Investing in Health: Losing Weight Post-Baby

From the pregnancy glow to the new baby's giggles and smiles, welcoming a little bundle of joy into your family is often a heart warming, happy experience. But despite those adorable tiny toes and cute little coos that invade your home, there can be one thorn in your side: extra post-pregnancy weight. If you have put on a little jelly in your belly, have no fear. Banishing the bulge is possible. Follow along for some tips and tricks from a newly slender mom.

My Story: Following the Best Doctor's Advice Ever

At my six week post-pregnancy check up, my doctor gave me some great advice: “Exercise daily, eat three square meals per day, and add in healthy snacks; the pounds will melt off. Don't eat any junk. Well, maybe just a little junk {wink}.” I followed her advice to a T, and I lost weight rather rapidly.

The key to my weight loss was watching my portion sizes in those three square meals, eating healthy snacks like fruit or yogurt, and walking every day. By three months post-partum, I was back into my skinny jeans (yay!). I was nursing, though, so my weight loss was boosted by my little calorie-burning machine, aka “The Baby.” Even so, nursing or not, weight loss is possible for the new mommas...but there are some common thoughts that can trip up everyone. Let's look at those common mishaps.

Some Tricky Weight Loss Bandits

Although my doc made post-pregnancy weight loss sound simple enough, there are a few traps to watch out for. Here are some of the common thoughts that can derail your weight loss efforts:

  • “Nursing Moms Can Eat with Abandon” – One of the wonderful benefits of nursing is the extra calorie burn. Mothers who opt to breastfeed can take in an extra 500 calories from their pre-pregnancy maintenance diet and not gain a pound. Obviously, then, eating the same amount of food or slightly less than consumed during pregnancy will result in weight loss. The calorie trap here, though, is that nursing can give mommas the munchies, and it's easy to eat too much. Watching food intake is key for nursing moms who want to shed a few pounds.
  • “I Can Starve Myself Thin” – Many people think that eating a tiny amount of food will result in weight loss, but starving yourself can have the opposite effect. When your body senses that you're eating too little, it will stop burning as many calories. This results in lethargy – a terrible state when you're already tired from taking care of a baby! – and no weight loss. Instead, eating at least 1200 calories for formula feeding moms or 1500 calories for nursing moms can produce the best results.
  • “One Meal Per Day is Fine” – Although it is tempting to eat one large meal per day when you're a super-busy new mommy, the tactic is terrible for your diet. Your body will go into starvation mode if you're not fueling it throughout the day. Aiming to at least snack several times throughout the day and eat a large meal with the family can produce better diet results.

Of course, every woman is different, and weight loss can be stifled by a metabolism change post-pregnancy. If you're having trouble losing weight, talk to your doctor about any potential medical issues. But for many mommas, following a sensible diet and exercising can help shed that unwanted baby weight.

How about you, MV readers: how did you lose your post-baby pooch?

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Anonymous's picture

TB at BlueCollarWorkman wrote:

Mon, 12/10/2012 - 13:50 Comment #: 1

Being a dude, I've never had a kid of course, lol, but after my wife had our girls, she started doing exactly what you say here. She'd go on a fast walk every day and watched what she ate. And the effort really showed, I'm proud of her!

Anonymous's picture

AverageJoe wrote:

Wed, 12/12/2012 - 17:19 Comment #: 2

I still have mine.

I know, I know...not aimed at me, but it was too easy....

Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Sat, 12/15/2012 - 02:27 Comment #: 3

I remember being shocked when I found out that you're supposed to get more extra calories while breastfeeding (500) than while pregnant (200-300.) I took full advantage. While I didn't drink caffeine, I did have some soda on occasion. Cutting the pop completely helped me drop about 15 pounds FAST.

Love your advice. Healthy is the only way to go when losing it. For you and for baby.

Anonymous's picture

Mandy @ Money Master Mom wrote:

Sat, 12/15/2012 - 13:14 Comment #: 4

I actually found it easier to lose the weight after my 2nd and 3rd baby. Instead of having to try to find time to exercise I was doing it all day long while playing/chasing my toddlers :) Also it's good advice to drink water like no one's business. It's good for your milk, and good for your body to clean out junk.

Anonymous's picture

Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals wrote:

Sat, 12/15/2012 - 21:56 Comment #: 5

I have NEVER been one of those "Skinny girls" - until after my daughter was born. Thanks to nursing (to my surprise, I was one of those nursing moms who could eat absolutely anything and still lose weight), I lost all my baby weight plus ten pounds; with my second child, I lost all the baby weight and *another* ten pounds on top of that! For me, nursing on demand was the key, but I have heard plenty of women - including both my sisters-in-law - who had the weight just cling on until they weaned! I think it's different for every woman.

Anonymous's picture

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter wrote:

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 14:39 Comment #: 6

I haven't had kids yet but I have worked to lose weight over the years. Portion control and exercise have worked the best for me.

My sister in law is nursing right now and she is always hungry. I hope it doesn't get out of control for her.

Good luck to you Christa. You will do great.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 19:09 Comment #: 7

TB, great for your wife! It's so nice when dieting works -- and it's definitely something to be proud of!

Joe, too funny! I bet you could take off your pregnancy weight in the same ways...well, besides the nursing.

FF, I know. I was shocked too at how many calories nursing burns! It's nice because I don't really feel deprived while dieting now.

Mandy, water is an excellent tip. I know I feel like a camel right now with how much water or decaf tea I drink.

Elizabeth, I'm the same way. My whole life, I was either at the top end of normal BMI or overweight, and now I'm at a normal weight. It's amazing to me!

Miss T, nursing definitely does make a woman more hungry. I haven't spoken to a single woman who hasn't had an increase in her hunger. But with the calorie burn, following hunger cues usually evens out to a slow weight loss, as long as the food eaten is healthy.

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