How to lose the “baby weight?”

May 21, 2021

You are a new mom, congratulations!  As you start to settle into a new routine with your little bundle of joy, you may start to wonder how to lose the “baby weight.”  First, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to lose weight immediately. Yes, it is important to return to a healthy weight after delivery.  But give yourself some grace and create a plan that works for you and your family.

What is “baby weight” exactly?

It is recommended by the CDC for women carrying one baby to gain somewhere between 25 to 35lbs during pregnancy.  Your healthcare provider might recommend something different for you if you or the baby have special needs or if you are carrying multiple babies.  

When you are pregnant what does “baby weight” consist of?  The March Of Dimes gives us a general idea of what that might look like.

  • Baby = 7.5 pounds
  • Amniotic fluid = 2 pounds. Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby in the womb.
  • Blood = 4 pounds
  • Body fluids = 3 pounds
  • Breasts = 2 pounds
  • Fat, protein, and other nutrients = 6 to 8 pounds
  • Placenta = 1.5 pounds. The placenta grows in your uterus and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
  • Uterus = 2 pounds. The uterus is the place inside you where your baby grows. 

Now that we have a better understanding of what you gained and why you gain it.  We can take a closer look at losing any remaining weight and cover some tips that hopefully help you along the way.

Tips to help lose the baby weight

1. Make realistic goals

There are ways to lose weight safely. A steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is recommended for the most effective long-term weight management.

You may want to use a BMI calculator to help you gauge where you are currently and to help create a goal for yourself. It is a good idea to discuss your current weight with your doctor and together you can easily determine what a realistic weight would be for you.  

Keep in mind that it may appear as though celebrities or the stories you read in magazines make it seem like the pounds can be shed so quickly and easily.  It takes time and discipline to lose weight and to keep it off.

2. Avoid crash diets

Crash diets are very low-calorie diets that aim to make you lose a large amount of weight in the shortest amount of time possible.  Your body needs good nutrients to heal and recover after delivering a baby.    

Decreasing your calorie intake by about 500 calories per day will stimulate a safe weight loss of about 1.1 pounds per week. As an example, a woman eating 2,000 calories per day could eat 300 fewer calories and burn an extra 200 calories through exercise, making a reduction of 500 calories in total.

3. Breastfeed if possible

Breastfeeding your baby during the first 6 months of life (or longer) has many benefits for both you and your baby.  Many women contribute breastfeeding as a factor in their postpartum weight loss journey.

However, in the first 3 months of breastfeeding, you may experience no weight loss or even some weight gain. This is due to increased calorie needs and intake, as well as reduced physical activity during lactation.

4. Monitor your calorie intake

Keep track of your calorie intake in a journal if you find that you are not losing weight when changing your diet and exercise habits.  Recording your daily calorie intake can also help ensure you are getting enough calories to provide you with the nutrition and energy you need.  Using this technique will help you reduce your portion sizes and will encourage you to choose healthier foods.  

5. Eat fiber rich foods

That means adding healthy grains and veggies to your shopping list. Eating foods that are high in fiber has been shown to help with weight loss.  Soluble fiber foods may also help you feel fuller for longer by slowing down digestion and reducing hunger hormone levels.

6. Make sure you include healthy proteins into your diet

Including protein in your diet can boost metabolism, decrease appetite, and reduce calorie intake, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Healthy protein sources include:

  • lean meats
  • eggs
  • low mercury fish
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • dairy

7. Keep your healthy snacks handy

The foods you have around can have a big effect on how you eat. Stock up on healthy snacks and make sure they are super convenient to grab.  

Healthy snack ideas:

  • cut vegetables and hummus
  • mixed nuts and dried fruit
  • Greek yogurt and homemade granola
  • air-popped popcorn
  • string cheese

8. Avoid added sugar and refined carbs

Sugar and refined carbs are high in calories and usually low in nutrients. Research associates a high intake of added sugar and refined carbs with an increase in weight, diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and even cognitive decline.

The good news is that there are healthy alternatives to reach for.  It’s easy to reduce your sugar intake by avoiding processed foods and sticking to whole foods such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and yogurt.

It’s easy to reduce your sugar intake by avoiding processed foods and sticking to whole foods such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and yogurt.

9. Skip highly processed foods

You may start to see a theme here.  Skip the processed foods and reach for whole, unprocessed foods.  They’re usually full of protein, fiber, and less sugar.

Processed foods are generally high in sugar, unhealthy fats, salt, and calories.  Including any of the below items into your diet will not help you obtain your weight loss goals.

  • fast foods
  • prepackaged foods
  • chips
  • cookies and baked goods
  • candy
  • ready meals
  • boxed mixes
  • processed cheeses
  • sugary cereals

10. Avoid alcohol

Although there are some health benefits in consuming a small amount of alcohol, like having a glass of red wine with dinner.  It is probably best to avoid alcohol especially if you are breastfeeding.  

Also, when it comes to weight loss, alcohol provides extra calories without much in the way of nutrition. Alcohol can contribute to weight gain and may lead to more fat being stored around the organs, also known as belly fat.

11. Keep your body moving

Moving your body has tons of benefits in general, but can especially assist in supercharging your weight loss journey. Implementing cardio into your routine, such as walking, jogging, running, cycling, and interval training, helps you burn calories and has numerous health benefits.

Exercise alone may not help you lose weight, combined with practicing good nutrition, you will see the results you want.  Another example, if you want to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week you will need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity. 

If you are wondering how long after childbirth you can safely start exercising – it depends on the method of delivery and if there were any complications.  It may be best to consult with your healthcare provider to help evaluate what that timing looks like for you.

12. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water.  Drinking water may facilitate weight loss and encourage other positive health outcomes. It is especially beneficial when you are breastfeeding.  Staying hydrated is important to replace fluids that have been lost through milk production.

13. Make sure you are getting enough sleep

As a new parent this may be one of the most challenging things to stick to consistently.  Your little one wants your attention and needs you practically 24 hours a day.  Keep in mind sleep is important to your health and also how you function as a person in general.  If you are feeling sleep deprived, ask for help.

14. Seek support

Look into a group-based weight loss program. Many people find it as a beneficial tool and you may actually have more success with a group than trying to go at it alone.  You also may find that other people sharing their success stories and healthy habits with you to be motivating as well as inspirational. Ultimately you should find a method that works best for you.

15. Ask for help

Being a new mom is a big role to play.  It can be very rewarding and also very overwhelming.  Although maintaining a healthy weight is important, it shouldn’t add additional stress or anxiety to your life.  If you approach it in the way of making small changes you may see that it pays off in a big way.

If you feel as though you may need more help, consult your doctor, dietitian, family nurse, or a psychologist.  Also consider reaching out to a postpartum support helpline if it all is too overwhelming.

Keep in mind

Again, do not put any extra unnecessary stress on yourself.  Enjoy your little one and don’t forget to take care of yourself too.  The “baby” phase in life goes by incredibly fast.  Savor it as much as possible.