors can extend to your baby if you’re breastfeeding. If your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, you will start to produce less breastmilk for your baby. If you are nursing, your body needs the proper amount of nutrients — even if it means consuming more calories and holding on to the baby weight a little longer than you may want.
Talk to your doctor about what your daily caloric intake should be based on your current health and your pre-pregnancy activity level. With their help, you’ll be able to create a diet that’s healthy for you and your little one. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to get crafty with your healthy foods. During your little one’s afternoon nap, open up your Pinterest app and start saving those healthy and creative recipes that are mom and baby-friendly. Bonus points to the moms who get their partners to do all the cooking!
Get Enough Rest (side-eye - or at least try to)
We know you’re most likely rolling your eyes and scoffing at this suggestion, but studies show that new moms that get enough rest have a better experience in their postpartum weight loss journey. Erratic sleep schedules that boast minimal sleep can disrupt your metabolism, making it much more difficult to lose weight. Moms who don’t get enough sleep will typically rely on high-calorie and high-sugar foods to help them get the boost of energy they are so desperately lacking. This is a dangerous and unhealthy cycle to start and will only make losing weight more frustrating.
Moms, we know that ‘a good night’s rest’ is not synonymous with ‘newborn baby,’ but nevertheless, it’s essential that you’re getting enough sleep — not only for your weight loss intentions but your overall well-being, too. If sleeping through the night isn’t an option with your little one, try to take naps when the baby naps. Who cares if the house is a mess and the laundry needs to be done? Those things can wait while you get some well-deserved z’s.
Whether you’re just starting your postpartum weight loss journey or you have been working hard at it for some time, it’s important to have patience and stay positive throughout the entire process. Postpartum weight loss can be very discouraging and intimidating, especially when you are taking care of your little one at the same time! This may be one of the hardest points for you during this journey and we won't minimize that. But we will tell you that it will become clearer for you in days coming of what your body likes and dislikes; ultimately what works best for your healing body. Trust the process!