<> <> <>
Health Hub

Postpartum weight loss: Essential things you need to know

We're here to support you on your path to postpartum wellness.

Postpartum Weight Loss: How to Approach It Safely and Holistically | Juniper

Embarking on the journey of postpartum weight loss can be both exciting and challenging for new mums. It's a time filled with changes, both in your body and your daily routine.

We've put together everything you need to know about approaching postpartum weight loss in a healthy, sustainable, and realistic way. From setting achievable goals to making mindful choices about nutrition and exercise, we're here to support you on your path to postpartum wellness.

How long does it take to lose weight postpartum?

First of all, it's important to realise that losing weight after having a baby will be a gradual process, and it's important to be patient and kind to yourself. How long it takes to lose weight postpartum will be different for everyone and there's no golden rule for a postpartum weight loss timeline, but there are some general numbers we can let you in on.

Some studies suggest that most new mums take around 6 months to lose baby weight, losing about a pound per week on average [1]. In the first 6 weeks after delivery, you might notice that about half of the weight gained during pregnancy naturally comes off. The rest will continue to come off slowly over the next several months [2].

Plus, if you do decide to breastfeed, you may notice increased postpartum weight loss. That's because the process of breastfeeding burns extra calories [3]. But remember to avoid the temptation of seeking out rapid weight loss, as it can hinder your recovery, and if you're breastfeeding, it might affect your milk supply.

Each person's journey is unique, and setting realistic weight loss goals is essential. Extreme diets or cutting out important foods isn't recommended (or a sustainable way to lose weight). Instead, focus on nourishing your body with a healthy diet, especially during this postpartum period.

And don't forget to eat regular, balanced meals because skipping meals can lead to fatigue and mood swings, making it harder to stay active or exercise. Ultimately, taking care of yourself and your baby is the top priority, and taking the weight loss journey at your own pace is okay.

Why is postpartum weight hard to lose?

Losing weight after having a baby can be tricky, and there are several reasons for that. First, there are the hormonal changes that happen during and after pregnancy. They can change your metabolism and mood and can make shedding those extra pounds a bit tougher, leading to postpartum weight retention [4].

Plus, let's not forget the sleep struggle. New mums often don't get enough sleep, making it harder to find the energy to be active or exercise.

It's important to consume more calories while breastfeeding. This may sound like it will lead to weight gain, but breastfeeding can actually help you lose weight by burning those extra calories. But remember, if you don't eat enough, it might affect your breast milk supply.

The bottom line is that losing weight after giving birth is gradual. You've got to be patient with yourself and understand that your body probably won't snap back to its pre-baby weight instantly. Set realistic weight loss goals, eat a balanced diet, make time for some exercise, and don't forget to eat regularly.

Your body has just been through an incredible journey and bringing new life into the world is a big achievement. So make sure to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate all your body has done for you (and your baby), rather than punishing yourself for not instantly snapping back to your pre-pregnancy weight.

When can I start exercising after birth?

When it comes to jumping back into exercise after giving birth, the timing isn't one-size-fits-all. It depends on how your delivery went and if there were any complications. Here's what you should know.

If you had a C-section, extensive vaginal repair, or a complicated birth, it's crucial to chat with your healthcare provider before you lace up those sneakers. They can guide you on when it's safe to start an exercise routine.

For most new mums, it's a good idea to wait until after your 6-week postnatal checkup before diving into high-impact exercises like aerobics or running. This gives your body some extra time to heal.

If you had a relatively smooth pregnancy and delivered vaginally without any issues, you can usually start exercising a few days after giving birth, or whenever you feel up to it [5]. Here's a breakdown of a timeline most women can expect when getting back to their exercise routine [6]:

  • In weeks 7-12 of postpartum recovery, getting medical clearance and gradually incorporating strength, endurance, and power training is important to prepare for higher-impact exercises. This time should be focused on weight management, recovery, and slowly regaining feelings of strength.
  • Around the 8-10-week mark, you can consider adding impact exercises carefully. Muscular strength tasks like 8-12 repetitions with weights, including exercises like squats and calf raises, are suitable. Aim for 30 minutes of asymptomatic walking to boost endurance.
  • Beyond week 12, you can return to full activity, including running or sports. Consider a running-specific medical interview to create a tailored running plan aligned with your health goals.
  • Experts suggest that all women, within the first 24 hours of giving birth, can restart Kegel exercises and take a 30-minute daily walk if they feel up to it. These are great for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.

When you're ready to get back into more intense exercise, start with postpartum exercises designed to strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles. Gradually increase the intensity and duration over time.

Tips for approaching postpartum weight loss

While it's important to remember that this time of your life should be filled with self-care and bonding with your baby, it's also natural to want to take steps toward regaining your pre-pregnancy weight, fitness, and health. Here are some tips for approaching your postpartum weight loss journey.

  • First things first, set realistic goals that make sense for your postpartum journey. Losing weight after having a baby isn't a race. It's a gradual process that takes time and patience. Don't stress about eliminating certain foods or going on extreme diets.
  • Your diet plays a big role. Nourish your body with a well-balanced diet and healthy foods. Think healthy proteins, whole grains, fruits, and veggies. These foods will give you the energy you need and provide important postpartum nutrients.
  • Keep an eye on those portion sizes. Eating smaller, more frequent meals during the day can help you feel full and avoid overeating. It's all about finding a balance.
  • When it comes to exercise, start slow with low-impact activities like walking or simple postpartum exercises that strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles. Gradually increase the intensity and duration over time. Remember, you've just been through a lot, so be gentle with yourself and exercise wisely.
  • Sleep is your friend. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling tired and less motivated to stay active. So, try to get as much rest as you can, and sneak in naps whenever possible.
  • Be patient with yourself. Postpartum weight loss is a journey, and it's different for everyone. Your timeline is unique, so don't compare it to others.

In a nutshell, approaching postpartum weight loss is about balancing healthy eating, exercise, and self-care. Keep those goals realistic, eat well, move your body in a way that feels right for you, and don't forget to catch some z's. And most importantly, be kind to yourself throughout the process.

Ready to take the next step in your postpartum weight loss journey or feel like you need an extra helping hand? Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme provides a holistic approach to lasting change. Join a supportive community of like-minded women, access science-backed medications, healthcare professionals, and dietitians to tailor-make a weight loss program just for you. Your path to a healthier you starts here.

Photo credit: Sarah Chai / Pexels