Having trouble losing weight after pregnancy? Want to plan your postpartum weight loss strategy? Read these super-helpful tips on losing weight after pregnancy.
Hi, I’m Chantal! I’m a two-time c-section mama and NASM certified personal trainer. I know what it is to struggle with postpartum weight loss, and I know what to expect as far as exercise after having a baby. So today, I want to share tips on losing weight after pregnancy. Because let’s be honest, it’s a big task!
Losing weight after pregnancy is on the mind of almost any newly postpartum mom.
Moreover, many women think about how they’re going to lose the baby weight well before their baby is even born. We’re almost all thinking, “How can I lose the baby weight fast? What are the best ways to lose weight after pregnancy?”
That was TOTALLY me.
While some moms can exercise like normal during pregnancy, many can’t. And for most women, the last trimester is an uncomfortable time during which working out at full capacity is out of the question.
Then there is, of course, the postpartum period during which most moms don’t exercise other than walking.
If you’re a c-section mom, you will likely be advised not to do anything more than walking for eight weeks postpartum.
(This was my experience – I was even told not to climb stairs or vacuum!)
So if you’re like me and will likely end your pregnancy with several months of weight gain and muscle mass loss, this is for you!
I was already thinking about my plan-of-action for losing weight after pregnancy well before my third trimester. In fact, with my first baby, I was concerned about losing the baby weight as soon as I got pregnant.
I did a fair amount of research (and by that I mean an embarrassing amount) about working out while pregnant, how to avoid stretch marks, and losing weight after having a baby with my first child.
I had these big plans and ambitious goals about losing the baby weight.
With my second baby, I had more realistic expectations about how soon I could lose my pregnancy weight gain.
Either way, the formula for losing weight after pregnancy ended up being the same. The tips I have for you today will work whether you are on your first baby or your sixth!
Don’t Forget About Balance + Giving Yourself Grace
Now that I’m older and a tiny bit wiser, I want to make sure that you know what I already do. Here’s the deal – the postpartum time shouldn’t be just about your body. It should be about bonding with your baby and finding balance in your new life with a new human to look after.
Obviously, a healthy mom is going to result in a healthy baby, but you have to find balance.
What I found out after having my first baby was that it can be all too easy to crumble under the pressure you place upon yourself.
So while I think that we should have health goals and some expectations for ourselves during this time, it can backfire to make our goals too strict or stringent. That’s definitely what happened for me.
Tips On Losing Weight After Pregnancy – Not All About A Number
Keep in mind that your body is going to naturally lose weight while you recovery from birth.
Not all weight lost is going to be in fat initially. You will also lose blood, water weight/bloat, while gaining muscle mass and maybe gaining weight in your boobs.
You will find that just because you lose weight doesn’t always mean that you’re more toned or stronger.
Because of this, I would encourage you to start your weight loss journey after having a baby at the 6-to-8 week mark.
This way, you’ll have lost most of the fluid weight you’re going to. You’ll also have put on any breastfeeding weight you might gain. (In liquid and infrastructure in the breasts.) You can then get a better picture of “true” weight loss, or loss of actual fat.
Moreover, I would encourage you to track your water weight and body fat percentage.
This way, you can see how much fluid retention you’re dealing with, as well as how much muscle you’re gaining. (Since so many women lose muscle mass during pregnancy.)
To do this, you can have your body stats taken with a professional scale (such as an InBody scan, which can be found in gyms or at some supplement stores). I did this for many years before buying my own smart scale to use at home.
This gives me a comprehensive and detailed breakdown of the composition of my body. (Here is the scale that I got from Amazon, which is totally great and affordable.) It’s incredibly helpful, especially during seasons of your life where your body is changing majorly and the weight can be skewed by many factors.
When you’re ready to start focusing on losing the baby weight or getting back into your regular exercise routine, try these tips on losing weight after pregnancy!
7 Tips On Losing Weight After Pregnancy
1. Start walking as soon as you can.
Most moms are instructed not to do any exercise other than walking in the first several weeks postpartum. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, walking does use a large number of muscles. This includes your core! Practice walking with good posture, keeping your core engaged.
If you’re baby-wearing, try not to lean back to accommodate for the baby in front. If you are curving your back too much, this can result in back pain and muscle spasms.
Walking should be your first real exercise after having baby, but it can still feel like a lot of work in the first few weeks postpartum. Work your way up to 30-45 minute walks and increase your walking frequency. You’ll start feeling stronger in no time…and that’s what needs to happen before you start any serious exercise!
2. Increase your water intake.
This is especially important if you are breastfeeding, but it should happen no matter what. Your body still has a lot of stuff to flush out after your get home from the hospital. To avoid feeling lightheaded, sick, or lethargic as your body continues to eliminate extra blood and other fluids, you’ll need to increase your water intake.
This also helps your milk supply, aids digestion, and keeps you feeling full when you have a habit of overeating. I always suggest having a large, designated water bottle or tumbler just for water. Make a goal of drinking at least 80 ounces of water per day and you’ll feel better! It also helps you avoid drinking unnecessary calories.
3. Focus on your core first.
Walking will help to strengthen your core, especially if you’ve had a c-section. But regardless of your birth-style, your abdominal muscles and other supporting core muscles have been stretched and “deconditioned.”
This means that they require some strengthening before you get into any high-intensity or weight-bearing exercise.
Some women experience abdominal separation (diastasis recti) after pregnancy, which requires special attention. However, all postpartum women are susceptible to injury and back pain if they don’t take the time to strengthen their deep pelvic floor muscles and core as a whole. (I did not have abdominal separation after my pregnancies but I had severe back pain and muscle spasms in my back after both kids.)
So take the time to do some ab rehab before you start a serious workout plan. Here are a few helpful resources:
- Restore The Core Workout Program
- 5 Tips On Postpartum Core Restoration from A Physical Therapist
- Core Exercises For Beginners | 5 Essential Exercises
4. Start with low-intensity exercise.
If you jump into hard exercise right away after having a baby, you’re likely to run into a few problems.
First of all, you could end up feeling totally defeated when you find out that your body is just not the same as it was before. This happened to me and the frustration was devastating to my overall postpartum weight loss strategy. I ended up kind of depressed and that actually made me gain more weight after my initial weight loss after my first baby. I’m still recovering from that!
Secondly, you could suffer an injury that sets you back even more. This also happened to me. I started trying to run and lift way too soon, and this left me with back spasms that forced me to stay in bed for a week or more after both kids. I had to take intense pain killers and muscle relaxers after both kids because my back pain was that bad.
So – you should avoid high-intensity, high-weight bearing exercises that cause too much strain. You should also avoid jumping and other exercises that have significant impact on your body. (Again, every woman is different, so it’s important to just listen to your body.)
Yoga, walking, Pilates, swimming, and casual bike riding/cycling might be good places to start.
5. Measure your progress with non-scale victories.
The number on the scale is very hard to understand when you’ve just had a baby. Things just aren’t normal – your uterus is changing in size, your muscle mass has changed, your skin is stretched, and your boobs are full. You’re also still probably eliminating blood and other fluids.
The point is that in the first few weeks postpartum, stepping on the scale is a BAD idea because it doesn’t tell you important things like how strong you are. Your body fat and muscle mass aren’t taken into consideration, and neither is water retention.
So my suggestion here is to not focus on the scale until you are able to get to that 6-8 week mark. At this point, your body will be somewhat back to “normal” in terms of fluids and the size of your uterus. Your milk should be in if you are breastfeeding, and if you were to take a body scan or take measurements, they would be more accurate.
So, you can focus on these non-scale victories, or you can simply take body measurements to help you gauge progress. Otherwise, you run the risk of disappointment. Protect yourself from obsession with the scale. It can be detrimental. Trust me on this one!
6. Focus on reducing sugar and low-quality carbs.
During both of my pregnancies, I struggled to eat normally. I ended up eating a lot of carbs and a lot of “whatever.” The result was some pretty bad habits being solidified by the end of each pregnancy.
Instead of focusing on cutting out any major groups of food or being overly strict, I simply suggest focusing on creating a few new healthy habits.
In particular, reducing sugar, processed foods, and refined carbs.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat bread, pasta, or any of your favorite treats. It simply means that you’re going to cut back and improve the quality of your carb intake.
So opt for whole grain and Organic when you can, and reduce your sugary-drink intake.
This will add up to big results over time.
7. Keep your goals reasonable and realistic.
Learning how to set realistic postpartum weight loss goals is important. Because I feel that weight loss is very mental and emotional, I always recommend that you stay super self-aware of the goals you have set for yourself. If you are setting big, unrealistic goals without a clear plan, you may end up sabotaging yourself.
This can turn into mental and emotional torture!
So set specific goals that you are actually likely to achieve, and keep them small. As you progress, your motivation and goals can grow big-time!
Tip: Don’t just set weight-related goals. You should also be setting goals related to strength, endurance, body measurements, etc. Make sure that you don’t only focus on the scale!
I wish you the best of luck losing weight after pregnancy. It’s tough but I know you can do it!