How Much Weight Do You Naturally Lose After Giving Birth

Most women lose around 13 pounds (6 kg) right after childbirth, which includes the baby’s weight, as well as the weight of the amniotic fluid and placenta.

Quickest Way To Lose Weight After Having a Baby

If you’ve recently given birth, you may be eager to lose some of that baby weight. The good news is that with good nutrition, exercise, and a little patience, you can drop most of the weight you gained during pregnancy. Read on to learn all about how to safely lose weight after having a baby and how long that might take, as well as how breastfeeding can help shed some pounds.

How Much Weight Might You Need to Lose?

Before you start your weight loss journey, it’s helpful to know where your pregnancy weight gain actually comes from. Yes, your cravings for ice cream may play a role, but you may actually have less weight to lose than you think!

Your baby, for example, contributes about 7 to 8 pounds to your “weight gain” and the rest is associated with

  • larger breasts (1 to 3 pounds)
  • larger uterus (2 pounds)
  • placenta (1.5 pounds)
  • amniotic fluid (2 pounds)
  • increased blood volume (3 to 4 pounds)
  • increased fluid volume (2 to 3 pounds)
  • fat stores (6 to 8 pounds).

Your recommended weight gain during pregnancy involves factors such as your pre-pregnancy body mass index, or BMI, and whether you are pregnant with one baby or two.

How much weight you actually gain during pregnancy can depend on many other factors, such as general health status and lifestyle choices such as doing prenatal exercise and following a healthy pregnancy diet.

Because everyone’s situation is unique, it’s safest to speak to your healthcare provider about how many pounds it’s recommended for you to gain during pregnancy, as well as how many pounds it’s healthy to lose afterwards.

How Long Will It Take to Get Back Into Shape?

The good news is that you might lose as much as 20 pounds (9 kg) in the first few weeks after giving birth. On average, new moms lose around 13 pounds (6 kg) due to the baby’s weight, the amniotic fluid, and the placenta when giving birth. The week after you deliver, you’ll likely shed several more pounds as you lose other retained fluids, like any extra water you’ve retained or the extra blood your body produced during pregnancy.

Although you’ll notice your weight drops very quickly to start with, you may find the scale seems to get stuck. It will take several months to shift the fat you gained during pregnancy.

It might take about 6 to 12 months to get close to your pre-pregnancy weight. Losing one to two pounds a week is what experts recommend as healthy for most women.

Your body needs time to recover and heal after pregnancy and childbirth, so try not to rush the process. It’s a tremendous accomplishment to carry and nurture a baby during the weeks and months of pregnancy, so avoid putting pressure on yourself to “bounce back” into shape immediately.

Postpartum Recovery Tips For New Moms: Nurses Know

Tips for Losing Weight After Pregnancy

Just like at any other time in life, losing weight after pregnancy means using up more calories than you consume. You can lose the extra pounds gained during pregnancy by combining consistent healthy eating habits with regular postpartum exercise over the course of several months.

Nutrition

First of all, it’s important to avoid crash diets or drastic calorie restrictions as your body needs the energy and nutrients from healthy food to recover after pregnancy and childbirth.

For sustainable weight loss, focus on reducing portion sizes, avoiding sugary and salty meals and snacks, and following a healthy diet that includes

  • lean protein from a variety of sources
  • whole grains
  • fruits
  • vegetables.

If you’re eating pretty well but still struggling to shake those last few pounds, experts recommend cutting back on any of those extra treats that are sneaking into your diet like desserts, fried food, and sodas.

Your healthcare provider can give you a personalized postpartum diet to follow if you need specific guidance on what to eat.

Exercise

Exercise, when coupled with a healthy diet, can help you get back into shape. It also has other benefits, like boosting your energy levels, improving your mood, reducing stress, and helping you become strong and fit.

Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning or resuming exercise after childbirth. Once you get the all-clear you can start exercising whenever you feel ready. Some new moms can start to work out sooner than others, even a few days within vaginal delivery. Just listen to your body.

You may need to wait longer if you had a complicated labor or delivery. For example, if you had a cesarean section, your healthcare provider may recommend waiting about four to six weeks before starting to exercise again.

Once you are ready to get started, follow these tips for postpartum exercise:

  • Get back into exercise slowly. There is no need to rush back into exercise. Just take it slow and easy at first, and at a pace that suits you. Listen to your body and gradually work your way up to more challenging workouts.
  • Involve your baby. It’s not always easy to find the time to exercise with a little one around, so why not include your baby in your new movement routine? A brisk daily walk with your baby in his stroller is a great way to get back into moving again. Or, you could do postnatal yoga with your baby on the floor next to you on a blanket or in a swing or bouncer if you have one.
  • Exercise with others. Why not plan to meet up with friends or a family member and go for a walk together, or join a postpartum fitness class so that you can meet other moms and work out as a group. Exercising with others can be more fun, and it gives you a chance to combine exercise with socializing.
  • Feed your baby before exercising. If you’re breastfeeding, you may want to feed your baby before your workout. This way you won’t have to worry about the discomfort of engorged breasts.
  • Aim for 60 to 90 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Experts recommend getting moving most days of the week. This can include walking, biking, swimming, or even doing physical chores like gardening. It can be super hard to juggle your time while caring for a baby, so it might help to split your exercise up into of 30-minute chunks. For example, do a 30-minute yoga, strength training, or aerobics video at home in the morning, go on a 30-minute walk with your baby during the day between his naps, and then do some housework that gets your body moving later in the day. This is just an example—with some trial and error you’ll figure out what works for you and your family.
  • Add gentle strength training and core exercises. Consider adding pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen your core, and ease into strength training with the help of a video or an app, or working with a personal trainer.
  • Ask for help. When you want to go for a run or take a class at the gym, for example, have your partner, a babysitter, or a family member watch your baby. Beyond the benefits of exercise, you might enjoy the “me time” this gives you. And, if you loved exercising before your pregnancy, you might be really looking forward to getting back to doing these workouts now that your baby is born. It can be tricky to juggle, but with a little help you may be able to incorporate the exercise you love most into your week.
  • Spice it up. It can be hard to stay motivated with exercise if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. But exercise doesn’t have to be boring! Check out all our postpartum workout ideas and try a few to see what works for you.

Getting Help From Your Healthcare Provider

Diet and exercise are the best ways to lose weight healthily for most women, but in some cases, your healthcare provider may need to step in. The following options might be considered if you have a BMI above 30 or have certain medical conditions along with a high BMI.

  • Medication. If you haven’t been able to get your BMI below 30 with lifestyle changes alone, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help with weight loss.
  • Surgery. This may be recommended by your healthcare provider only if medications don’t work, and if you have an exceptionally high BMI.

Your healthcare provider may be able to help you with things like meal plans, safe exercises you can do in the postpartum period, and guidance on how much weight is safe for you to lose in a given time frame.

Can Breastfeeding Help With Postpartum Weight Loss?

The good news is that breastfeeding can help you lose some of that baby weight. When you breastfeed, you are using the fat cells stored in your body along with calories you’re consuming in your diet to create milk for your baby.

Just keep in mind that aggressive weight loss (by cutting too many calories, for example), can reduce your breast milk supply so you definitely want to avoid this.

Breastfeeding is all about keeping your little one nourished, so try to follow a breastfeeding diet that helps both of you stay healthy.

FAQs at a Glance

How long does it usually take to lose weight after having a baby?

It may take up to 6 to 12 months to lose the baby weight.

How much weight do you lose after pregnancy?

The Bottom Line

Weight gain during pregnancy is necessary and natural, but it’s understandable to want to lose weight after having a baby. As long as you have a healthy lifestyle and follow your healthcare provider’s advice, you’ll find that the weight will gradually come off, and slowly you’ll get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.

The key is to be patient with yourself and your body. Eat well and exercise because it makes you feel great, and focus on how amazing your baby is as well as all the good things in your life right now. Your postnatal well-being is as important as the number on the scales, so be kind to yourself and give your body enough time to adjust.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

Home Remedies for Weight Loss After Delivery

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.

So rather than focusing on “getting your body back” (it actually didn’t go anywhere!), put your efforts towards creating a healthy, happy, and — possibly slightly differently-shaped — you. Here’s how to do just that.

How much weight do you lose after giving birth?

Most women shed around 13 pounds after giving birth, whether they delivered vaginally or via C-section. The majority of that comes, of course, from your baby — since most new bundles weigh between 5 ½ and 8 ¾ pounds.

The rest of that initial weight loss comes from delivering the placenta and the loss of the amniotic fluids that surrounded your baby in the womb. You may lose a little more during that first week postpartum simply by shedding retained fluids. (If it feels like you’re peeing and sweating more than usual, that’s why!)

Considering that women of average weight should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy, this loss is healthy start. But it’s not everything, of course. Your body is still holding onto extra weight from the fat stores you gained over the course of your pregnancy, which won’t disappear so quickly. 

And even if you are close to your pre-pregnancy weight shortly after giving birth, your body will still likely look a little different than what you’re used to. As your uterus shrinks back down to its pre-pregnancy size (which usually takes about six weeks), your stomach will still appear round and swollen.

How long does it take to lose weight after pregnancy?

Many women who gained the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy find they’re able to return to their old weight within six months to a year after giving birth — which experts say is a reasonable goal.

But that’s just an estimate, and ultimately, everyone’s timeline is unique. If you gained more than the recommended amount of weight during your pregnancy, for instance, it could take extra time — from 10 months to two years — to bounce back.

Keep in mind, too, that even once you reach that familiar number on the scale, your body might not look exactly as it did. Some women notice that their belly is softer, their hips are wider or their breasts are smaller (particularly if they breast-fed) after having a baby. 

And that’s more than okay. It’s amazing! All these changes are the result of the incredible physical feat of growing your child and bringing her into the world — and they deserve to be celebrated. 

Does breastfeeding help you lose weight?

It can. Your body burns between 400 and 500 calories per day making breast milk, which come from your diet as well as the fat you stored during pregnancy. That calorie-burning boost is enough to help some moms get back to their pre-pregnancy weight without doing much else.

Breastfeeding also stimulates the release of hormones that help shrink your uterus and your post-baby belly.

Even so, breastfeeding isn’t a guaranteed ticket back to your pre-baby body, and you shouldn’t necessarily look at it that way. In fact, many moms find that they eat more than usual while breastfeeding because they’re so much hungrier, which in turn means they hold onto that last five to 10 pounds of baby weight.

That amped-up appetite is completely normal — your body needs more calories to fuel your milk production. What’s more, ignoring your appetite or deliberately trying to cut back too much on your food intake could potentially put a damper on your milk supply. Moms often find that they shed those last few pounds once they stop nursing and their appetites return to normal. Just be sure you don’t continue to eat the extra 400 to 500 calories a day after you’re finished breastfeeding.

If breastfeeding alone isn’t enough to help you return to your old weight, experts agree that it’s safe to adjust your food intake and exercise to try to lose up to 1 ½ pounds per week. But steer clear of crash diets that promise faster weight loss — they could affect how much milk you produce.  

What foods should be in your post-baby diet?

Since your body needs ample rest and nutrition to recover from delivery, fend off infection and feed your baby, you shouldn’t even think about dieting until your baby is at least 6 weeks old or older — no matter how anxious you are to squeeze back into your pre-pregnancy clothes.

Once you feel ready to start a post-baby diet and you’ve gotten the okay from your doctor, make sure you’re still eating enough calories. Crash dieting isn’t just risky for you: If you’re breastfeeding and don’t eat enough calories, your body ends up producing less milk — which means your hungry, growing baby goes on a diet with you.

What’s more, burning fat too quickly (more than 1 ½ pounds per week) can trigger the release of toxins that end up in breast milk and can cause your body to lose water and lean tissue. Even if you’re not nursing, eating too few calories can make your body think you’re starving. This confusion can actually slow down your metabolism, making it harder to shed those extra pounds in the long run.

Remember, if you’re nursing, your calorie needs are even greater during the first six months after delivery than they were during the last trimester of pregnancy. Your doctor can help determine exactly how many calories you should be eating, since the number will vary depending on your BMI before pregnancy and your activity level.

To put things into perspective, the average woman needs about 2,000 calories a day, and breastfeeding women should tack on an extra 400 to 500 calories to maintain their current weight.

To lose a pound, though, you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week, or 500 calories fewer per day, by eating less or exercising more — which means the average breastfeeding woman would be back at 2,000 calories per day to lose about a pound a week.

Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, when choosing foods to support your weight loss, you can stick with the same healthy eating principles you followed during your pregnancy: Fill up on wholesome, nutrient-dense picks that will keep you satisfied and limit the empty-calorie snacks. Strive to have moderate portions of foods like:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Fresh or frozen are both great choices, so take your pick.
  • Whole grains. Think oatmeal, whole wheat bread or pasta, brown rice or quinoa.
  • Lean protein. Low-mercury fish and shellfish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, tofu and beans or legumes are all good choices.
  • Low-fat dairy. Try plain yogurt, milk, cheese or cottage cheese.
  • Healthy fats. Think nuts, seeds, avocado or olive oil.

When can you start exercising after giving birth?

Getting moving can help support your weight loss efforts and give you a much-needed energy boost. So it’s worth saying yes to working out when your body feels ready.

It’s fine to start engaging in light exercise a few days after birth if you exercised before pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. If you had a C-section or experienced complications during birth, you may need to wait at least six weeks before resuming physical activity. But it’s best to get the official go-ahead from your doctor before getting started.

In either case, keep in mind that just because you’re cleared for exercise doesn’t mean you have to start right away. If you feel like you need a little more time, there’s no rush.

When you do start exercising, aim to move for 20 to 30 minutes a day, broken up into shorter chunks if need be. Start with exercises designed to strengthen your weakened core muscles and back like modified crunches, or light aerobic activity like walking. You can gradually up the intensity as you feel ready, but never exercise to the point of exhaustion. 

Tips to help you stay healthy after giving birth

Sure, you might be excited to get back into your old clothes. But broadening your focus from weight loss to making healthy choices will help you get back into shape without the pressure. These tips can help you stay on track:

  • Team up. Support is a must for maintaining healthy habits with a baby — so get your partner on board. Take a walk instead of watching TV after dinner, and make a commitment to choosing healthier foods together. Take turns prepping healthy meals while the other watches the baby instead of ordering takeout.
  • Keep healthy snacks handy. Those need-to-eat-now feelings can come out of nowhere, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Having wholesome nibbles within grabbing distance — think fresh fruit, nuts, plain yogurt or sliced veggies with hummus — means you’ll be less tempted to reach for the half-eaten ice cream pint at the back of the freezer.
  • Find activities you love. Hate slogging it on the treadmill? Don’t do it. You’ll be more likely to stick with workouts for the long haul if you enjoy them.  
  • Don’t discount the small stuff. Squeeze even a little extra activity into your daily routine. Every step counts, so don’t discount the little things: You’d be amazed by how many calories you’ll burn from a number of everyday activities.
  • Don’t be all or nothing. Everyone deserves a treat now and then, especially new moms. Try to eat healthy 80 percent of the time, but don’t deprive yourself of that cookie or ice cream cone when you’re really in the mood.
  • Stay positive. Focus on what you’ve accomplished so far and the weight you’ve already lost, and remember that fitness is about more than the number you see on the scale. 

Above all, give yourself the same patience and grace you’d give a close friend who was in your shoes. Remember that it took you nine months to gain the weight, so it’s completely normal for it to take that long to lose it (or even longer — you’ve got a baby to care for now!)Even more important, don’t forget that you created a fabulous human being who adores you — all of you. So instead of staring at your tummy, take a peek at your beautiful baby and cut yourself some slack. 

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