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Postpartum Weight Loss

Gaining weight during pregnancy is natural and healthy. The CDC recommends that women within a healthy weight range pre-pregnancy gain about 20 to 25 pounds (11.5 to 16 kg) during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is a lot of pressure to lose the “baby weight” postpartum. While it is essential to lose the extra pounds, especially if you are to get pregnant again, there are some realistic expectations to consider.

Pregnancy Weight Gain and Causes

Weight gain during pregnancy will range from woman to woman, and your healthcare provider may have specific recommendations for you.

Experts say weight gain is primarily due to:

  • The baby
  • Placenta
  • Amniotic fluid
  • Breast tissue
  • Blood
  • Uterus enlargement
  • Extra fat stores

While the CDC generally recommends a weight gain of about 20-25 pounds or 11.5 to 16 kg, the CDC also states that most women will gain more.

Weight gain during pregnancy is essential to meet the needs of mother and child. Babies born too small can have an increased risk for illness, have developmental delays, and struggle to breastfeed.

To gain weight during pregnancy healthily and effectively, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Work with your healthcare provider.
  • Tack your pregnancy weight gain regularly.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Limit sugars and solid fats.
  • Know your calorie needs.
  • Work up to or maintain at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.

Postpartum Weight Loss

Due to unrealistic societal expectations, women can feel pressured to lose all the “baby weight” quickly. Realistically, it takes between 6 and 12 months to lose all baby weight postpartum. About half the weight is lost within the first six weeks after childbirth.

Keep in mind, the women’s body goes through incredible changes from pregnancy to childbirth to postpartum. It is required that moms gain weight for their little one to grow properly, and it can take time to lose for a variety of reasons, from stress and inadequate sleep to inactivity, etc.

Here are eight recommendations to help moms lose weight postpartum:

  1. Listen to your doctor’s advice for when you may change your diet and become active.
  2. Do not crash diet! Crash dieting is unhealthy and not sustainable. Opt for a nutritious, balanced diet.
  3. Try breastfeeding if you can. It can help moms lose weight.
  4. Manage stress by speaking with loved ones or professionals, asking trusted family or friends to help you, practicing meditating, and staying active.
  5. Eat whole foods, including plenty of protein. 
  6. Include your baby in exercise by taking daily walks.
  7. Enlist the support and partnership with a trusted loved one to exercise and meal plan together.
  8. Take your time and be realistic with weight loss goals.

Postpartum Weight Loss Takes Time

After a body has gone through the life-changing miracle of pregnancy and childbirth, we recommend you try and be gentle with yourself. Many moms will lose half or more of the pregnancy weight during the first six weeks postpartum, but every woman is different. If you’re struggling to lose weight postpartum, check in with your healthcare provider for help.