Sudden Weight Loss 6 Months Postpartum

Often, excess or rapid postpartum weight loss is due to lifestyle issues and the pressures of new parenthood (like being too tired to eat), other times there may be a health concern that needs treatment. Either way, help is out there. So, if you’re worried about losing too much weight, contact your doctor.

Why Am I Gaining Weight After Pregnancy

After you have your baby, you will typically lose a little weight right away as the body adjusts and sheds fluids. After that, weight loss varies from person to person. Many women worry about not being able to lose all the weight they gain. However, some people quickly lose more weight than is desirable after giving birth. Rapid or excessive postpartum weight loss may occur due to lifestyle factors or from a medical issue.

Typical Postpartum Weight Loss

Immediately after your baby is born, you will lose about 10 to 12 pounds. That’s a combination of your newborn’s weight plus the placenta and the amniotic fluid. Then, during the next few days, you will lose about 5 more pounds of water weight. After that, it’s typical and healthy to lose approximately 2 pounds a month for the next six months.1

Note that rates of weight loss will be different for each postpartum person depending on their lifestyle, metabolism, whether or not they are breastfeeding (breastfeeding tends to increase weight loss), and other personal health and genetic factors.

Losing too much weight too quickly is not good for you or your baby. Excessive postpartum weight loss can leave you feeling exhausted and run down. You may also end up with a low breast milk supply or with breast milk that’s lacking in the nutrients that your baby needs.

 What Is the Composition of Breast Milk?

Breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding, you may lose weight more quickly than if you don’t breastfeed. The hormones that your body releases when you breastfeed cause muscle contractions in your uterus. So, each time you breastfeed your baby, your uterus contracts and shrinks down. By six weeks after childbirth, your uterus will be back to the size it was before you became pregnant

It takes about 500 extra calories a day to make breast milk. You get those extra calories from the foods that you eat every day and the fat that is already stored in your body. Using up those fat stores helps you to lose weight gained in pregnancy faster. So, if you are losing weight too quickly or losing more weight than desired, you may not be eating enough to make up for the calories used by your body to make breastmilk.

 Answers to Your Breastfeeding Questions

What to Do

Be sure to give your body enough food to fuel breastfeeding your baby. Eating lots of healthy snacks can help you get enough calories while breastfeeding. Making eating regularly a little easier by stocking up on nutritious pre-made or easy-to-prepare foods, especially those that you can eat with one hand. Ideas include cheese and crackers, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fresh fruit, and granola with yogurt. Aim for items with lots of protein.

 Calories Needed for Breastfeeding

Not Consuming Enough Calories

The demands of motherhood can make it easy to skip meals—you may be too tired to think about your own meals but, as noted above, it’s important to eat enough. It takes a good amount of energy to breastfeed and make a healthy supply of breast milk. To get that energy, make sure that you’re eating a variety of healthy foods to provide you with all the nutrients and calories that you need. By the same token, it’s recommended to avoid dieting while breastfeeding.

Remember that between taking care of a new baby, other children, a home, and/or paid work, it’s easy to get caught up in all you have to do and forget about taking care of yourself. If you’re losing too much weight, take a minute to think about how much you’re doing and whether you are taking time for your own nutrition. Aim to eat right, drink plenty of fluids, and get enough rest.

What to Do

Taking the time to have appetizing and accessible snacks on hand can help you get into the habit of boosting your caloric intake. Additionally, ask for and accept help from loved ones. Getting support with grocery shopping (or sign up for a delivery service), having a partner, friend, or grandparent provide more baby care, or receiving meals from loved ones and neighbors can help you make more time for meals.

Postpartum Thyroiditis

Postpartum thyroiditis (PPT), which is inflammation of the thyroid, is a health condition that can cause excessive weight loss, shakiness, palpitations, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, eye problems, exhaustion, and an overabundant supply of breast milk. The condition is relatively rare, impacting around 5% of postpartum people in the year after childbirth.2

People with a personal or family history of thyroid dysfunction and those with Type 1 diabetes are at elevated risk. Some research indicates a link to underlying autoimmune disorders as well. Signs and symptoms usually present between one and six months postpartum and may progress from weight loss to eventual weight gain. The condition often resolves by around one year postpartum but may remain long-term in some women.2

What to Do

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and think you may have an overactive thyroid, call your doctor. There are treatment options that are safe for breastfeeding mothers.1

Postpartum Depression

Tiredness and mood swings are common during the postpartum period. However, sometimes these issues magnify and become postpartum depression (PPD). Signs and symptoms include changes in weight or appetite, loss of interest, depressed mood, feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or worthlessness, fatigue, sadness, restlessness, and low energy.

This condition tends to develop within several weeks of delivery. People with PPD may lose weight because of a drop in interest in eating and/or preparing food. Tiredness or apathy may make you less likely to eat as well.

 What Is Postpartum Depression?

What to Do

If you are experiencing any PPD symptoms, or are just feeling off, it’s important to seek help from a physician—and your loved ones. There are many effective treatment options, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and antidepressant medications (be sure to discuss with your doctor before taking any medications, particularly if you are breastfeeding). The support of friends and family is crucial for recovery as well.

A Word From Verywell

Often, excess or rapid postpartum weight loss is due to lifestyle issues and the pressures of new parenthood (like being too tired to eat), other times there may be a health concern that needs treatment. Either way, help is out there. So, if you’re worried about losing too much weight, contact your doctor.

Depending on your weight before you become pregnant, how much weight you gained during your pregnancy, if you are breastfeeding, and your overall health, your doctor can let you know how much weight loss is healthy for your situation. Your medical provider can also help you make a plan for reaching and sustaining a healthy weight—and get you treatment if a medical issue is the cause of your weight loss.

3 Months Postpartum Cant Lose Weight

Postpartum weight gain can happen for a number of reasons, from the fact that you’re fatigued or don’t have time for a regular excercise routine, or because of an underlying health condition that requires attention, such as postpartum thyroiditis, diabetes, or PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). If you feel like you’re trying, but you’re not losing weight after having a baby, talk to your healthcare provider, who can assess your postpartum weight gain and help you come up with a treatment or nutrition plan that will address what’s going on. It might also help to remember that it can take anywhere from six months to more than a year for your body to return to its pre-pregnancy size. 

A shot of a woman's feet standing on a scale in a bathroom.

Photo credit: iStock.com / laflor

IN THIS ARTICLE

“Bounce back” culture may leave you feeling like you’re supposed to quickly shed pounds postpartum, but not losing weight after having a baby is more common than you might think: While on average most women lose about 13 pounds during childbirth (which includes your baby, your placenta, and amniotic fluid), it can take six months to a year to return to your pre-pregnancy size. 

Slow and steady weight loss after having a baby takes a combination of healthy eatingpostpartum exercise, and patience. But if you still find yourself struggling with postpartum weight gain, there are a few reasons why you might want to talk to your healthcare provider about what’s going on.

READ MOREThe 17 most breathtaking photos of partnersduring delivery | BabyCenter

Is it normal that I’m not losing weight after having a baby?

Some postpartum weight retention can be completely normal: Six months after giving birth, women retain an average of 11.8 pounds, meaning that they weigh almost 12 pounds more than they did before they were pregnant. In fact, about half of moms retained more than 10 pounds at six months postpartum, while a quarter of moms were still 20 pounds heavier than their pre-pregnancy size.

While some moms have said they had a harder time losing weight after subsequent births, experts haven’t been able to say this is conclusively true. One study found no difference between weight loss after womens’ first babies and their second babies in pregnancies more than two years apart; though another study did find that women who gain a significant amount of weight between pregnancies are more likely to have a c-section and a large baby with their second child.

You’re not alone if you’re concerned about your weight after having a baby, and it’s important to remember that losing weight postpartum takes time. That said, if you find that you’re actually gaining weight after pregnancy, rather than just retaining it, talk to your healthcare provider, because you might have an underlying health condition that needs treatment.

What causes postpartum weight gain?

Your postpartum weight gain might be the result of an underlying health condition, especially if you’re experiencing other symptoms. Some common postpartum conditions associated with weight gain include:

  • Postpartum thyroiditis. Three to 8 percent of moms develop postpartum thyroiditis, a condition where the thyroid gland becomes inflamed after having a baby. Thyroiditis can lead to an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or an underactive one (hypothyroidism). If you’re gaining weight after baby, hypothyroidism could be the culprit. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, constipation, menstrual irregularities, muscle cramps, and an inability to handle cold weather. Your symptoms might not appear until a few months after giving birth. Talk to your provider, who can do a blood test to determine your thyroid function and whether you need medication. 
  • Postpartum depression. Women who develop postpartum depression – but have never had depression before – are more likely to retain weight a year after giving birth. Mothers with postpartum depression might lose their appetites or find themselves eating much more than usual. Those with depression or anxiety during pregnancy and into the first six months postpartum are at a higher risk of retaining their pregnancy weight. You might experience a depressed mood, intense irritability and anger, insomnia, and a diminished ability to think clearly. Call your provider right away for a postpartum depression screening and to get help.
  • Diabetes. If you had gestational diabetes, your blood sugar levels will most likely return to normal after delivery. But if you develop type 2 diabetes after giving birth (which is common for some women) and begin insulin or drug therapy, weight gain is a possible side effect. Talk to your provider or a nutritionist about a balanced diabetic diet, regular exercise, and other potential treatment options.
  • PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, affects as many as 5 to 10 percent of women. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, you could experience chronic irregular or missed periods, acne and abnormal facial hair growth, small cysts on your ovaries, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance – which could make you gain weight more easily than other women, or make losing weight after baby more difficult.

Additionally, there are a few other factors that make it more likely for you to keep weight on postpartum:

  • Excess weight gain during pregnancy. Women whose pregnancy weight gain is more than the recommended guidelines are twice as likely to retain pregnancy weight after giving birth.
  • Obesity. Obesity puts you at a higher risk for postpartum weight retention.
  • Smoking cessation. Moms who quit smoking while pregnant and don’t begin smoking again postpartum are at a higher risk of retaining weight.
  • Lack of sleep. Moms suffering from postpartum fatigue who sleep five hours or less per night at six months postpartum are more likely to retain pregnancy weight at one year after giving birth.
  • Loss of regular routine. Being a new mom means that you have less time for self-care. If you were able to exercise an hour a day, six days a week prior to pregnancy, you might find that you don’t have as much time in your day to focus on your own health.  Carving out time for exercise postpartum might mean asking others for help.

What can I do about my postpartum weight gain?

Some causes of postpartum weight gain require treatment. Thyroid medication is essential to balance your thyroid levels if you have postpartum thyroiditis. Postpartum depression is also treatable – talk to your healthcare provider about antidepressant medication, therapy, and regular exercise. Diabetes and PCOS can be managed through medication and lifestyle interventions.

If your healthcare provider recommends weight loss, talk with them about a healthy plan to do so. When it comes to post-baby weight loss, set realistic expectations and go slow. Don’t start dieting or exercising until your provider gives you the okay, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Eating healthy foods and enjoying regular exercise (yes, walking counts!) are key.

advertisement | page continues below

When to talk to your healthcare provider about postpartum weight gain

Your provider can help with your postpartum weight gain. If you’re noticing symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as weight gain and constipation, ask your provider to test your thyroid levels. 

If you think you might have postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety, or your family and friends express concern for you, know that you’re not alone. PPD is very common, affecting about 1 in 8 moms, and the good news is that it’s treatable. Work with your provider and a mental health professional to develop a plan to help you feel more like yourself again.

Lastly, if you’re noticing weight gain along with unwanted hair growth on your upper lip, back, breasts, or chin, or any pressure in your lower belly, pain in your lower back or thighs, pain during sex or during your period, breast tenderness, or trouble emptying your bladder, ask your provider about PCOS. They’ll likely do a pelvic exam, draw some blood, and possibly perform an ultrasound to determine if you have an ovarian cyst(s), which are very common in women of childbearing age.

How to feel good about your body after baby

Many women struggle with not losing weight after pregnancy and adjusting to their new bodies, and pressure from social media or your family or friends often doesn’t help. Try not to measure yourself against others, and treat yourself like you would treat your sister or best friend.

Have grace with your body. Try to focus on gratitude and all the amazing things your body can do. The most important thing you can do for yourself postpartum – in addition to caring for a newborn and possibly other children – is set aside time for yourself.

advertisement | page continues below

Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, it could take six months to a year to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. There’s no set timeline for postpartum weight loss, and every mom’s journey is different. Rather than pushing yourself at the gym, try incorporating physical activity that you really enjoy, whether that be walking, yoga, hiking, bike riding, or a dance class. (If you enjoy it, you’re more likely to want to do it.) Moving your body in a way that feels good to you can help you feel better mentally, too.

Rather than looking at your closet and wishing you fit into your old clothes, invest in clothes that fit your body right now. They don’t have to cost a lot; your local secondhand store or resale websites offer great options. Sometimes putting on a swipe of mascara or a touch of blush can boost your self-esteem, too. Pamper yourself with a haircut, manicure, or at-home face mask.

Above all, be gentle. And remember the fact that you gave birth to the greatest gift – your baby.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *