How long does it take to lose baby weight? (2023)

After nine months of growing belly and feeling like your body doesn't quite feel like your own, you're ready to regain some normalcy — starting maybe with slipping back into your old jeans. So what do you need to do to get there and how long will it take?

While many of us wish we could magically shed all those extra pregnancy pounds once the baby is finally here, the fact is no one — not even celebs! — snaps back to her pre-baby body so quickly.

There are many things you can do to get back in shape. But it's really important to give yourself a break: your body has just given birth to another being. Things moved, stretched and grew to make this possible.

So don't focus on "getting your body back" (it actually got nowhere!), focus on creating a healthy, happy, and - possibly slightly differently shaped - you. Here's how to do just that.

How Much Weight Do You Lose After Giving Birth?

Most women lose about 13 pounds after giving birth, whether they delivered vaginally or via cesarean section. The majority of this comes from your baby, of course - as most new bundles weigh between 5½ and 8¾ pounds.

The rest of that initial weight loss comes from the birth of the placenta and the loss of the amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby in the womb. You can lose a little more in the first week after giving birth simply by shedding retained fluids. (If it feels like peeing andsweat more than usual, for this reason!)

Considering that average weight women should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy, this loss is a healthy start. But of course that's not all. Your body is still holding on to excess weight from the fat stores you've gained throughout your pregnancy, which aren't going away anytime soon.

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And even if you're close to your pre-pregnancy weight soon after giving birth, your body will likely still look a little different than what you're used to. AsYour uterus shrinks back downup to pre-pregnancy size (which usually takes about six weeks), your belly will still look round and swollen.

How long does it take to lose weight after pregnancy?

Lots of women who won thatrecommended amount of weightfind during pregnancy that they can return to their old weight within six months to a year after giving birth – which experts say is a reasonable goal.

But that's just an estimate, and ultimately every timeline is unique. For example, if you gained more than the recommended amount of weight during your pregnancy, it may take extra time - from 10 months to two years - to recover.

Also, keep in mind that even after you reach that familiar number on the scale, your body may not look exactly the same as it used to. Some women notice that their stomachs are softer, their hips are wider, or their breasts are smaller (especially if they have been breastfeeding) after having a baby.

And that's more than okay. It is wonderful! All of these changes are the result of the incredible physical effort of growing and bringing your child into the world - and they deserve to be celebrated.

Does breastfeeding help you lose weight?

It can. Your body burns between 400 and 500 calories a daymake breast milkthat come from your diet and the fat you stored during pregnancy. This calorie burning boost is enough to help some moms get back to their pre-pregnancy weight without doing much else.

Breastfeeding also stimulates the release of hormones that help shrink your uterus and abdomen after childbirth.

Still, breastfeeding isn't a guaranteed ticket back to your pre-baby body, and you shouldn't necessarily think of it that way. In fact, many moms find that they eat more than usual while breastfeeding because they are so much hungrier, which in turn means they are holding on to the last 5 to 10 pounds of baby weight.

This increased appetite is completely normal - your bodyneedsmore calories to boost your milk production. Additionally, ignoring your appetite or consciously trying to limit your food intake too much can potentially dampen your milk production. Moms often find that they shed the last few pounds once they stop breastfeeding and their appetites return to normal. Just make sure you don't continue eating the extra 400 to 500 calories a day after breastfeeding.

If breastfeeding alone isn't enough to get you back to your old weight, experts agree it's safe to adjust your food intake and exercise to try and lose up to 1½ pounds a week. But stay away from crash diets that promise faster weight loss — they could impact your milk production.

What Foods Should Be Included in Your Post Baby Diet?

Since your body needs a lot of rest andNutrition to recover from childbirthYou shouldn't fend off infections and feed your baby at allthinkabout dieting until your baby is at least 6 weeks old or older - no matter how excited you are to squeeze back into your pre-pregnancy clothes.

Once you feel ready to start a post-baby diet and you've gotten the okay from your doctor, make sure you're still eating enough calories. Crash dieting isn't just risky for you: if you're breastfeeding and under-eating, your body will end up producing less milk — meaning your hungry, growing baby will diet with you.

Additionally, burning fat too quickly (more than 1½ pounds per week) can trigger the release of toxins that pass into breast milk and can cause your body to lose water and lean tissue. Even if you're not breastfeeding, not consuming enough calories can fool your body into thinking you're starving. This confusion can actuallyslow it downYour metabolism, which makes it harder to shed the extra pounds over time.

Remember, if you're breastfeeding, your calorie needs are even greater in the first six months after delivery than in the last trimester of pregnancy. Your doctor can help you determine exactly how many calories you should be consuming, as the number depends on your pre-pregnancy BMI and activity level.

To put things in perspective, the average woman needs about 2,000 calories a day, and breastfeeding women should consume an additional 400 to 500 calories to maintain their current weight.

To lose a pound, however, you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories a week, or 500 fewer calories a day, by eating less or exercising more — meaning the average breastfeeding woman would lose again at around 2,000 calories a day a pound a week.

Whether you're breastfeeding or not, when choosing foods to support your weight loss efforts, you can stick to the same healthy eating principles you followed during your pregnancy: Fill up on healthy, nutrient-dense picks that fill you up and deplete -limit calorie snacks. Strive for moderate portions of foods like:

  • Fruits and vegetables.Fresh or frozen are both good choices, so take your pick.
  • Full grain.Think oatmeal, whole wheat bread or pasta, brown rice, or quinoa.
  • lean protein.Low-mercury fish and shellfish, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, tofu, and beans or legumes are all good choices.
  • Low fat dairy products.Try plain yogurt, milk, cheese or cottage cheese.
  • Healthy Fats.Think nuts, seeds, avocado or olive oil.

When can you start exercising after giving birth?

Exercising can help support your weight loss effortsAndgive you that much-needed boost of energy. So it pays to say yes to exercise when your body feels ready for it.

It's okay to start light exercise a few days after giving birth if you exercised before pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. If you had a cesarean or had complications during childbirth, you may have to wait at least six weeks before you can resume physical activity. But it's best to get your doctor's official approval before you start.

In any case, remember that just because you're approved for training, you don't have to start right away. If you feel you need a little more time, don't rush.

When you first start exercising, you should be moving 20 to 30 minutes a day, breaking it up into shorter chunks if necessary.Start with exercisesDesigned to strengthen your weakened core muscles and back like modified crunches or light aerobic activity like walking. You can gradually increase the intensity as you feel ready, but never train to exhaustion.

Tips to help you stay healthy after giving birth

Sure, you might be excited to slip back into your old clothes. But when you broaden your focus from weight loss to making healthy choices, you can get back in shape without the pressure. These tips can help you stay on track:

  • To team up.Support is a must for maintaining healthy habits with a baby — so get your partner on board. After dinner, take a walk instead of watching TV and commit to making healthier food choices together. Take turns preparing healthy meals while the other looks after the baby instead of ordering takeout.
  • Keep healthy snacks handy.That feeling of needing to eat right away can come out of nowhere, especially if you're breastfeeding. Having healthy munchies within reach — think fresh fruit, nuts, plain yogurt, or sliced ​​veggies with hummus — means you'll be less tempted to reach for that half-eaten pint of ice cream from the back of the freezer.
  • Find activities you love.Hate hitting it on the treadmill? Do not do it. You're more likely to stick with workouts over the long term if you enjoy them.
  • Don't discount the little things.Even fit a little extra activity into your daily routine. Every step counts, so don't neglect the little things: you'll be amazed at how many calories you'll burn through a range of everyday activities.
  • Don't be all or nothing.Everyone deserves a treat now and then, especially new moms. Try to eat 80 percent healthy food, but don't skip cookies or ice cream cones if you areReallyin the mood.
  • Stay positive.Focus on what you've achieved so far and the weight you've already lost, and remember that fitness is about more than the number you see on the scale.

Above all, give yourself the same patience and grace that you would give to a close friend who was in your place. Remember, it took you nine months to gain the weight, so it's perfectly normal for it to take that long to lose it (or even longer - you've got a baby to look after now!).

More importantly, don't forget that you created a fabulous human being who adores you - all of you. So instead of staring at your tummy, take a look at your beautiful baby and relax.

From the What to Expect editorial team andHeidi Murkoff,author ofWhat to expect when you are pregnant. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and reputable healthcare organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up to date by reading ourmedical review and editorial guidelines.

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