Gaining baby weight during and after pregnancy is almost inevitable. Most women usually gain a couple of pounds after birth and a considerable number of women still retain that extra baby weight ( 11 pounds and above) over a year post-partum. This makes some women increasingly anxious and worried about losing baby weight.
Some seek how to lose weight after pregnancy naturally. Experts say that a woman naturally adds on an average of 2.5 to 5 pounds after birth.
This extra fat is due to the weight of the placenta, amniotic fluid, breast tissue, uterus and an increased volume of blood during pregnancy.
While certain individuals may seek rapid weight loss after pregnancy, it is pertinent to consider the best method that suits one’s body type especially for losing weight after baby number 2.
WHY SHOULD YOU LOSE BABY WEIGHT?
Almost every woman wants to fit into her old jeans or clothes when the baby arrives without having to worry about added weight.
Their reasons are mostly hinged on body image but other health factors are a good reason to consider losing baby weight.
Post-partum weight increases a woman’s risk of developing health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Also, If a woman decides to get pregnant again while still maintaining previous baby weight, this can accumulate into a higher weight gain and negatively impact her health and that of her unborn child.
So body image aside, it is pertinent that women let go of baby weight for a more healthy life. So, what is the quickest way to lose weight after having a baby?
HOW CAN YOU LOSE BABY WEIGHT FAST?
Losing baby weight after delivery can be a big struggle, even when working with a postpartum weight loss timeline.
Not with your new busy routine that is occupied with baby care. You can barely get enough sleep and your life feels like a constant roller coaster, “so how do you even make time to focus on losing baby weight? ” you may ask.
The truth is, you can lose that weight really quickly if you had previously been monitoring your weight during pregnancy.
Staying well within the recommended weight during pregnancy plays a vital role in how quickly you lose weight after delivery.
Gaining weight during pregnancy is a natural occurrence, but it is imperative to know how much weight gain is considered healthy for you and your unborn child.
The U. S institute of medicine (IOM) recommends that pregnant women should keep to certain weight limits based on their Body Mass Index (BMI).
You can use a BMI calculator to work out your standard weight. The recommendations according to the institute are listed below:
- Women with BMI of less than 18.5(underweight) should strive to gain 28 to 40 pounds
- Women with a normal BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 should strive to gain 25 to 35 pounds
- Women with a BMI of 25 and 29.9 (Overweight) should strive to gain 15 to 25 pounds
- Women with a BMI greater than 30 (Obese) should strive to gain 11 to 20 pounds
Keeping to this weight limits as it relates to your BMI Can help you lose post-partum weight quickly. Other factors such as diet and exercise are also essential to losing baby weight. On that note, here are some few tips on how to stay on the healthy side of the weight scale after birth.
HOLD OFF ON THE DIET
It’s a bad idea to start dieting immediately after delivery. You shouldn’t focus on weight loss immediately after giving birth because the odds are you will lose most of the weight from pregnancy, that is the weight of the baby, the placenta and the amniotic fluid.
You are also likely to lose the weight caused by the excess fluid during pregnancy a few weeks after delivery. Give your body time to naturally shed off this weight before you begin a weight loss regimen.
It is advised that you hold off on dieting until your baby is six weeks or older. Instead of dieting, try to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to help you recover quickly from the natural effects of delivery.
SET A REASONABLE WEIGHT LOSS TARGET
To help you lose weight faster, you should set a target for yourself. But no matter the designated outcome you’ve set for yourself, you shouldn’t lose more than one pound per week.
It is estimated that a woman can lose a good amount of weight within six months, but you should bear in mind that every woman’s body is different and not all women will be able to shed baby weight within six months of giving birth.
Some women may take longer. Nonetheless, experts believe that 12 months is the maximum time frame for a woman to lose pregnancy-induced weight gain. Women who don’t lose weight after a year of giving birth stand the risk of retaining their post-partum weight.
START A POST-PARTUM DIET
The importance of a good diet in losing baby weight cannot be over-stressed. However, you should remember not to start dieting immediately after delivery.
Give your body a period of 4-6 weeks before starting a diet. You should also check in with your doctor to give you professional permission to start a post-baby diet.
Your diet should be low on sugar and refined carbs, eating too many sugary foods can make your blood sugar drop, which means you will start having unnecessary cravings and eat more food.
Stay away from empty calorie foods, fad or crash diets. Crash diets eliminate a large percentage of calories that is essential for breastfeeding.
Not having enough calories in your body will lead to low milk production which invariably affects the health of your baby. In fact, you need more calories than the average woman when breastfeeding.
A low-calorie diet can also slow down your body’s metabolism which makes it even harder to lose weight quickly. For a weight loss diet, you should eat at least 2,000 calories per day if you are breastfeeding and about 1800 calories if you are not.
You can adjust calorie intake in the long run when you begin to slim down as your body requires lesser calories as you lose weight.
Your diet should include lots of protein, fresh fruits, vegetables, fibre, and whole grains. Foods rich in protein can help keep your calorie count in check by stalling the release of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and increasing metabolism.
Foods rich in fibre can also help you cut down on calorie intake as they are able to induce fullness, reduce the level of hunger hormones in the body, and slow down digestion.
Avoid highly processed foods ( fast foods, cookies, candies, and some pastry or baked products) at all cost and replace them with healthy snacks whenever your sweet tooth stirs.
Cutting down on alcohol is one resolution you need to make if you want your diet to pay off and your child healthy. Alcohol can cause more fat to be stored in your body especially around your abdominal region (belly fat) . It is also known to reduce breast milk production and can be passed down in small quantities to your baby during breastfeeding.
COMBINE DIET WITH EXERCISE
Exercise is undoubtedly good for the body and it is even more vital when you are trying to lose post-partum weight.
Aside from helping you lose weight and improving your overall health, exercise can also help you relax after all that stressful “mummy duties”.
It also helps with sleeping problems and reduces symptoms of depression. But better than that, exercise combined with a good diet can work wonders for your body. A number of studies have supported this.
One study found that people who merged dieting with exercise lost more weight than those who relied on dieting alone. Another review that analysed data from 14 studies found that diet together with exercise contributes to post-partum weight loss.
Exercise doesn’t have to be extreme or strenuous. Taking your baby out on a short walk within the neighbourhood also counts as exercise. You can engage your toddler in your exercise regime by doing simple squats, sit-ups, arm lifts.
You can also register with a baby-friendly gym where you can work out and check on your baby simultaneously. Indulge in activities you love like swimming, cycling and yoga, however, before engaging in any form of exercise, make sure to check in with your doctor to give you the go-ahead especially if you had your baby through caesarian section.
However, experts are of the opinion that a woman can go for walks after delivery whether she gave birth vaginally or through a caesarian section.
BREASTFEED IF YOU CAN
Although research is yet to find a connection between breastfeeding and weight loss, most women will attest to the fact that breastfeeding burns a good amount of calories in a short period of time. Breastfeeding can help you lose belly fat by activating hormones that shrink the size of your uterus.
A number of studies indicate that breastfeeding your baby is a fast way to regain your pre-pregnancy weight. While breastfeeding you will need to add an extra 300 calories to your diet. A study conducted in 2008 found that breastfeeding can prevent post-partum weight retention by 6 months in most women.
Breastfeeding burns calories really quickly as the body requires a lot of energy to produce milk. Women who breastfeed typically burn about 500 calories daily (depending on how much milk is produced) compared to those who don’t nurse their babies.
The increase in calorie intake (of about 300 calories daily) makes for a calorie deficit that contributes immensely to weight loss. Breastfeeding also helps keep your baby healthy by providing essential nutrients, boosting the immune system which lowers the chances of disease and infection. However, if you choose not to breastfeed, diet and exercise can also help you lose post-partum weight.
Simply downing eight glasses of water or more daily can help you in losing baby weight. Water is generally important for weight loss.
Drinking water may help decrease your appetite and the number of calories you consume by filling you up. It is particularly important for breastfeeding women as they need more water to replace the fluids lost during the course of milk production.
The amount of water you drink daily mostly depends on the colour of your urine. You know you are drinking enough water when the colour of your urine is clear or you make frequent trips to the bathroom.
Sleep deprivation has been linked with postpartum weight retention. Sleep is unarguably beneficial to the overall wellbeing of a person. It may be hard to get more hours of sleep when you have a baby that constantly needs attention.
But you can work your way around this by planning a sleep schedule. You can also enlist the help of family or friends to help you with the baby while you sleep.
Not getting enough sleep can trigger the release of stress hormones that contribute to weight gain. It also saps your energy and makes you nonchalant towards sticking to a healthy diet or keeping to your weight loss regimen, this impedes on losing baby weight. Anytime your baby takes a nap, you should too.
WHAT SLOWS DOWN POST-PARTUM WEIGHT LOSS?
Age and the number of children you’ve had may affect how fast you lose weight post-delivery. Research has shown that women in their 30s are more likely to hold onto more baby weight than younger women.
The risk of baby weight retention is even higher in older women (40 and above). If you’ve had more than two kids, your chances of hanging on to belly fat are quite high.
With each baby, belly fat tends to increase which makes it more difficult to lose weight around your belly as fast as you would like.
The journey to losing baby weight is not easy. It requires commitment and effort. Having to take care of a baby is burdensome enough struggle already and fitting in a weight loss regimen can be overwhelming.
Don’t be too hard on yourself and take it one step at a time. If you are having difficulty losing weight, reach out to a dietician and your doctor for help.
You can also join a weight loss support group or team up with your partner for encouragement. Don’t compare yourself to other women especially those portrayed by the media with exotic post-partum bodies a few months after delivery, most times the reality is not what is being portrayed.
Don’t give up if you are not getting immediate results, weight loss may take time because every woman’s body is wired differently.
Stick to a healthy diet, engage in more physical activity, get enough rest and you should be able to regain at least a good percentage of your pre-pregnancy weight.