Stop comparing yourself: A realistic guide to losing weight after pregnancy
So you’ve recently had your baby and you’re wondering… when should I start losing weight after pregnancy? What’s normal? What can I realistically (and safely) achieve?
And why do some mums seem to drop the weight almost instantly, while others need years to get back to their pre-baby size?
All very good questions and we’ll cover them in this guide to help you kickstart your post-pregnancy weight loss, set your goals, and do it the healthiest possible way for you and your baby.
Jump ahead to read more:
- When can I start to lose weight after pregnancy?
- How much weight do you lose right after giving birth?
- How much weight can I lose by breastfeeding?
- What’s a realistic weight loss goal for new mums?
- Why do some mums lose weight faster than others?
- Real mum stories – losing weight after pregnancy
- Join The Healthy Mummy challenge!
When can I start to lose weight after pregnancy?
While you’ll naturally drop a few kilograms when you give birth and in the weeks following birth, you’ll probably find there’s still at least a few extra kilos to go.
You may want to focus on losing the rest of your baby weight right away (like so many celebrities do) but please take it easy.
It’s okay to start gentle exercise almost right away, as long as your doctor has given you the go-ahead, but many mums take at least the first 6-12 weeks to focus on healing their body and getting to know their baby. It depends on the type of birth they had (c-section vs vaginal) and their experience throughout pregnancy.
But the great news is you can support healthy post-partum weight loss right away by eating healthy meals for weight loss that nourish and nurture your body.
Tip: If you haven’t had the baby yet, you can prepare many of these meals and freeze them before you give birth so you don’t have to jump straight back into the kitchen!
Interested in reading more? Check out When can I start to lose baby weight with The Healthy Mummy’s plans? and When can you start to lose baby weight?
How much weight do you lose right after giving birth?
When you give birth, you’ll straight away drop a few kilograms as you’re no longer carrying around a newborn baby (3kg), placenta (700g), and amniotic fluid (1kg). But you’ll still have some extra weight because your body is also carrying around 1.6kg extra blood, 1.6kg of extra fluid, 1kg heavier uterus, 1kg extra breast tissue, and more than 3kg in extra fat stores.
The extra fluid and extra blood volume will go away on their own over the next few weeks (hello postpartum sweating and lochia!) and your uterus will gradually contract down to pre-pregnancy size (hello afterbirth pains!).
But your extra breast tissue will hang around while you’re breastfeeding your baby. And those extra fat stores might hang around for a while, too.
So, while you’ll lose some weight after pregnancy right away, you won’t be at your pre-baby weight for at least a few months – probably longer.
Read more in this story about 5 things I wish I’d known about my postpartum weight and body image and this super honest blog about what a postpartum body really looks like.
How much weight can I lose by breastfeeding?
So often you hear mums say, “oh, you’ll lose so much weight by breastfeeding.” But is that really true? And if so, what’s a realistic amount of weight loss to expect?
Well, it depends. Some mums find the weight really does drop off while they’re breastfeeding. Breastfeeding burns around 500 calories per day (especially when you’re exclusively breastfeeding).
That means you can potentially eat the same amount of food you ate pre-pregnancy and still lose weight – your body will simply turn to your fat stores from pregnancy for the extra energy.
BUT many mums find that breastfeeding can give them a pretty big appetite! Especially when you’re also sleep deprived – all these hormones can make you want to eat more food, which is why many breastfeeding mums struggle to lose weight after pregnancy.
Plus, it’s also important to make sure you get enough calories into your body so that your milk supply isn’t affected. So, it can be tricky to balance getting enough food in your body to support breastfeeding while still aiming to lose some pregnancy weight.
Experts recommend up to ½ a kg per week of weight loss is safe for breastfeeding mums. And that math makes sense – to lose 1/2kg of fat every week, you’d need to burn 550 more calories per day (roughly what you’d burn from breastfeeding).
But here at The Healthy Mummy, we’re always careful to advise mums, not to calorie count – instead focus on putting good, wholesome, healthy food in your body. Making the right choices with healthy foods will naturally support you in losing weight after pregnancy.
What’s a realistic weight loss goal for new mums?
It’s really important to be gentle with yourself and your body. Give your body time to recover properly – especially if you had a rough birth and/or pregnancy.
But at the same time, it’s okay to set goals for yourself – it can be so motivating and give you something to focus on.
Your goal might be weight related (like getting back to my pre-baby weight by 12 months postpartum). Or it might be something like fitting back into your favourite pre-pregnancy dress for your next birthday.
Whatever your goal is, break it down into smaller milestones to make sure it’s achievable within the set timeframe.
500g per week is a healthy and realistic weight loss goal for new mums (once recovered from birth). It can really add up to amazing results if you persist with healthy eating and exercise long-term.
Also, note that higher weight loss early on is more likely if you have a lot of weight to lose after pregnancy, but if you’re down to those last few kilograms, it could take longer.
So adjust your expectations as you lose the weight to make sure they’re still realistic. You might need to incorporate more workouts to help burn some extra calories as well as healthy eating.
Why do some mums lose weight faster than others?
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ― Dr Seuss
Here’s the thing… we are ALL different. Some mums lose weight faster because:
- Their metabolism works faster
- They’re more physically active
- Their appetites are smaller
- They have a healthier diet with more vegetables and less processed foods
- They’re lucky enough to get GOOD sleep even with a baby or toddler around
And some mums will lose weight more slowly because:
- They have a slower metabolism
- They’re sleep deprived which makes them hungry and low on energy
- They may be dealing with other medical issues like PCOS or thyroid issues
If you think you’re not losing the pregnancy weight fast enough when you take into consideration the healthy food you’re eating and the level of exercise you’re doing, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.
They can run some tests and rule out any potential issues.
Plus, it’s always good to get a general checkup on things like your iron levels, vitamin B12, and other things to see if they’re affecting your energy.
Real mum stories – losing weight after pregnancy
These amazing mummies have all had amazing success with losing weight after pregnancy. Read their stories for inspiration and to hear how they did it!
- Angela lost 9kg of baby weight!
- Delight lost 15kg of baby weight!
- Casey lost weight after pregnancy while still breastfeeding
- Jessica lost 20kg after baby number two by five months post-partum
- Kate feels amazing at 18.5kg lighter and eight weeks post-partum, losing weight after two pregnancies
- Niki lost 22kg while breastfeeding
Join The Healthy Mummy challenge!
These amazing mums lost weight after pregnancy and so can you! Their secret? Sticking to a healthy meal plan, eating nutritious food, and getting the right support.