Are you getting ready to have a baby? Here are three important things all moms should know about postpartum weight loss.
When I got pregnant the first time four years ago, I was certain of everything. I was certain that I wouldn’t gain more than about 25 pounds, and I was certain that I’d be able to get back in shape pretty quickly.
There were a lot of things that I was certain of. I had big plans for a completely natural birth and had tons of ideas of how I was going to lose weight after baby. I had plans to breastfeed for at least one year, then go back to work. When my baby got to six months of age, I would be 100% organic with her new foods.
If you’re a mom, you might be laughing a little bit. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes. You know how it is.
With your first baby, you tend to have really high expectations about everything. The problem is that there are no rules with pregnancy and kids. There’s no way you can control everything that happens. And as you learn this, you slowly begin to let go of the silly things you can’t control. You learn to choose your battles and that’s what’s healthy if you want to be a good (sane) parent.
You know all of those big plans I had? Not ONE of them went as planned.
My first pregnancy resulted in a c-section, which is the polar opposite of having a natural birth.
I only breastfed for 6 months and it was only for about 50% of the feedings because it was 100% harder than expected.
I didn’t go back to work, ever. Right now I’m about to have baby #2 (in January 2018) and I just became a personal trainer a few months ago.
I’ve yet to lose 100% of the weight I gained during my first pregnancy. I got severe postpartum depression and it sucked the life out of me and I actually gained weight again after birth. That was a driving factor behind my decision to become a personal trainer.
And, finally, I fed organics as much as possible…for a few months. Because life.
If you haven’t already picked up on what I’m layin’ down, the point is this: things just don’t go as planned when you have a baby, and it’s okay.
Related Reading: 7 Things For Easier C-Section Recovery
I learned a lot from my first baby. That’s how it should be. Now that I’m both a personal trainer and super pregnant lady, and I have the experience of postpartum depression, I have some important stuff to share with you new moms.
Because you matter and your expectations are probably super high and I don’t want you to go through the things I did.
So let’s talk about this postpartum weight loss thing. Because I know it’s on your mind.
3 Things All Moms Should Know About Postpartum Weight Loss
1. It’s Okay to Want to Lose Weight
You are not vain for wanting lose weight. Mama, you are not selfish for taking time to work out. You are not neglecting your baby if you exercise. You’re doing what’s right for you in order to become healthy. You are helping yourself, which is super important. Your self-love will pour over and spill all over that sweet baby. I don’t care what anybody tells you – it’s okay to want to lose weight after having a baby. The sooner you feel like yourself again, the better. Plus, some postpartum weight loss is natural, whether you asked for it or not. 😉
Let me say it again in case you haven’t understood me yet: YOU ARE NOT SELFISH FOR WANTING TO LOSE WEIGHT AFTER HAVING A BABY.
See this post about how to set realistic fitness goals after having a baby.
2. It’s Okay to Take Your Time
With everything I said above, it’s important to remember that it takes time. Putting too much pressure on yourself to lose weight is no good. You’re already tired and your hormones are still a little whack, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
You know what they say, “It took 9 months to make the baby, so let your body have at least 9 months to recover.” It’s true. But that’s not a number you should hold on to like it’s life or death. You need to set realistic postpartum weight loss goals. If you’re feeling stressed over your weight loss, are you doing enough or too much? Be realistic about it and be forgiving, too. Too much pressure and having unrealistic expectations is what sent me spiraling into a depression after having my daughter, so be careful with yourself.
See this article if you’re struggling to keep the weight loss momentum.
3. Your Baby is Important, But Your Health Comes First
Health isn’t all about the number on the scale after you have a baby. Postpartum weight loss is important if it makes you feel better, but overall, your mental health is most important. Your baby is obviously needy and important, but if you can’t take care of your baby because you’re in poor health, it can be dangerous. Or, it can leave you feeling guilty or joyless in motherhood.
The time you take out of your day to exercise can fend off unhealthy thoughts and even keep you out of a depression. (The endorphins and sense of accomplishment do wonders.) But what really helped me after having my daughter was simply getting out of the house. I chose my local gym as my daily outing. Luckily, my gym has childcare for kids 8 weeks of age to 12. Just seeing a smiling ADULT face or exchanging a, “How’s it going?” with other moms made me feel like I wasn’t drowning in baby spit up. That was oddly important. And I’m pretty sure it led to the whole personal trainer thing. 😉
My Second Go with Postpartum Weight Loss
As you know, I’m a freshly certified personal trainer. By February 2018, I will have had two c-sections and two babies. On top of that, I decided to become a personal trainer in part due to my experience with postpartum depression (read about how I got certified here). Lastly, I really struggled to lose weight after having my daughter. So you could say that while I became a personal trainer for accountability (and because I enjoy working out), I did it for you. The struggling mama that needs help with her transition to motherhood.
Because every new mom struggles, and for some reason, even though millions of women have done it, we all feel alone sometimes.
Anyway, I started this blog and became a personal trainer knowing that I could use it to share my second postpartum weight loss journey with you. Even though we’re not quite there yet, (hurry up little guy!) I do have a lot more knowledge this time around. And perhaps, more importantly, I have a plan for my own postpartum weight loss that is flexible enough to keep me sane.
My Tips for Your Own Postpartum Weight Loss Journey:
1. Always wait to get clearance from your doctor before exercising.
This takes 6-8 weeks depending on your delivery and personal recovery timeline. Obviously you have to walk and operate, but the first 6 to 8 weeks after having your baby should be spent learning how to navigate your new life situation. Enjoy your baby and don’t even think about working out for a bit.
2. Don’t go extreme with any dietary changes.
There are a few reasons for this. It might be your instinct to return to a previous diet (let’s say, low-carb) after having your baby. But be wary of eliminating certain foods or dropping your caloric intake dramatically. It can affect your milk supply or hurt your baby’s tummy. Plus, with all of the non-sleeping activities you now find yourself doing, you need lots of healthy carbs for energy. If you want to help your body get back to a healthy place, focus on quality nutrition by slowly reintroducing yourself to foods your body may have rejected during pregnancy. For me, this tends to be greens (i.e. spinach).
3. Focus on core rehabilitation and stabilization.
Obviously, you’ve been a little stretched in the midsection. 😉 If you’ve had a c-section, you’ve reallllly been though some things in your core area. It’s so so so important to focus on core rehabilitation after a pregnancy. I remember my back hurting so much after having my daughter because it was trying to compensate for poor core strength from my abdominals. I neglected core recovery and had back problems forever. It wasn’t until I read my Personal Training textbook TWICE that I understood the importance of core strength. And now I know that’s the first thing I’ll be focusing on once I get cleared for exercise by my doctor. A great, gentle way to get started is just by walking. Here’s a good resource from NASM otherwise. I personally think you should focus on your core for 4-6 weeks or longer before expecting to jump back into your old workouts.
Important: If you have abdominal separation (diastasis recti) check out this important article before starting a core-training program.
The last word: enjoy your time with your new baby over everything else!