The average woman gains 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. Breast tissue, fat storage, and an enlarged uterus combine with the baby’s weight and placenta/amniotic fluid to put on extra pounds. Your uterus shrinks back to its normal size after six weeks. Most women will still have some excess fat stored up, and need to eat healthy and exercise to work off that weight.

Most women lose up to 12 pounds right after giving birth. The size of the baby and weight of the placenta and amniotic fluid add up to help you shed one-third of weight gain.

You’ll need to be careful and learn about how the body recovers from giving birth if you want to lose weight after having a baby.

Take It Slow with Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss

Not all women will have a bigger baby if they gain a lot of weight during pregnancy. Keep in mind, however, that gaining more than 25 to 35 pounds will make it harder to lose weight and get in shape after the baby is born.

Eat a healthy diet for the first six weeks after having your baby, and don’t worry about losing weight or counting calories. Right after giving birth, you’ll be sleep deprived, stressed, and lack the desire to exercise. Save your energy to improve your health and take care of your baby.

Lose one or two pounds a week. Don’t try to lose weight too fast. Low-calorie crash diets will make you feel weaker and even disoriented. You’ll be less able to care for your newborn baby if you’re tired and lacking vital nutrients.

Wait for six weeks after your baby is born to start dieting. Subtract a few hundred calories a day, but be sure to eat at least 1600 calories. Check the USDA’s MyPyramid.gov website to determine the recommended amount of calories for your age and take off a few hundred calories (usually no more than 500) from your daily total.

What to Eat on a Post-Pregnancy Diet

When you go on a post-pregnancy diet, make sure to include only whole, high-nutrient foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, eggs, and grass-fed beef. Eat small, balanced meals three or four times a day to maintain your energy. Snack on fruits, high-fiber foods, and protein-rich cheese. Get rid of all the sweets, junk food, fats and oils in your kitchen.

Drink water, herbal tea, milk and fruit juice, but avoid alcohol or drink an occasional glass of wine.

Don’t compare your post-pregnancy weight-loss program to that of any celebrity. Celebrities have nannies to take care of their babies and lots of money for nutritionists and personal trainers. Regular Moms don’t have those luxuries. Concentrate on healthy eating and reduce calories bit by bit after six weeks, and you should get back to your “fighting weight” in about a year.

How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Baby Weight?

Some sources claim you can cut off as many as 500-750 calories a day off your daily recommended calorie allowance. You’ll need to drop 3500 calories per week (500 a day) to lose one pound a week.

Check with your doctor about how many calories to cut, especially if you’re still feeling weak. Don’t worry about adhering to the popular 1,200 calories a day limit. It can be dangerous and stressful to stay on such a low-calorie diet. Hunger, weakness and eventual bingeing can result from a diet that restricts too many calories.

Eating 1,500 calories a day instead of 1200 can make a real difference in how satiated you feel, and in the number of nutrients in your food. As you lose weight and get closer to your weight goal, you can lower the number of calories you take in each day.

Every Mom loses weight at a different pace, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t lose all the weight you want in six months or a year. Maintaining a nutritious diet is key, so stock your kitchen with healthy foods and cook your meals.

Can I Lose Weight If I’m Breastfeeding?

Don’t go on a diet if you are breastfeeding. Nursing Moms need to make the most of calories and nutrition. Skimping on vitamins, minerals, and calories will reduce the quality of breast milk, and your baby’s health will suffer.

Breastfeeding Moms require more calories than bottle-feeding Moms. A lactating 30-year-year-old Mom needs 2100 to 2300 calories a day, roughly 300 more calories than other women the same age.

You’ll need to wait until you’re finished breastfeeding to go on a diet. Breastfeeding is the best way to provide nutrition for your infant. You can rest easy knowing you’re giving your baby everything he or she needs for proper growth.

What you eat affects breast milk quality. Avoid processed foods and added sugar. Choose from fruits, veggies, meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, nuts, and seeds – the same foods you should eat all the time for good health. Among the best choices – berries have Vitamin C and antioxidants, nuts contain magnesium and Vitamin E, and lentils are high in fiber.

Here’s a list of nutritious foods you should eat, before, during, and after breastfeeding.

Does Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight?

A pair of female feet standing on a bathroom scale

Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding doesn’t burn up lots of calories. You will burn a little body fat, but some remains to fuel breastfeeding. Most women have to wait until they stop breastfeeding to lose weight. Six months is the average time that Moms breastfeed their babies, which leaves six months for weight loss before the one-year mark.

Large amounts of some nutrients affect breastmilk, while even small amounts of others appear in milk. Remember that anything you eat or drink (and the medications you take) may adversely affect breast milk and may even be dangerous to your baby.

Exercise and Losing Baby Weight

You can return to your pre-pregnancy physical activity within a few weeks of a vaginal delivery. Wait at least six weeks before exercising after a C-section, and always consult your OB-GYN before returning to regular physical activity. Some doctors believe it’s best for a woman who has a C-section to wait three months before exercising. Waiting will ensure that the pelvic floor fully heals.

After six weeks, you should be ready to start walking again. Take your baby out for two 15 minute walks every day. Increase the amount of time you spend on each walk gradually. You can also do yoga at home, or join an exercise program for Moms and babies.

As long as your doctor has cleared you for it, you can participate in any physical activity you like, from jogging to swimming to horseback riding. There’s a better chance you’ll stick with your exercise routine if it’s an activity you enjoy.

Factors That Affect Weight Loss

Your metabolism gets slower as you age, so you’ll burn fewer calories at 35 than 25. Your activity level also determines how many calories you’ll burn. A Mom working a non-sedentary job will burn more calories than a Mom who has to sit all day at work. Pay attention to your posture if you have to sit most of the day (or even if you don’t). Good posture will help tone your abs.

When you eat large meals early in the day instead of late at night, you’ll burn more calories. Avoid eating a large dinner after 6pm, and drink lots of water.

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