While many of us wish we could magically lose all those extra pregnancy pounds the moment baby finally arrives, the fact is no one (not even celebs!) snaps right back to her pre-baby body so quickly.
Wondering how much weight you can expect to lose right after labor and delivery? Depending on the size of your newborn (usually between five and 10 pounds) and precise weight of your amniotic fluid and placenta (which you deliver at birth), most pregnant women can lose up to 12 pounds during delivery. Considering that women of average weight should gain between 25 and 35 pounds in pregnancy, that’s a healthy start!
So where do the rest of those pounds come from? Your breast tissue, blood supply, fat stores, and enlarged uterus. In fact, giving birth might not shrink your baby belly very much at all — at least for the first six weeks, until your uterus shrinks back to around its pre-pregnancy size.
There are lots of things you can do to get into shape again. But it’s really important to give yourself a break: Your body just birthed another being. Things moved around, stretched and grew to make that happen. Don’t focus on “getting your body back” (it actually didn’t go anywhere!) but on creating a healthy, happy, and — possibly slightly differently shaped — you.
Setting Realistic Weight-Loss Goals after Baby
After you deliver, you will slowly lose weight. You may want to speed things along by working with your doctor to set a safe, reasonable goal. A good rule of thumb is to lose no more than one and a half pounds per week (that is, a calorie deficit of 3,500 to 5,250 calories per week, or 500 to 750 a day).
While many new mothers ditch the bulk of their pregnancy pounds by baby’s 6-month birthday, everyone sheds weight at their own pace. Many factors have been proven to affect your weight loss journey — including your age (your metabolism slows down by about 2 percent every decade after age 25, so you burn fewer calories at rest as you age), your diet (when you eat more protein than carbs and eat larger meals earlier in the day, your body burns more calories and works more efficiently), activity level (the more you move, the more calories you burn), and your natural metabolism, which is determined by your genes.
Keep in mind, too, that especially if you gained more than 35 pounds during your pregnancy, it could take extra time (from 10 months to two years) to bounce back.
Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
Although shedding 10, 20 or more pounds post-baby might seem insurmountable, it may take less “work” — or at least hours pounding it out on the treadmill — than you might think. That’s because, as many new moms will attest, breastfeeding helps melt off the pounds in record time. In fact, depending on how much milk you produce, breastfeeding can burn up about 500 calories per day.
What’s more, it stimulates the release of hormones that help shrink your uterus (and your post-baby belly). Unfortunately contrary to what you might have heard, you don’t need to hold on to an extra five pounds of weight as a reserve while you breastfeed (so those last few stubborn pounds might actually require some extra sweat sessions at the gym).
After you stop breastfeeding, your body has less work to do — which means it burns fewer calories than it did when you were nursing. However, at the same time, you may notice that weaning naturally decreases your appetite — your body’s natural way of putting you on the right kind of diet (so listen to it!).
You’ll likely feel more free (and comfortable) to increase your activity level, too. So when you stop nursing, don’t worry too much about packing on the pounds you lost. Lifestyle changes can help keep your metabolism churning — and while you’ll need to scale back on calories a bit, you can prevent those numbers on your bathroom scale from creeping back up.
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