Are you struggling with postpartum pounds that won't budge? Here 6 sensible ways to lose baby weight the healthy way so that you can ditch the pounds while caring for yourself and your baby at the same time.
All moms deal with postpartum weight gain. Our bodies put on the extra weight to support our babies (and ourselves) for 9 whole months while the baby grows at a super fast pace.
Once the baby is born, it's easy to feel discouraged about the way you look and to want to lose weight quickly and get back to your pre-pregnancy bodies. But it's important to focus on health while thinking about weight loss.
Losing weight the wrong way can hurt your health, and if you're breastfeeding (as I hope you are, if you are able) it can affect the amount and quality of your breastmilk.
It's important to lose weight in a healthy manner so you can get back into your clothes without your or your baby's health suffering.
My Baby Weight Story
I gained nearly 47 pounds in my pregnancy with my daughter. Although this is more than the recommended 25-35 pound weight gain, I had a very healthy pregnancy with no complications or health concerns.
The worst thing I had to deal with was morning sickness. Losing your pregnancy weight requires patience, but if you stick with my plan, the rewards will pay off.
I am happy to report that I lost all my pregnancy weight! My daughter is 5 months old and I'm continuing to steadily lose weight.
I still have a little more weight I'd like to lose since I wasn't at my ideal weight before I became pregnant (who is??). However, I am confident that I'll be able to lose more because of the way I carefully took care of my body during and after pregnancy.
Here are the ways that have helped me healthfully lose weight postpartum.
6 Healthy Ways to Lose Baby Weight
Rest Rest Rest
This is key and the best piece of advice I can give every postpartum mama out there. We are bombarded with messages all the time that we need to get back in shape after having a baby. So many magazines show us how celebrity mamas lost all their pregnancy weight in a matter of weeks with washboard abs.
None of this is realistic and it is dangerous advice. I am thankful to have been exposed to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) years ago. It has served me well in my health journey.
TCM advises mothers to get as much rest as possible the first 6 weeks after giving birth. If you aren't able to properly rest after giving birth, it can create serious health problems in your body.
I realize that not every mother has the opportunity to do this, but I think this needs to change. We need to support each other in our communities when others are in need.
In many other countries, postpartum women are given the support and rest they need to heal after birth. Our culture needs to accept that women who just gave birth need rest. We cannot keep expecting women to be back to their pre-pregnancy weight right after having a baby.
If you aren't able to get help after birth, the best thing to do is plan before the baby comes. Stock your freezer with ready-made meals and get your slow cooker out. Also, get a list of easy recipes together like this Egg Roll in a Bowl, Chili Mac, Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets, and more.
Get a system ready because you will not feel like doing anything for a while and your baby will need your constant attention. If you have neighbors and friends close by, see if a meal train can be set up for you. Don't be too polite or afraid to accept help.
If someone offers to help, thank them and accept their help.
Eat Real Food
Eating real nourishing food is so important, particularly warm soups made with homemade broth from animal bones. Make or have someone make you pig trotter soup. Have a little of that every day and eat a variety of other soups like this Thai Chicken Soup.
Eat Warm Food
According to TCM, it is important to mostly avoid salads, fruit and other cold foods during the first six weeks postpartum, even if it is in the middle of the summer. Although my daughter was born in the spring when it was already hot, I was craving these warming foods. They made me feel rejuvenated and nourished every time.
If possible, don't even drink cold drinks. If you are drinking milk, warm it up before you drink and your body will thank you. Try warm drinks like this Healthy Hot Chocolate, Coffee Substitute, or teas.
If you are having a cold drink like water kefir, wait for it to come to room temperature. However, it is best to have everything warm or hot.
Your body also needs good saturated fats in order for you to lose your pregnancy weight. This may sound counterintuitive to you, knowing what the messages are of the diet industry. However, they are important (here is why eating fat is healthy and health benefits of lard, for more information).
Taking care of your body in this way will help your body work better.
Pregnancy Weight Loss through Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is one of the most consistent ways that helped me lose my pregnancy weight. I was amazed at how fast the pounds melted away.
I was feeding my daughter on demand and by six weeks, I had lost 28 pounds! For all you breastfeeding mamas out there, I'm sure you know how hungry and thirsty breastfeeding makes you!
I did not diet and I still haven't. It really isn't advised to go on any crazy diets while breastfeeding. I was most concerned about nourishing myself enough so that I could provide the best nourishment to my daughter through breastfeeding.
Focus on eating balanced meals so you won't go for the sweets! If you eat healthy, your breastmilk will be healthy too. Aside from all of the other benefits of breastfeeding, breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day! This is why so many women are able to lose a lot of weight from breastfeeding alone.
I'm making the light walking recommendation for the first 6 weeks only. Don't overdo it. Remember when I said it is important to rest the first six weeks?
I know it can be hard to be patient when you want to lose baby weight. You may want to start your fitness routine right away, but as I said earlier, this could lead to serious health problems if you don't get the proper rest and healing during this critical period.
It is perfectly okay to do light walking during this time, if you feel like it. Don't lift anything heavier than your baby if you can help it. You will get the chance to work out harder eventually. If you are feeling up to walking, go slowly and enjoy getting fresh air outside.
Some women look at their lochia (postpartum vaginal discharge) as a guide to see if they have overworked themselves. If you start bleeding more, this may be a sign that you need to slow down. I didn't walk every day, but I tried to walk a few days a week around the block. I was able to go longer towards the end of the six week period without a problem.
Exercise After 6 Weeks
If you reach the six-week mark and your doctor gives you approval to exercise, then you can start doing more intense exercise. I began by taking my daughter on longer walks in her stroller for 45 minutes, sometimes running for part of the way. Eventually I started going to group fitness classes at our local gym.
I felt the need to be challenged and it helped get me into shape and lose weight more rapidly. Be sure to start out slowly when you begin to exercise again.
Start gentle with stretching and walking and build up to more intense exercises (hint: Don't make your first exercise an intense kickboxing class!). There are some excellent postpartum workouts on YouTube, but do what feels comfortable to you.
Ditch the Unrealistic Expectations About Losing Baby Weight
The first thing to remember is to not compare yourself to other women! This is one of the worst mistakes you can make.
I know when I've done it, it makes me feel inadequate. I ask, "why can't I be as fit as her? How come my body isn't as good as hers?"
Everyone's health journey is different. It's important to focus on your own health and fitness. Set goals for yourself and when you meet them, celebrate that!
If you follow the ways I recommend to lose weight after pregnancy, you should be able to maintain good health throughout. I would avoid crash diets, especially while nursing. Remember losing weight should be gradual, especially when nursing. Be patient with yourself and take care of your bod--and your little one.
Here's a video I made about losing baby weight that gives some more ideas:
I hope this has inspired you and given you some helpful ideas about how to lose baby weight in a healthy way and that you'll soon have your pre-pregnancy clothes back on.
How much weight did you gain with your pregnancies?
How long did it take for you to lose your baby weight?
Sarah is a Catholic wife and mama to one. She's a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and her passion is encouraging women to have natural pregnancies, births, and healthy babies, the way God designed it. Her health journey began in 2011 when she was healing herself from a number of health problems. Since then, she's researched true pathways to thriving health by studying traditional cultures and lifestyles. Join her to learn about real food, health and how to heal yourself.