Postpartum Weight Loss: When Will I Lose the Baby Weight?
As much as we may all wish for it, the body does not usually magically return back to its pre-pregnancy size. Remember that it took 9 months for your body to grow to accommodate your baby and it will also take some time for it to “bounce back.”
Initially after delivery, about 10 pounds will come off right away. For the first two weeks after having a baby, the uterus shrinks and the breasts swell. It is fairly standard to expect to look approximately 4 months pregnant while this shrinking occurs. It is also not uncommon to have abdominal separation, diastasis recti, causing the belly to pooch out. Belly binding, in addition to abdominal exercises (NOT crunches or sit ups because they further this separation), is a great way to hold the abdominal muscles together so they have an opportunity to knit themselves back together. Breastfeeding burns about 300-500 calories per day, which can help get back to pre-pregnancy size, but not usually more than that. Breastfeeding is not a miracle diet and calories removed are important to replenish in order to maintain milk supply and heal from childbirth. Check with your doctor or a nutritionist experienced with breastfeeding if you are hoping to use breastfeeding for its weight loss benefits.
Some may feel the urge to start exercising right away to lose the baby weight, but it is advised to get the okay from medical providers and to take it easy for the first 6-8 weeks following a vaginal delivery and 10-12 weeks following a cesarean delivery. Gradual weight loss is advised over the next several months, rather than rapid weight loss. The uterus has a placenta sized wound inside of it that it is trying to heal and exercising prematurely can cause excessive bleeding. A warning the body gives that you have overdone it and need to relax more is the output of blood will increase and become bright red again. Start with an easy walk around the house, graduating to a walk down the block, followed by a walk around the neighborhood. An easy postpartum or mother-baby yoga class is also a great way to ease back into exercise – just be sure to avoid squats until your bleeding has stopped. No matter how the baby exited the body, the body has to have time to heal.
If weight loss is a concern for you after having a baby, eat healthy and nutritious foods and exercise regularly. Take it slow and easy at first to allow the body adequate time to heal before getting back to your pre-pregnancy pace.