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.
Eat to Lose Weight
These healthy eating tips will help you lose weight safely.
- DO NOT skip meals. With a new baby, many new moms forget to eat. If you do not eat, you will have less energy, and it will not help you lose weight.
- Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day with healthy snacks in between (rather than 3 larger meals).
- Eat breakfast. Even if you do not normally eat in the mornings, get into the habit of having breakfast. It will give you energy to start your day and stop you from feeling tired later.
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.
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.
- BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2014;14:319. PMID: 25208549 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25208549.
- Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. 8th ed. health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines.
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