All moms who give birth gain weight. Hey, that’s what happens when you grow an entire human for 9 months, right?! What an incredible feat! Unfortunately, there’s a lot of pressure for new moms to get back to their “pre-baby weight” as quickly as possible. The photos of women who have bounced back after just a few months leave the rest of us feeling frustrated and inferior. Know this: there is nothing wrong with you! It is not normal to jump back into skinny jeans after just a few weeks, or even months. We are going to break down the truth about losing weight after pregnancy and give you our best advice on how to do so safely and effectively.
Realistic Weight Loss After Birth
Having a baby is one of the biggest life changes a woman faces. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Everything changes when you become a mom; new depths of yourself are discovered, while old traits fade away. With the birth of a baby comes a huge shift in lifestyle and perspective, not to mention juggling new challenges like extra laundry, round the clock feedings, lack of sleep, a dip in physical motivation, dirty diapers (the list goes on). The physical demands of caring for a newborn are exhausting.
With everything going on, give yourself a break on trying to lose the weight immediately. Yes, there are genetically blessed women who seem to bounce back to six-pack abs within a month of having a baby. But, most of us are not like that, and that’s okay. The physical, emotional and hormonal changes during pregnancy are unparalleled. Even if it’s been six months or a year with some extra pounds, understand the weight will come off eventually, provided you take some action steps.
Everyone says breastfeeding promotes faster weight loss. Unfortunately, this isn’t the truth for all women. Many women actually hold on to extra pounds until they are done breastfeeding. If you are one of those women, weight loss may be a struggle until your baby is weaned. Additionally, lack of sleep can increase stress hormones, making our bodies hold onto extra pounds. Nothing causes lack of sleep like a newborn.
Between surging hormones, breastfeeding, and lack of sleep, there is a lot standing between you and weight loss, but that doesn’t mean you should just give up. Here are our top tips…
How to Lose Baby Weight
We know this is easier said than done, but aim to get at least 4 consecutive hours of sleep whenever possible. Ideally, 8 hours is best, though probably unrealistic. Have your partner take on a night feeding, or take naps when you can. The more rested you are, the more energy you’ll have to stick to a healthy diet and exercise. Also, it helps regulate stress hormones, a major contributor to weight gain.
Babies love walks in a stroller or carrier. Try to walk outside every day if you can. The fresh air and exercise will help you both mentally and physically.
Try at Home Workouts
There are many workouts available online these days. Try to squeeze in 10-15 minutes at a time. Or just turn on some music and dance! Babies benefit from hearing music early on in life and they may also get a kick out of your moves.
Find a Baby-Friendly Gym
Many gyms have daycare available. This is a great way to get a workout in, and some time to yourself.
Use Your Freezer
As a new mom, you probably don’t have a huge amount of time for meal prep, so you need to have healthy foods on hand. Prepare and freeze healthy soups, chili, or other meals you can defrost for a quick meal.
Stock Healthy Snacks
If you’re breastfeeding, you might be extra hungry (all the time), so make your snacks healthy. Cut up celery and carrots to grab as a quick snack. Stock the fridge with low sugar yogurt, string cheese, or fruit. Keep the less than ideal snacks out of the house.
Dehydration can slow down your metabolism, the last thing you want if you are trying to lose weight. So, focus on getting enough water every day, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Eat More Veggies
Instead of putting yourself on a strict diet, aim to simply eat more vegetables. Make half your plate vegetables at every meal. This cuts down on calories while providing quality nutrition for you and baby. Veggies are also high in fiber, which will helps keep you full longer.
Ask for Help
Sometimes as new moms we feel like we need to do everything ourselves, but raising a baby really takes a village. Ask for help from your spouse, friends, and family when you need it. Maybe your husband can watch the baby for an hour while you do some meal prep. Maybe your mom can watch the baby while you work out. There is no need to try to do it all yourself and you deserve a little time off.
The Bottom Line about Weight Loss
Keep in mind that it took you nine months to put the baby weight on, so keep your expectations realistic. Focus on taking care of yourself, and your baby. This means getting enough nutrition, rest, and self-care. The weight will come off eventually, so for now, enjoy those sweet baby snuggles.