Postpartum Weight Loss

postpartum weight loss

Is postpartum weight loss on your mind? How long does it actually take to lose post-pregnancy weight? Is it even safe to lose weight so close to having a baby? Should you be dieting postpartum? Will you ever be your pre-pregnant weight again? So many questions.

Life is probably looking a little differently now you have met your little baby. You will be learning what new motherhood looks like for you and your family. The last thing on some of your minds is postpartum weight loss, but for other mothers, it can be something they are keen to get into.

Postpartum is NOT the time to be trying to lose weight…..

It is the time to:

  • Enjoy your baby
  • Rest
  • Recuperate
  • Have others help out with the housework and daily chores
  • Appreciate your body
  • Nourish your body
  • Move your body as able
  • Eat well
  • Relax your body

12 Things About Postpartum Weight Loss

1. Why is it Hard to Lose Weight After Pregnancy?

Growing a baby takes time and it will take time for the extra weight to leave your body.  Your uterus went from the size of your fist to around 38-40 cm in diameter at the end of pregnancy. It takes time for your internal organs to return to their normal place, after making room for a baby, and your muscles need to regain strength.  The uterus is still enlarged for weeks after having your baby.

The Mayo Clinic discusses that during labour and childbirth you lose initially about 13 pounds (5.9 kg). This is made of baby weight, amniotic fluid and the placenta. The shedding of retained fluids will continue after birth, but the extra fat that you have successfully stored during pregnancy (which was actually stored for a reason – to nurture your baby) will still be around.

2. Expected Weight Loss after Birth? 

postpartum health

It may take 6 – 12 months to return to a weight that is similar to your pre-pregnancy weight or it may not happen at all. We all know some women who have had a baby and instantly appear back at their pre-pregnancy weight, but the majority of women may take a year or more to be back at their pre-pregnancy weight. It will take time to really establish what a new normal is for you.

We change as we grow older and make babies, and this is ok. There is a myriad of internal dances happening in your body, you have not just simply added a few extra kilograms to your weight, you have grown and nurtured a baby, and then laboured for hours to bring this baby into the world. Flex that patience muscle.

3. Not Losing Weight After Birth?

Be gentle with yourself and your body and be in awe of what you have achieved and are achieving – you are now keeping a little one alive and safe on a daily (and nightly) basis.

4. Will Breastfeeding Help to Lose Weight?


Breastfeeding can help burn up some extra calories, but there is no real evidence that this helps or aids long-term weight loss. There is so much happening at this time in our bodies- the age you fall pregnant, your hormones, sleep deprivation, and differing pregnancy weight gain are all factors that can make our bodies use calories differently, or at least at a different rate, than another mother. So technically, yes breastfeeding will burn more calories, however, in practice, this has a negligible effect on weight loss.

It is important not to eat with the thought in mind that breastfeeding would help to dissolve these extra calories – it just doesn’t work like that.  It’s important to note that we breastfeed, if we choose to, for the benefit of our baby, not to lose weight.

5. After Delivery Exercise To Lose Weight

Everyone knows that to lose weight it is beneficial to exercise. You will be tired, really tired after having your baby and this will affect your ability and your will to exercise. Take it easy and move as you feel able to in time. Try and include gentle physical activity into your day when you are ready. A general rule of thumb is to start light exercise 4-6 weeks after birth if you are able.

For some women who were able to maintain exercise during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, it may be safe for light gentle exercise as soon as you feel able. If you had a caesarean section or complicated birth you need to talk to your health care provider.

6. Weight Loss Right After Birth?

Your baby is basically attached to you – it can be difficult with a newborn to find time for yourself. Some women are able to leave their baby quite easily with loved ones, family or childcare and for others, this can be more difficult. Either way, it is important to try and establish some time for yourself.  You may need to find ways to fill your own tank whilst still being with your baby, such as watching movies, walking in the park, meeting other parents in a social setting, play dates etc but defiantly doing things that remind you of things you enjoy – it is so beneficial to you and your mental health.

7. Asking for Help Postpartum.

Allow people to do things for you. Sometimes this can be so hard to navigate as many people are just not good at asking for help. However having a baby is one of those times that people genuinely wish to help, so work on a list of helpful ideas that you can mention if anyone asks you. Maybe ask your visitors to do a job while YOU hold the baby for once….. rather than you running around looking after everyone – just sit and hold the baby and tell everyone to look after themselves. Stress and weight gain can be related – so take every opportunity to reduce the stress in your life.

8. Does Sleep Affect Weight Loss Postpartum?

Sleep will be coveted. Sleep plays a role in your ability to lose weight. So although there is not a huge amount we can do with the pressures of a newborn baby through the night it is worth acknowledging that it is important for you to grab sleep when you are can. When someone offers to look after the baby, for example. Numerous studies have reported this relationship between sleep and weight gain. The National Institute of Health article states that sleep loss can affect appetite, dysregulation of sleep hormones, metabolic dysfunction, oxidative stress, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. Sleep is a wonder drug.

9. Meal Prepping Postpartum?


Meal prepping is an incredibly helpful tool to have commenced whilst pregnant. Essentially, meal prepping is the making of a meal and then freezing it for later use. It’s important whilst meal prepping to think about all the facets of the meal, try and incorporate good protein and carbohydrate sources and easily be able to either add salad or veggies (or have them already cooked in the meal). In the last few weeks of your pregnancy hopefully, you were able to start some meal prepping. 

If you didn’t get round to it during your pregnancy then now, if people ask if there is anything they can do for you, ask them for a meal! A small wee baby is incredibly time-consuming and if you know you are able to put a healthy meal on the table at the end of the day it is one less thing to think about. Having meals prepared will help to stop extra snacking and the possibility of ordering take-out food and they are generally healthier for you.

10. Meal Planning Postpartum.

As tired and sleep-deprived as you will be, and as challenged as you will be to find a new rhythm in your life with your baby on board, this is not the time to eat junk food and take out foods. Try to be careful with your weekly shopping and don’t shop on an empty stomach or too sleep-deprived.  Maybe start practising some meal planning. Meal Planning is very different to meal prepping. Meal planning is when you decide what you are eating for the week, write a list and go shopping for the week.

The benefits of meal planning are endless but in the end, there is one less thing to think about and hopefully, you will not be caught out eating too many foods not made from home. Foods purchased outside of the home are more dense in calories, fat, sugar and salt than home-cooked meals.

11. Healthy Eating Postpartum.

Eat in a healthy manner and have high-quality snacks and proteins. Your nutrition is of paramount importance, and it is very advantageous to have good quality snacks around for the postpartum time. It is very easy to fall into the temptation of purchasing your processed snacks from the supermarket aisle. These are generally not healthy or nutritious. Planning your snacks can form part of your meal prepping prior to having your baby and meal planning postpartum. If people ask what to bring – some healthy high-protein nutrition snacks would be great to order.

12. Postpartum Weight Loss Major Tip.

Take 12 weeks off…it sounds luxurious doesn’t it – but you really need time to focus on your body and your baby. Don’t be pressured into feeling like you should have it all together and be back into your skinny jeans ASAP. Don’t be leaping into any crazy weight loss diet or exercise routines – time is your friend, and your baby is only a newborn for literally a few weeks – relax and absorb it. Take the time to plan your health and nutrition goals for now, and in the future.

Take Home Message About Postpartum Weight Loss


The key to this message is that weight loss after pregnancy can take many, many months. Postpartum weight loss should be gradual. The time after birth with a newborn is not the time to focus on your weight. It is a time to support and nourish your body with adequate rest, gentle exercise and healthy eating.