Congratulations on your little one! Your body has just gone through a lot of physical, mental, and hormonal changes during these nine months of growing a new life and delivering it to this world. Now you finally gave birth and what you didn’t expect at all is to see yourself in the mirror still looking 9 months pregnant on your first day postpartum. If you’re a new mom, like I was two years ago, I can see the shock in your face. I’ve been there, too.
But here’s the good news! It’s completely normal to look pregnant after delivery. It takes around a month for your uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. So no worries here. It’ll get better soon (I’ve checked!).
Regardless of where your weight is right now, you will manage to shed everything you gained in pregnancy and get your body back. First thing you have to remember is that postpartum weight loss takes time, patience and commitment.
Having a beautiful body means working hard on it. But not too hard, I promise!
8 Smart Tips To Lose Weight Postpartum (without harming your milk supply!)
Embrace your new body and relax (at least for a month)
Probably the most important tip ever! Yes, your body may look far from what you were hoping for. You might have loose skin on your belly, stretch marks, your breasts look different and feel much heavier, your skin might have lost its tonus and you probably have more fat and fluid retention in your body than ever before. Yet, you just made a new person! So give yourself grace! Embrace your new body and relax. You are beautiful the way you are right now! Postpartum body is amazing, in the very least because it shows that you’ve done the most important job a woman is here for – you created a new life.
Don’t wait for fast results with postpartum weight loss. It took your body nine months to grow a baby, so giving yourself around a year for getting fit again2 is a wise decision.
Wear postpartum girdle
Your first step to getting your pre-pregnancy belly back is to wear a special postpartum girdle starting day one. The benefits from wearing postpartum girdle are often underestimated and many women skip this important step that could actually help their uterus to shrink faster, improve posture and relieve back pain while offering the right support for the core and helping speed up the postpartum recovery.
Don’t make this mistake of ignoring a girdle and take a look at what Amazon is offering. There’s a wide range of options with great reviews to choose from.
Breastfeed on demand
The more a woman is breastfeeding, the greater is the effect on her weight loss. The study, conducted by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008 shows thatbreastfeeding alone has a great effect on eliminating postpartum weight retention by 6 months. It all comes from extra calories your body is burning to produce enough milk for your baby. It is roughly estimated that a lactating mother burns around 500 extra calories a day, which means you can use it for your advantage!
My personal experience with breastfeeding is quite amazing. By month three postpartum of breastfeeding on demand, the scale showed my pre-pregnancy weight (but my body shape was far from ideal. Thus, don’t get fooled by the scale. You have to estimate your body shape only by looking into the mirror! If you like what you see, then you’re moving in the right direction.)
And if you’re a new momma struggling with breastfeeding or learning how to do it write, check out the ultimate guide for successful stress-free breastfeeding where I’m sharing useful information paired with my own experience of nursing over 18 months.
What if you can’t lose weight while breastfeeding or even started gaining more pounds? This might be the reason why.
Your weight loss starts in the kitchen. Eating a healthy well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet is 80% of success in postpartum weight loss (actually, in any kind of weight loss). Do not be afraid of the fats (the healthy ones). According to recent studies,it seems that carbohydrates are the culprits that contribute to weight gain, not the fats. They will spike your insulin levels which will then follow by the rapid drop in blood sugar making you twice as hungry as you were before snacking on fast carbs. Higher insulin levels are also linked with desire to overeat. Knowing all that, it would be a good idea to eliminate fast food, pastry, sugar and all kinds of refined foods.
Check yourself for diastasis recti
After checking-in with your doctor and getting the permission to workout (around week 4-6 postpartum), don’t rush to the gym. There’s one more important thing to take care of. You should check yourself for diastasis recti, because if you do have it, your workout routine should be totally transformed in order not to harm your abs even more.
What is diastasis recti?
It’s a separation of the abdomen muscles that starts during pregnancy when your belly is growing. Usually abs should get back together around the end of the first month postpartum, but some women will still have a gap between the two sides of their abdomens. A gap as wide as 2.5 cm (or two fingers) is considered the first stage of diastasis recti. This separation can be in any area along your abdomens.
Start with stomach vacuum and pelvic tilts
The basic idea of first workouts is not to sweat yourself to the extremes, but to work with your belly and pelvic floor muscles. Keep in mind, that small steps will lead you to greater progress eventually.
Stomach vacuum is the only exercise you are allowed to do in case you have diastasis recti (you can’t do regular crunches and engage your abs in the way you used to). Even if you don’t have diastasis, stomach vacuum will work with your inner abdomen muscles and strengthen them, allowing your intestines to get back to where they were pre-pregnancy and preventing you from having a baby pooch, which is very common in mothers.
Pelvic tilts (or kegel) are essential for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles that became extremely weak within 9 months of pregnancy. The best thing about kegel is that you can do it just about anywhere anytime!
Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to do stomach vacuum and pelvic tilts (videos included).
Your first full body workout
The most important thing you have to be prepared for when you do your first postpartum workout is that how WEAK you body actually is. You might find yourself struggling to do regular push-ups of sweating over doing squats with your body weight, which is completely normal!
When to do your first workout? As soon as your doctor allow you to do exercises, you’re good to go. But don’t overindulge yourself. Start slow. Your regular exercising routine that you did pre-pregnancy (or even during it) might not work. Don’t get discouraged. Getting your body’s strength back would mean making little steps every day. But you can do this!
Aim to lose weight gradually
Don’t rush with weight loss. Take it slow and be patient. The stubborn baby weight will eventually come off. What you need to avoid is rapid weight loss, because a) it may ruin your milk supply, b) you can obtain new stretch marks, c) your breasts may sag.
Best strategy for gradual weight lossis eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and staying active throughout the day.
And if you’re worried that your breasts may drop, losing its shape while you’re breastfeeding and losing postpartum weight, here is a smart guide of 12 things you can do while breastfeeding to avoid breast sagging!
What about you, mama?
Share your experience of postpartum weight loss in comments below. Was it tough? Have you gained a lot during pregnancy? How long did it take you to get your fit body back after baby? What’s your best advice for other mommas out there struggling with weight loss?
I post all comments (providing they have no vulgar language) and really appreciate your opinion!