Women, new to motherhood, are often taken aback by how insurmountable a task post pregnancy weight loss seems to be. Postpartum weight gain is a common phenomenon experienced by most mothers. If you are struggling to shed off your extra pounds after childbirth, don’t worry – you are not the only one.
Weight gain after pregnancy can be scientifically explained and should not be a cause of concern. This article will discuss what makes you gain weight after pregnancy, how to lose weight after pregnancy naturally, the average time taken to lose the baby weight, post pregnancy weight loss diet you can follow and food you should and should not eat to accelerate your post-pregnancy weight loss.
New mothers despair for their pre-pregnancy body and feel ashamed about all the weight they gain during and after pregnancy. Post-pregnancy weight gain is extremely natural and nothing to be ashamed of. The weight will go away as naturally as you had put it on. All you need to do is practice a few healthy lifestyle habits and understand the rhythm in which your body works. Any kind of weight loss needs you to cultivate a positive mindset and trust your efforts.
If you are motivated to lose your pregnancy weight, you need to follow your post pregnancy weight loss diet, eat the types of food recommended and leave out the ones inadvisable for mothers looking to lose weight. You will also need to maintain healthy activity levels. Going to a gym is not necessary, taking your child out for a walk in the stroller around your neighbourhood a couple of times will burn you a good deal of calories. Inculcating healthy routines such as getting adequate sleep, eating your meals on time and drinking the recommended amount of water for your body type will also go a long way in aiding your post-pregnancy weight loss.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right into why you gain all this extra weight after your pregnancy and how you can work to get rid of the same.
Table of Contents
- Post pregnancy weight gain
- Tips to lose post pregnancy weight
- Post-pregnancy diet plan
- Foods to eat
- Foods to avoid
- Frequently Asked Questions
Post pregnancy weight gain
Post pregnancy weight gain results from multiple factors. Our appetite increases when we are pregnant, due to the pregnancy hormone HCG entering our bloodstream, from the placenta. The HCG hormone regulates our digestion, metabolism, energy and nutrition distribution during pregnancy. We begin eating for two, but may not show excess weight gain in our bodily appearance as the fat and energy derived from the food we eat is first directed to our baby, and then to us. In fact, women are recommended to weigh a couple pounds extra during their pregnancy, as compared to their pre-pregnancy weight. The weight that we gain stays on with us, even post-childbirth. It is a mistaken assumption that this weight will fall off naturally or through breastfeeding.
On top of that, new mothers have to deal with stress, depression and in some cases, thyroid. Stress experienced by new mothers who now have their child to take care of releases cortisol into their bodies. Cortisol increases appetite and encourages fat storage in the lower abdominal area. Many mothers experience postpartum depression after pregnancy which inclines them to “eat their feelings”, causing further weight gain.
Sometimes, women experience symptoms of thyroid after undergoing childbirth. An under active thyroid can also worsen post pregnancy weight loss plans.
Tips to lose post pregnancy weight
Discussed below are a handful of tips on how to lose weight after pregnancy naturally
Drink plenty of water
Keeping yourself hydrated is good for your body in several ways. For one, it helps boost your metabolism. It also helps control your appetite by making you feel full. You don’t need to follow the stipulated water intake advisable for your BMI from the get-go, simply keep a watch over the transparency of your urine. If your urine isn’t clear, you will need to up your water intake, and if it comes out clear, you can rest assured that you are drinking an adequate amount of water.
You can follow a post pregnancy weight loss diet plan for post pregnancy weight loss. However, in most cases, following a post pregnancy weight loss diet won’t be enough to deliver the weight loss results you want. If you want to enjoy rapid weight loss after pregnancy, you have to include an exercise routine as part of your post pregnancy weight loss plan. Think of incorporating a weight training or aerobic workout to burn those calories and strengthen your muscles and bones. New mothers should try and keep time aside to exercise in their daily routines- not just for post pregnancy weight loss, it has numerous other benefits to offer. It can help them relieve the stress they are experiencing with a new baby in the house, perk up their mood and improve their sleep quality.
Don’t compromise on sleep
Now, this might seem like a tricky prospect with a toddler hankering for your attention 24/7, but lack of sleep can really affect your post pregnancy weight loss plans. When you are sleep-deprived, you tend to make unhealthy lifestyle choices like binge eating and drinking, which do nothing to help you lose weight. If you are exhausted throughout the day because you didn’t get ample sleep during the night, your body will release the cortisol hormone, which will aggravate your hunger pangs.
Have realistic expectations
Yes, celebrity post pregnancy weight loss stories may have you believe that you can go back to your pre-pregnancy body in a couple of months, but these stories are often not 100% true.
Even if they are – don’t forget they have an entire team working for them, charting out their post pregnancy weight loss journey. Research has found that the average time to lose baby weight can exceed a year. It could take a year or two for you to return to your pre-pregnancy body, if at all.
Keep healthy snacks close at hand
Breastfeeding mothers are subject to sudden hunger and spikes in their appetite. If not handled well, these hunger spikes could lead to weight gain. Instead, if you stock up on fruits, sprouts, vegetables, nuts and yoghurt to feed on, when hungry – you could help bring down the average time to lose the baby weight, in your case.
Join a post-pregnancy weight loss support group
Group-based weight loss can help keep you motivated on your post pregnancy weight loss journey.
Post-pregnancy diet plan
Your post pregnancy weight loss diet should never be a crash diet. You should be looking to lose your pregnancy weight gradually and effectively with a reliable post pregnancy weight loss diet plan. Women need between 1500-2200 calories daily to maintain regular bodily function. If you are breastfeeding, you should consume a minimum of 1800 calories, for the proper nourishment of both you and your body.
Aim to lose approximately 1.5 pounds on a weekly basis; you don’t want extremely rapid weight loss after pregnancy. If you lose weight too rapidly after your pregnancy, your body can release toxins into your blood contaminating your breast milk, which could prove severely harmful for the nursing child. If you’ve been consuming calories above the bare minimum, try to cut down 500 calories daily from your diet. You could do this by either eating smaller portions or increasing your activity levels.
Most post pregnancy weight loss diet plans advice new mothers to eat 5-6 small meals in a day interspersed with healthy snacks. They also ask women to try to avoid skipping meals, as this does more harm than good, and they end up eating in excess at other meals. Never miss breakfast, especially when you’re following a post pregnancy weight loss diet plan. It will keep you from feeling an energy lag later in the day and help you get your daily tasks done in a more focused manner.
Foods to eat
After you’ve made up your mind to get started on your post pregnancy weight loss diet plan, make sure that you are eating the right food products in alignment with your goal. The following food products will help you:
Food rich in fiber improves your digestive health. Consuming soluble fiber keeps your hunger hormones in check and helps you eat less as a result.
Lean meat, eggs, fish, dairy and other sources of healthy protein can boost your metabolism and bring down your calorie intake by decreasing your appetite.
Complex carbohydrates provide you with energy all around the day, as they take longer to break down.
Unsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats
Don’t stop consuming fat completely in a bid to lose weight post-pregnancy. Instead, eat food rich in unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which keep your body healthy and improve cardiac function.
Foods to avoid
There are certain food items you must avoid if you want to succeed in your post pregnancy weight loss. These are:
Food with added sugar and/or refined carbohydrates
Food rich in sugar and refined carbs have low nutrient value and yet, are high in calories. Consuming food with high calorific value and low nutrient value can increase your weight, up your risk of developing heart health issues, cancer and diabetes. Try to steer clear of fizzy and sugary drinks and other such processed food variants such as packaged biscuits, cakes and the like. Opt for whole foods instead. If you must consume something sweet, go for desserts from an organic bakery as opposed to processed and packaged cookies.
Processed food products
As already discussed, processed food is unhealthy for you. Fast food and pre-packed food are examples of processed food, high in sugar, unhealthy fat, calories and salt. All of these are detrimental to your weight loss efforts. Try to consume nutrient-dense, fresh whole foods like fruits and vegetables instead.
Alcohol is calorie-dense, but it provides no nutrition. Alcohol consumption also leads to belly fat. Not only does it counteract your postpartum weight loss attempts, but it can also be unhealthy for your baby. Minimal amounts of alcohol can be passed over to your child via your breast milk. Alcohol consumption can also temporarily reduce your breast milk volume. Not to mention, the dependency you might develop which would interfere with your regular sleep quality.
Hopefully, our article helped you in understanding how to lose weight after pregnancy naturally. To conclude, we will try to comprehend the average time to lose the baby weight by a new mother. It is generally recommended that mothers don’t weigh themselves at least until two weeks after pregnancy. Even then, measuring waist size is probably a better idea as their weight won’t be reflective of their body fat only.
Mothers on a post-pregnancy weight loss diet plan may begin to show results of their weight loss efforts from the first month after conceiving itself. Women are medically advised to gain 25-30 pounds during their pregnancy to be able to amply nourish their baby. Some mothers can lose up to 20 pounds in the first month itself, meaning, they may already be back to their pre-baby body.
Six weeks from your date of conception, you will notice that your belly now looks flatter and smaller. If you have been successful in sticking to your postpartum weight loss endeavours, you will most likely have returned to your original weight before pregnancy, a couple of months post it. Generally, nine months is the average time to lose baby weight, unless you had gained extra weight during your pregnancy. However, this is no blanket rule. Every woman loses their post-pregnancy weight on their own time, depending on the diet they are eating and the amount of exercise they are getting daily.
Don’t give in to fad diets hoping for rapid weight loss after pregnancy; it will harm you and your baby. Eat a healthy diet rich in proteins, complex carbs and fiber, drink enough water and get some much-needed rest and the occasional exercise, besides running after your child and you should be good. You will have lost all the excess weight giving you grief in no time at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: It depends on the weight gain. Woman can aim to lose 2 kg per month post pregnancy.
A: No, not at all. If you maintain your lifestyle balance which includes your diet, physical activity, sleep and water intake, you can easily lose weight and stay healthy.
A: Breast feeding itself is an extensive activity which burns many calories, especially if you feed in sitting position. Along with this, if you eat a well balanced diet rich in protein and fiber, eat small and frequent meals, take minimum 10-12 glasses of water, maintain some regular physical activity like walking, etc. then you can easily lose belly fat.
A: There are several reasons why women gain weight post pregnancy
1. Erratic and irregular eating pattern, and long gaps between each meal.
2. It’s important to eat calorie rich food to meet lactation needs, but it is required to get calories from protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and good fat sources. Most people tend to focus on eating simple carbs and fats like panjeeris, oily fried foods, sweets, desserts, cereals , refined products etc.
3. Less intake of water
4. Poor sleeping pattern
5. Lack of activity
It’s different for everybody. In my case, I gained 25lbs. After giving birth, I was immediately down to my pre-pregnancy weight. A week after that, I lost another 10lbs. I’m not very active, but I haven’t had much time to eat with my newborn and toddler. I still have a lot of the cravings and hunger from pregnancy 3 weeks later, but they are slowly going away.
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Hi Deepesh, Thank you so much for your feedback.