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Postnatal weight loss varies for each mom. Getting back into shape isn’t always as simple and straightforward as eating healthy and exercising more.
You might be struggling to shed the baby weight and feeling like you’ve hit the plateau. It can be pretty discouraging that despite all your efforts, your weight just hangs around the same number.
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You exercise every day, walk with the baby daily, avoiding carbs…But the scale doesn’t show it. You feel like all your effort is pointless.
But you know what?
It probably isn’t the weight loss plateau at all!
There is actually perfectly natural, scientifically proven reason, why the scale isn’t moving and why it shouldn’t get you down.
It’s your HORMONES.
Or hormonal imbalance, to be more precise. This is a factor that many moms don’t always take into consideration when it comes to weight loss. There are many studies showing that hormones after pregnancy affect your weight loss and are actually preventing your body from shedding that extra pounds.
How childbirth affects your hormones
“Postpartum is a time of massive transition for your hormones, and if not cared for properly, can leave you feeling like a complete disaster.”SerenityGrows.com
The fact is that your hormonal balance is highly impacted by having a baby. As a result, you might be experiencing fatigue, baby blues, recurrent infections, menstrual problems, and weight loss struggles.
If you’re breastfeeding, your body produces a hormone known as prolactin. Prolactin is hormone mostly responsible for milk production and can sometimes be the reason why your metabolism slows down after your baby’s birth.
While some moms claim that thanks to breastfeeding, their weight just “fell off them” effortlessly, for others breastfeeding can actually prevent their body from fat loss.
Can hormones after having baby affect weight loss?
First things first: Hormones affect EVERYTHING. From breastfeeding, brain function, mood swings, night sweats, hair loss to your libido.
There is so much going on in your body during and after labor. Basically what happens is that during childbirth, our body increases the levels of oxytocin and endorphins – it’s natural pain relief. As you enter from pregnant state to postpartum, estrogen and progesterone start to decrease rapidly.
What is even more interesting, estrogen directly impacts dopamine and serotonin, known as the “happiness hormones”. And because your postpartum body just started to reduce estrogen levels, you might experience baby blues or even postpartum depression.
As a new mom, you probably don’t get a lot of sleep and your new role can be a pretty stressful thing at times. Stress and sleep deprivation are very common factors during the postpartum period, so it’s normal to struggle with weight.
Along with the lack of sleep, there is another, highly influential reason why fat loss may be difficult to achieve.
It is a hormonal imbalance. And the problem is, that these two might be just out of your hands sometimes.
Take sleep, for instance. I read all these articles about how you should be sleeping as much as possible when you become a mom. Sleep when your baby is napping.
And what if you have an older kid to take care of? Or you just want to finally do some laundry or eat quietly while actually sitting at the table. Or, perhaps your baby just doesn’t follow any regular sleeping routine.
I mean, whoever recommends these things, is probably not a mother themselves. No offense.
Getting a good night rest the first year postpartum is simply unattainable for most moms. In a wonderful guide 7 Secrets to Balancing Hormones Naturally in Postpartum, Maranda Bower talks about the importance of sleep in healing and balancing hormones. She says: “When you sleep, your body assesses your hormone state, cleans things up a bit, and makes more of the hormones you need.”
Sleep deprivation causes cortisol levels to increase
How can a stay-at-home-mom be stressed out? Lack of sleep, exhaustion, new life situation – all of this is a HUGE stress trigger.
While many people know cortisol as the “stress hormone”, it is actually an important hormone that is involved in a number of processes within the body. For instance, it helps to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and metabolism.
But here is the kicker:
When your body overproduces stress hormones, they can actually take control and negatively affect other hormones! In other words, even the smallest hormonal imbalance after having baby can totally throw off your body.
And when your hormones are out of whack, your efforts to lose that baby weight might just as well fly out of the window.
Should you really focus on fat loss in the first year postpartum?
I can’t give you a definite answer.
Most fitness professionals say it might just not be the best goal to have the first year postpartum.
“Happiness doesn’t come in a specific size of jeans. Between the hormones, lack of sleep, and falling into the trap of ignoring your body and punishing it back into shape, I don’t think it’s worth it.” says Jenna Dalton from sweetmombod.com
But somewhere between the amazing feeling of giving life to your child and embracing your “new body”, you will want to look good. And feel good.
I wanted, too.
And maybe you feel the pressure to lose weight simply because everything and everyone makes you feel like you are supposed to bounce back into your pre-pregnancy body as soon as possible.
I am not saying you shouldn’t be focusing on weight loss. If that is what you really want, just do it.
But do it, because of you. Not because that mama from your neighborhood wears her pre-pregnancy jeans just 3 months postpartum.
Physical activity and healthy habits are the best approaches in any stage of life. You just have to be prepared that despite all your efforts, it might just not work out as you expected the first year postpartum.
How long will they take to settle down?
Are you wondering when will you feel like “yourself” again?” Well, it varies for each woman. Hormonal imbalance directly related to pregnancy and childbirth like baby blues and mood swings should settle down within the first weeks postpartum (usually 6-8 weeks).
In most cases, breastfeeding-related hormonal symptoms will remain in the body for as long as you breastfeed. Once you’ve stopped breastfeeding and you sleep better at night, your homes should return back to normal levels.
This is the point when you can start preparing a serious weight loss plan, as it will probably happen more smoothly.
How to deal with hormonal imbalance after pregnancy
Balancing hormones after having a baby can seem completely out of your hands. And yes, the lack of sleep actually IS out of your hands 🙂
But you don’t have to just sit and wait. You can actually help your body to cope with a hormonal imbalance to kick start the weight loss process. Wondering how?
Here is the kicker:
Most hormonal imbalance symptoms are tied to nutrition.
There are many excellent resources if you want to dig deeper into the hormone targeted diet plan to fix your metabolism. My favorites are The Hormone Reset Diet from Dr. Sara Gottfried or The Hormone Diet from Nathasha Turner. Both of them are very easy to follow nutritional programs to balance your hormones, gain strength and detox your body.
Nurturing your body with healthy, whole foods, is the key element to help you improve your hormonal health.
Here are 4 basic steps on how to quickly bring your hormones back into balance naturally:
1. AVOID SOY PRODUCTS
Although soy is considered to be healthy food, soybeans are rich in substances that copy human estrogen. These are able to suppress thyroid function.
Estrogen influences your appearance as well as your weight. When your estrogen levels are out of balance (known as estrogen dominance), you might experience mood swings, various skin issues such as acne or oily skin and troubles with weight loss.
TIP: Add ground flax seeds into your smoothie every morning. These miracle seeds are a rich source of lignans, that has an anti-estrogenic effect. On top of that, flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber that ties with estrogen and removes it from the body.
2. ENJOY THE SUN
Vitamin D plays a part in regulating insulin and the thyroid hormone. According to Dr. Josh Axe, “Vitamin D almost acts like a hormone inside the body and has important implications for keeping inflammation levels low.” Deficiency of vitamin D is tied to an abnormal release of parathyroid hormone which causes hormonal imbalance.
TIP: The primary source of vitamin D is the sun, so make sure you spend enough time outdoors every day to boost your vitamin D levels. Stroller walks are great for this, as Vitamin D is essential for your baby, too.
3. SAY NO TO POLYUNSATURATED FATS
Stay away from foods rich in Omega-6 fats (sunflower, corn, canola, soybean oil, and peanut butter), and stock up with rich sources of natural Omega-3s instead (wild salmon, flaxseed, chia seeds or walnuts)
Start eating algae, such as chlorella, which is naturally rich in Omega-3s. Furthermore, chlorella can help your body to get rid of harmful heavy metals and chemicals that are found in our foods such as dioxin – known as hormone disruptor.
TIP: Eat more egg yolks. The yolk is amazingly nutritive and can help fight hormonal imbalance after pregnancy. It is a rich source of Selenium (which plays a significant role in thyroid function), Vitamin A, and Vitamin D.
4. SUPPORT YOUR LIVER
Your liver plays a crucial role in taking used-up hormones out of the bloodstream once they have finished their job. Support your liver with the right kind of nutrients by drinking lots of water, hormone balancing tea with dandelion root and eating foods full of healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil) and loads of raw or lightly cooked green veggies.
TIP: Drinking fresh beet juice daily can work wonders for your liver. Red beets contain Betaine, a compound that is known to be protective of the liver by preventing fat accumulation and maintaining proper electrolyte balance. Apart from detox benefits, beet juice also helps to cleanse and refresh blood thanks to its naturally high iron contents.
Give it a try
Hormonal imbalance is one of the key factors that affect weight loss. However, many moms don’t always take this into consideration when trying to lose weight after having a baby.
For the past year, your body went through some amazing changes to give life. You deserve more than just punishing yourself because you are not able to bounce back into your pre-pregnancy shape.
YOU CREATED LIFE. Embrace your first year postpartum (the time flies so fast!) and focus on your baby, not weight loss. Your time will come. As soon as your body is ready.
What is your experience with weight loss in the first year postpartum? Let me know in the comments?
Do you know a mama who is struggling to lose weight? Share this with her!