What happens to your body after giving birth?
It’s only natural for your body to change during and after pregnancy! So, what happens after you give birth? The same hormones that helped maintain your pregnancy are responsible for many body changes after pregnancy. While many of these changes will reverse soon after delivery, some might take more time or they might even be permanent.
A lot of new moms experience changes such as stretch marks, a wider waist and hips, and a softer belly. On average, women will be 1 to 6 pounds heavier after pregnancy.
Some women might also experience a condition called diastasis recti abdominis, which refers to a separation between your recrus abdominis muscles after pregnancy. In other cases, new moms might find that their pelvic floor muscles are weakened, causing milder orgasms and urinary incontinence.
How to lose weight after delivery?
The period after giving birth can be a very blissful time for new moms, but you’ll probably already be thinking about getting back to your pre-baby shape. If so, take a note of the following tips.
1. Set realistic goals
For many women, drastic weight loss is unrealistic and can only be achieved through unhealthy methods. A woman’s body needs some time after pregnancy need time to relax and recover, and it’s usually recommended that you wait a couple of months before actively trying to lose weight.
If you’re breastfeeding, a calorie deficit that’s too strict might affect the quality and quantity of your milk supply. Keeping this in mind, try a gradual approach to lose those extra pounds. Losing approximately a pound and half each week is a safe and realistic goal.
2. Get support from your partner
It’s always more difficult to lose weight if you’re doing it alone. Discuss your weight loss goals with your partner, get rid of unhealthy foods and snacks, and include healthier foods in both your diets.
There are also activities that can help you both unwind and exercise together, such as going for walks together - stroller in tow - each day.
3. Keep a healthy and well-balanced diet
Contrary to popular belief, the best way to lose weight isn’t to go on a crash diet. People who do this end up tired and gain back the weight at some point. Getting enough calories through healthy foods is a better option for anyone, but specially for new moms who need extra energy!
Your postnatal nutrition plan should include 3 to 5 meals during the day. Many new moms find it difficult to sit down for full meals, so having smaller meals that are interspersed with healthy snacks can help.
Don’t skip meals, since this can cause more cravings later on. Breakfast is especially important, since it will help keep you satiated and energized.
4. Have these healthy foods
If you’re unsure about what to eat after delivery, there are many small changes you can make. Eating more vegetables and fruits after delivery is always a good place to start, along with other foods that will help you lose weight and increase the quality of your breastmilk. These are some of the foods you should eat after giving birth:
- Low-fat dairy products
- Whole wheat bread
- Lean beef
- Seeds and nuts
- Brown rice
- Leafy greens.
5. Control your cravings
Besides eating healthy foods, you should also know what not to eat after giving birth. After having your baby, you’ll probably be tired and sleep-deprived, which can make you crave unhealthy foods. These are some of the foods you should avoid after delivery:
- Saturated fats
- Refined sugar
- Sugary drinks
- Processed foods
- Fried foods
- Salty foods.
6. Drink plenty of water
Water is important for anyone who is trying to lose weight. Drinking enough water will keep you hydrated, satiate cravings, and boost your metabolism. Water is particularly important for breastfeeding moms, since your body will spend extra water producing milk.
Drinking 1 to 2 liters a day is a good baseline, but you should also use the color of your urine to guide you. If you’re properly hydrated, your urine be light yellow and you’ll need to urinate every 3 to 4 hours.
7. Try to get enough sleep
Sleeping well with a new baby can be tricky. However, sleep deprivation can negatively impact your weight loss efforts. Studies have shown that new mothers who get less than seven hours of sleep per night are more likely to retain their pregnancy weight.
This happens because when you’re tired, your body releases certain hormones to keep you going. These hormones can slow your metabolism and make you crave unhealthy, sugar-loaded foods. Try napping while the baby sleeps, or ask friends and family for help if necessary.
8. Know when to start exercising
Working out too soon after delivery only leads to injuries. If you had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, you might be able to start light aerobic exercises a few days after delivery.
However, if you had a C-section or tore during birth, you’ll need to wait a few weeks. Your doctor will be able to advise you on when to start postnatal exercise for cesarean patients.
Post pregnancy tummy exercises are especially delicate, since abdominal muscles get stretched during pregnancy, and you’ll need to wait longer before performing them safely.
9. Start walking
Exercise alone won’t make you lose weight, but it will keep your metabolism up and tone your muscles. Aerobic activities, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming can help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
Walking is one of the easiest post baby exercises, and it can help you ease into a more intense routine. Remember to check with your doctor to make sure your body has rested enough and is ready to start exercising after giving birth.
Prepare for your medical checkup in a couple of clicks
Track your symptoms and mood swings regularly to let your doctor see the whole health picture.
10. Try postnatal yoga
Yoga can have many benefits for your body before, during, and after pregnancy. It can help posture and balance, increase flexibility, boost your energy, and improve fatigue. Yoga classes can also provide a friendly, stress-free environment for you to unwind and relax.
11. Include your baby in your workouts
You can include your little one in many types of exercises after giving birth, which will help you bond and will make it easier for you to find the time to exercise. Try taking a walk along with their stroller or consider enrolling in mommy-and-me yoga, swimming, or aerobics classes.
These classes can also be a great place to meet other new moms who are also trying to lose baby fat!
12. Try these exercises
Once your doctor gives you the green light, you can try these exercises after delivery for a flat stomach and overall weight loss:
- Pelvic tilts
- Lateral pelvic tilts
- Ab curls
- Oblique curls
If you were active before and during pregnancy, your doctor might recommend waiting a month before doing more intensive workouts, such as crossfit, cycling, running, and high intensity interval training (HIIT). You can also try modified exercises that include holding your baby for a great post pregnancy ab workout.
13. Don’t forget your Kegels
You’ve probably heard that Kegels are a great exercise for moms-to-be, but they’re also very important after birth. Some new moms might experience pelvic floor weakness, and Kegels are the easiest ways to relieve this issue. You can start doing your Kegels immediately after birth, even if at first you might not feel yourself doing them.
14. Don’t compare yourself to other moms
All women are different, and getting fit after pregnancy might be easier for some moms. As long as you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly after birth, odds are that you’ll lose the extra pounds sooner rather than later.
Don’t be discouraged by magazines that show celebrities getting back in shape only weeks after delivery; do what is best for your body and your baby, and the weight loss will follow. Real postpartum bodies don’t always go back to their pre-baby state, and that’s okay as long as you’re healthy.
15. Know when to ask for help
If you’ve implemented healthy changes to your lifestyle and you’re still not losing weight, it might be time to seek professional help. A doctor or nutritionist will be able to help you devise a plan to lose the baby fat.
Keep in mind that your hormone levels change during pregnancy and after childbirth, so your doctor will be able to order tests if they consider that a hormonal problem might be causing your weight issues.
Does breastfeeding help you lose weight?
Breastfeeding has been shown to help new mothers lose weight. In order to produce milk, your body spends around 300-500 extra calories each day.
As long as you’re eating a healthy diet, this energy expense will help you create the calorie deficit that is necessary to lose weight after giving birth. While you breastfeed, you’re also releasing hormones that’ll help shrink your post-baby uterus, which can flatten your belly faster.
Losing weight after having a baby might seem complicated, but following these tips can help you get back in shape faster. If you were already following a healthy lifestyle, odds are that you won’t have to make any drastic changes to recover your pre-baby shape.
Just listen to your body, eat healthy, rest, and exercise regularly and your body will change in no time!