So, your little one has finally arrived and you are overwhelmed by the amazing feeling of becoming a mother. At the same time, however, you are being thrown into the ruthless cycle of feeding and diaper changing. The first weeks are exhausting and you don’t have time nor power to think about how to lose baby weight. But then, something happens. You realize you cannot fit into your favorite pre-pregnancy clothes and your wardrobe is significantly limited to pregnancy leggings and your husbands’ t-shirts. You want your pre-baby body back but you might be wondering about how to do it the right way.
During delivery, most women lose approximately one-third of the weight they have gained during pregnancy. The rest of the gained pounds come from the enlarged uterus, breast and fat tissue, water retention and enlarged blood supply. To get your pre-baby body back, you will be focusing on getting rid of the extra fat tissue your body stored during pregnancy. But let’s be honest here – there is no magic pill the will make you shed those extra pounds overnight. It takes 9 months to go through the pregnancy process, so you’ll have to expect the same amount of time for your body to return into its pre-pregnancy shape. You have to be realistic when it comes to losing the baby weight.
Breastfeeding is not a diet
Ever heard the breastfeeding will make the extra weight just drop off? Well, for some lucky moms out there, it sure works. But for most of us, it doesn’t. When my first son was born, I just thought that don’t have to do anything in order to lose weight because I breastfed. That is what the mighty internet says right? Breastfeeding = fat burning. Oh boy, I was so naive! The truth is, breastfeeding helps you burn up to an estimated 500-800 calories a day. Breastmilk is a unique mixture full of vitamins, fat and immunity boosters. As your body isn’t used to create this kind of fluid normally, it has to work harder to produce enough for the baby’s needs. So yes, breastfeeding is a calorie-burner, but it is not a diet. Now the baby is here you will need a lot of energy to keep your milk production flowing. So don’t cut back on your caloric intake too much!
Breastfeeding itself can help you to lose weight provided that you don’t overeat. However, as a new mother, tired and sleep-deprived, you tend to snack a lot. Sleep deprivation increases junk food cravings, so you are likely to exceed the additional calorie burn that breastfeeding provides. This is exactly my case. When I breastfed, I was constantly hungry! All l could think of was what am I going to snack. I tend to look for a healthy snack, but I have to admit – I ate a LOT. I never had time to sit down and eat a decent food, so I snacked like every hour or two. Also, little did I know about the caloric value of food or how many calories I was consuming.
Later on, I came across an article about the caloric intake for breastfeeding women and I decided to download an app to keep track of my daily intake. I was shocked when I found out that was eating almost double of what I should be! If you realize those extra 500 calories from breastfeeding equal to e.g. 2 muffins, you binge before you know it. The total caloric intake of a breastfeeding woman should not go below 1,800 calories per day. If you lower this amount by dieting, it can affect your milk supply. That is why it”s good to keep track of what you’re consuming – and I don’t mean in the obsessed kind of way. Just to get an idea about the caloric value of different kind of foods. Only the way you’ll be able to make savvy substitutions for your snacks.
Your pelvic floor needs time to heal
A pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the uterus, bladder and bowel. Pregnancy and childbirth can cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken. Allow for proper recovery time to eliminate bladder issues and don’t hurry into losing weight after birth. You can do Kegel pelvic exercises even a few hours after vaginal birth. Squeeze in the muscles around the front passage and vagina as if trying to stop the flow of urine. Contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Release for 5 seconds. I did this “little workout” during my breastfeeding sessions. Stick to low-impact exercises for the first 2 months after giving birth, avoid jumping or running until the pelvic floor is healed.
Worked out before pregnancy?
Before pregnancy, I’ve worked out at the gym regularly. I even worked out until 7th month of my both pregnancies and I am so happy I did! My body healed from birth quite fast and I didn’t experience any complications at all. Your pre-baby shape can affect how fast you get your body back after pregnancy. The less weight you gain during pregnancy, the shorter it will take to lose it.
You’ve hit the wall. What now?
Many women experience this and I’ve been there too. You’ve been trying to lose your baby weight and because you have been doing it slowly and wisely, the scales and your measurements start to show some positive results. You think that you are on the right track to hit your goal but then it happens – the scales stop moving.
First of all, it is normal. I know it\s annoying and demotivating, but keep calm and don’t give up. When you work out and focus on healthy eating, your body becomes used to this new lifestyle and your metabolism slows down a little. Try not to focus on scales so much, because even if they’re not moving, at this point you might be able to see results in terms of your measurements. Also, the more fit you get, the more muscle tissue develops. The density of muscle and fat tissue differs, which means that muscle takes up less volume or space than fat. So even if the number on the scales is still the same, your clothes might fit better as the shape of your body changes.
Be patient and persistent, the weight loss usually gets moving again within a few weeks. Just stay focused on healthy eating, and exercising regularly. Remember not to cut your calories too much as it can send your body to starvation mode and if you are breastfeeding, excessive reducing of calories can lead to decreased milk supply.
Let’s get moving!
Now that you are realistic about your postpartum weight loss, let´s get you moving! You don’t need a celebrity trainer or a fitness expert to get you back into shape. There’s a lot of things you can do without even going to the gym! Here are some simple and useful tips and hacks the had worked for me and can help you to burn some extra calories too.
My younger son didn’t want to sleep/lay in the stroller at all. I hated the walks around my neighbourhood since he was screaming all the way. Naturally, I started to wear him and we enjoy walks ever since. Plus, it is super-convenient while doing household chores or going to the playground with the older child! Wearing a baby is like carrying and gym sandbag or a dumbbell. During your walks, do some lunges and squats while carrying the baby. Baby will love the motion and your booty will get a great workout! Also, look for some baby-wearing fitness classes in your neighbourhood. They’re so much fun and you get to meet new mamas like you!
2/ Playtime workout
Multitasking – all women, especially moms, are multitasking queens right? There are many effective and energizing exercises that you can easily squeeze into the playtime with your baby. Besides, it is so much fun (mostly for the baby, ha-ha) and you’ll feel soooo productive for mastering to tick off two tasks at once. I know what I’m talking about. Try some crunches with your baby seated just above the pubic bone or push-ups with baby lying underneath you. Add kisses and funny faces and you’ll be a playtime hero!
3/ Walk it off
Walking is a great cardio exercise the helps you to lose the excess weight. Besides, it takes the stress away and helps you to relax and battle the baby blues. You can add some extra calorie burn by squeezing in some speed-walking intervals or an uphill walk. Pushing the extra weight up the hills is a great exercise to tone your legs and butt. So hit the roads and get some fresh air, you both need it!
The Bottom line
Your body has achieved an amazing thing – it has created a new life. In order to do this, it had to undergo some changes. This transformation took nine months, so be prepared the losing the baby weight might take the same amount of time. Even when you achieve your weight goals, your body might not look exactly the same as before pregnancy. Embrace your new body, be consistent with your weight loss journey and, what is most important – be kind to yourself. Give your body the time to handle the postpartum weight loss at its own pace.
What is your biggest postpartum weight loss struggle? Let me know in the comments!