Pregnancy weight can be difficult to lose, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be a permanent addition to your waistline, hips, or chest. As a mom to seven children, I know all about pregnancy weight gain and losing weight after pregnancies. If you are feeling frustrated and about ready to give up on losing those pregnancy pounds, there is hope. One of those most common reactions I get when people find out I have seven children is, “Wow! You look great.” In fact, the other day when my family and I were at a concert, one lady actually said to me, “Why aren’t you fat?” Okay, that was a little rude of her to say, but she brings up a good point. There is often a perception that pregnancies make women fat, especially when there are multiple pregnancies involved. The good news is that you don’t have to live your life after pregnancy struggling with your weight or feeling fat. You can get the pregnancy weight off, but it takes work. There have been research studies that show that women who gained too much weight in pregnancy and didn’t lose it within about six months are more likely to be obese for the long term. That’s depressing. In case you were wondering, I was morbidly obese during my second and third pregnancies, lost 150 pounds after the third pregnancy, and managed to get back to a healthy weight after each of the last four pregnancies. To lose pregnancy pounds, you’ve got to focus on two concepts: Patience and endurance. Patience is required because pregnancy weight doesn’t come on in a single month. Remember it took you about nine months to gain weight. And for the majority of women, it sure doesn’t fall off during the first 30 postpartum days. Endurance is important because you can’t give up on yourself. Losing weight is never easy and throwing in the towel because you don’t lose weight immediately makes it likely you will just keep gaining weight, especially if there may be another pregnancy in your future. The process for shedding pregnancy pounds is the same whether your baby is three months old or two years old. However, there are some special considerations if you are a nursing mom losing weight.
- Eat enough calories. You shouldn’t drop your calorie level too low if you are exclusively breastfeeding. La Leche League recommends at least 1,500 calories a day. When I was breastfeeding, I ate about 1,800 calories a day and still lost the pregnancy weight fairly easily.
- Wait about 60 days before you actively try to lose weight if you are breastfeeding. This waiting period gives you a chance to firmly establish your milk supply and not stress about weight loss.
All postpartum moms—breastfeeding or not—who want to lose weight should be concerned about nutrition, healthy eating, and exercise. Here are a few things you can do to drop the pregnancy pounds and start feeling like your old self again.
1. Take your baby on walks.
I lost weight initially by walking, and post pregnancy was no different. As soon as your doctor gives you the green light for exercise, put your baby in the stroller and head out the door. Walking is gentle on your body but can be a good calorie burn if you walk briskly. Mom tip: Bring a carrier such as a BabyBjörn in case your little one decides he hates the stroller mid walk. Then you can snuggle him close to you and push the empty stroller if he begins to fuss.
2. Count your calories.
Keeping track of your calories and food selections just makes sense. You can ensure you are getting enough calories whether you are breastfeeding or not, and tracking calories gives you valuable information about the quality of your diet. Mom tip: Do this on your phone right after you eat. That way you don’t forget in the busyness of taking care of your little one.
3. Be satisfied with slow progress.
It’s tempting to want to fit back into your skinny jeans immediately but don’t rush the process. Slow progress is fine. As long as the scale is sliding down, it’s okay. Mom tip: Remember it took you nine months to gain weight, you aren’t going to lose it all in a few weeks.