During pregnancy, women gain 25 to 35 pounds. Every woman is different, but here's a general idea of where the weight you gained goes:
- Baby: 7.5 pounds
- Placenta: 1.5 pounds
- Uterus: 2 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
- Breast tissue: 2 pounds
- Blood: 4 pounds
- Maternal fat stores: 7 pounds
You may not need to lose as much weight as you think. The good news is you'll lose about 13 pounds as soon as you give birth. This is the combined weight of the baby, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid. Over the course of the next week after delivery, you'll lose some more weight as you get rid of extra fluids. However, the fat you stored during pregnancy won't go away on its own. Here are six tips for losing weight after pregnancy.
Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. Women who exclusively breastfed their babies for at least the first three months weighed an average of three pounds less one year after giving birth. While the effect isn't dramatic, women who breastfed exclusively were more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy weight as well.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months, so it's nice to know you can shed a few pounds while giving your baby the healthiest start in life.
Simply adding more fiber to your postpartum diet can help you lose weight, even if you don't change anything else. Harvard researchers found that people who ate 30 grams of fiber without changing anything else about their diet lost almost as much weight as those who strictly followed the American Heart Association's dietary guidelines.
Here are some easy ways to add more fiber to your diet:
- High fiber cereals such as Fiber One
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
- Vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Pears with skin
- Apples with skin
Eating ultra processed foods is linked to increased calorie intake and weight gain. Ultra processed foods contain ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents, and emulsifiers. They're usually high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt.
People who eat a diet high in these processed foods eat an average of 500 calories more daily than they do when they eat a diet of minimally processed foods. Ultra processed foods include foods such as:
- Frozen meals
- Soft drinks
- Hot dogs
- Cold cuts
- Fast food
- Packaged cookies
- Salty snacks
It may seem impossible to get enough sleep when you're taking care of a newborn who wakes you up every two hours. Unfortunately, if you don't get enough sleep after your baby is born, you're more likely to have a hard time losing the baby weight.
Getting enough sleep will also help you adjust to motherhood better. Here are some strategies to help you get more sleep with a new baby in the house:
- Ask your family and friends for help. Many might love to take care of your baby while you take a nap.
- Put your baby's crib near your bed so it's easier to take care of them at night.
- Avoid caffeine since it can interfere with your sleep.
- Have your partner share nighttime baby duty. It may help to pump milk so you can sleep through the 2:00 a.m. feeding.
- Skip the chores and take a nap.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps as often as possible.
Eating foods high in protein can suppress your appetite and help you reduce your calorie consumption. Protein makes you feel fuller so you're less likely to overeat. It can also help you burn calories. Your body uses more calories digesting protein than it does other nutrients.
You should aim for a little over 7 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight. It's important to get your protein in healthy food, though. A cup of lentils has almost as much protein as a 4-ounce ham steak but none of the saturated fat and sodium and much more fiber. Healthy sources of protein include:
- Wild rice
Exercise provides a lot of benefits besides weight loss. While exercise alone isn't very effective for losing weight, combining exercise with eating a healthy diet is more effective than a healthy diet alone. Talk to your doctor about the best time to start exercising.
Once you've been cleared to exercise, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. If you can't get 30 minutes of exercise at one time, it's fine to break it up into smaller chunks throughout your day.
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- Preventative Medicine: "Effects of breastfeeding on postpartum weight loss among U.S. women."
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Making one change — getting more fiber — can help with weight loss."
- Harvard Health Publishing: "What are ultra-processed foods and are they bad for our health?"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "New Parents: Tips for Quality Rest."
- Journal of Psychosomatic Research: "The Impact of Sleep, Stress, and Depression on Postpartum Weight Retention: A Systematic Review."
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance."
- The Nutrition Source: "Protein."
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Healthy Pregnant or Postpartum Women."
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Diet or Exercise Interventions vs Combined Behavioral Weight Management Programs: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Direct Comparisons."