Losing weight after pregnancy
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You should plan to return to your pre-pregnancy weight by 6 months after delivery. Most women lose half of their baby weight by 6 weeks postpartum (after childbirth). The rest usually comes off over the next several months.
A healthy diet with daily exercise will help you shed the pounds.
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 before you try to lose weight.
Aim for a weight loss of about a pound and a half a week. You can do this by eating less food, and getting more exercise.
- To do this, cut out 500 calories a day from your current diet. Ask your doctor how many calories you need each day.
- Do not drop below the minimum number of calories you need.
If you're breastfeeding, you'll want to lose weight slowly. Weight loss that happens too fast can make you produce less milk. Losing about a pound and a half a week won’t affect your milk supply or your health.
Breastfeeding makes your body burn calories. It helps you lose weight. If you're 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.
- Don’t skip meals.With a new baby, many new moms forget to eat. If you don’t eat, you will have less energy -- and it won't help you lose weight.
- Eat 5 - 6 small meals a day with healthy snacks in between (rather than three larger meals).
- Eat breakfast. Even if you don’t normally eat in the mornings, get into the habit of having breakfast. It will give you energy to start your day and help you keep from feeling tired later.
- Slow down. When you take your time eating, you'll notice that it's easier to tell that you’re full. You’ll be less likely to overeat.
- Choose low-fat milk and dairy products. Look for low-fat or fat-free dairy products. You don't need to drink whole milk in order to make good breast milk.
- When you reach for a snack, choose fruits and vegetables. Foods like apples, oranges, berries, bananas, carrots, and pepper strips are great snack choices. They are low in fat, but high in vitamins and fiber.
- Drink 8 or 9 cups of liquids a day. Drinking water helps your body flush out fat as you are losing weight. Limit drinks like sodas, juices and other fluids with sugar and calories. They can add up and keep you from losing weight.
- Choose broiled or baked rather than fried foods.
- Limit sweets, sugar and fat.
Don’t Crash and Burn
Don’t go on a crash diets (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 not be able to return to your exact pre-pregnancy weight or shape. For many women, pregnancy causes changes in the body that stay. 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're 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.
Don’t overdo it. Just a quick walk around the block with your baby in the stroller is a great way to add exercise to your daily routine.
- Last reviewed on 8/16/2012
- Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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This page was last updated: April 14, 2014