Wondering how to lose weight after baby when you have approximately 0 time to yourself and are running on fumes? You’re in the right place!
The postpartum experience can be so jarring. For 9 months your sole focus has been taking care of yourself, and then suddenly you are given a helpless tiny being that sucks up 100% of your attention. Each time I gave birth, I found myself wishing for my old body back. Somehow I was supposed to accomplish this goal with no alone time, no gym membership, no sleep and no energy.
Despite these overwhelming obstacles, I managed to lose all the baby weight each time.
And since I love myself and don’t practice things like fat-shaming or self-loathing, I did it in a relatively painless way.
Here are my best tips for those who want to know the easy way to lose weight after baby.
The First Six Weeks Postpartum
Ladies, listen to your doctors or midwives. For the first six weeks after having a baby, you should be doing nothing.
When I say “nothing”, you’re doing tons of things (getting to know your new baby, figuring out breastfeeding or bottle feeding, keeping up with their health and appointments, recovering from birth both physically and emotionally, fighting to get sleep whenever you can, keeping a household running, possibly caring for older children, trying to remember you have a spouse, and more!)
But you should be doing nothing when it comes to weight loss.
You are healing. You shouldn’t be exercising, and you don’t have time to focus on meal planning. If people bring you casseroles, eat them. If you need to order pizza, do it.
After you get your six week clearance, start making slow and gradual changes.
Slow and steady progress is the way to be here. Remember it took 9 months to put the weight on, so give yourself 9 months for it to come off. Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.
People who go around talking about how they fit back in their skinny jeans when they left the hospital are either lying or are are unicorns!
Easing Back Into Exercise
When it comes to exercise, ease back in gradually. Build it into your daily routine, and go easy.
Being home with a baby can be boring so it helps in general to make a daily routine. In addition at scheduling naps and feedings, your routine can include daily walks. It soothes babies to be outside, so outdoor walks with the baby in a stroller or baby wrap is ideal. If it’s bad weather, the mall is a good backup plan.
A brisk walk is an effective form of exercise (try to get yourself breathing a little harder than normal, you don’t want it to be a stroll unless it’s in the very beginning!) Once baby is old enough and you’re ready to kick it up a notch, try jogging with a jogging stroller.
In addition to cardio, you’ll want to incorporate some strength training into your routine. This is relatively easy to squeeze into your day when baby is still immobile. While baby plays on floor or in a bouncy chair, do some body weight exercises or hand weights. You can even do lunges, squats, and calf raises while holding the baby. Bonus: fussy babies tend to love that up and down motion!
The Right Mindset for Food
Know what never works? Writing a list of “banned” foods you are not going to allow yourself to eat and taping it to the fridge.
Just like toddlers and teens (and just about all humans), when we are told we can’t do something, our immediate response is to want to do it.
A more positive approach is to make a list of foods you want to eat more of, like water, protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. The way I explain it to my children is: these are your GO foods.
White carbs like bread, pasta, rice, pizza, muffins, and high sugar foods like cookies, cakes and packaged snacks are WHOA foods. We aren’t going to ban them, we are just going to proceed with caution around them.
Limiting the portion size and only having them once in a while helps to not feel deprived, but still see the number on the scale go down.
Make Healthy Food Convenient
One of the biggest obstacles to weight loss for new moms is not having time to cook 3 decent meals each day. When we are short on time, we grab whatever is quick and easy which tends to be junk food.
This is where we need work smarter, not harder.
Here are some ways to get more healthy meals made in less time:
- When you are making something healthy, make enough for it to last several meals (soups, stir fry, etc).
- Make use of your slow cooker or Instant Pot! There are tons of healthy recipes on Pinterest, and these make it easy to throw food in when you have time earlier in the day instead of having to cook during your baby’s dreaded “witching hour”.
- Prepare some healthy food to keep in the fridge and grab when you need it. Hard boiled eggs, cut up veggies, grilled chicken, and cottage cheese are easy things to keep on hand.
- Try batch cooking on the weekends when your spouse is home to help with the baby. Make 2 or 3 dishes that will keep in the fridge or freeze well for later in the week.
A goal of mine is to include a protein and a fruit or vegetable in every meal I eat. It takes 5 minutes to make scrambled eggs in the morning and pair it with avocado on toast, or just plain with a piece of fruit.
For lunch I like to throw together a wrap with grilled chicken, hot sauce, a sprinkle of shredded Mexican cheese and some lettuce.
By dinner time I usually have some help from my husband, who loves to make salmon or another fish- just throw it on some foil and bake it! Or we just eat something from my slow cooker (chicken tortilla soup is a favorite.)
Another really easy dinner that is full of superfoods is this version of a Cobb salad:
- raw spinach
- bell pepper
- black olives
- hard boiled eggs
Throw it together with a little balsamic vinigraitte. I could eat it every day! And I don’t feel bad at all if I need a piece of chocolate or something sweet after to top it off.
Breastfeeding Benefits and Pitfalls
Breastfeeding tends to help women lose weight, but it can be a bit of a double-edged sword.
The most obvious benefit is that it burns up to 500 calories per day, which is the equivalent of a good workout you can do without even moving!
However, many people find themselves ravenous when they’re breastfeeding and they find it difficult to control their eating.
This is compounded by the way Moms tend to get busy and lose track of time. If you are breastfeeding and go several hours without eating, you’re looking at a total rage feast coming your way.
To combat this, be proactive about keeping your food and water intake evenly spaced throughout the day. Some people say to “sleep when the baby sleeps”, but I think better advice is to eat when the baby eats!
Let’s say you are nursing every 3 hours. Every time you feed, make a point to drink a big glass of water (this is necessary for your milk supply too) and when baby is done eating, eat a snack or small meal.
Keeping your blood sugar up with stop you from binge eating later and it will help keep your energy level stable.
Another note about breastfeeding and weight loss
I largely credit breastfeeding for helping me get back to my pre-baby weight, and many women do too. However, it’s also normal for some people to hold on to a little extra weight while they’re still breastfeeding.
The body is smart: it knows how much energy goes into making breastmilk. It’s a natural reaction to keep some fat reserves as a safeguard for mother and baby.
If you are doing everything right and find your weight loss after baby has plateaued, it might be due to breastfeeding. Have patience and see if you can shed those last pounds after you’ve weaned.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Raise your hand if you are guilty of the Mom stereotype of drinking coffee all morning, then switching to wine at night.
Believe me, I do it too.
I love myself so I’d never make myself quit coffee or wine, and I won’t ask you to do it either.
Instead, just try to make a deal with yourself. If you have 3 sugary coffees per day, try to cut down to 1 or 2.
I tried to cut down one, but never could quite make it, so I compromised with myself to 1.5. To this day, I drink 1 and a half cups of coffee everyday.
Same goes for wine (or beer or mojitos or whatever floats your boat). If you settle down at night with a drink or two five nights per week, try to cut down to only 2 or 3 nights per week. You might find you’re just doing it out of habit and are totally fine without it.
On the nights I’m not drinking, an iced seltzer water with a spritz of lime helps me to not feel like something is missing.
Moms Share What Helped Them Lose the Baby Weight
Suchot shares: I lost the baby weight by babywearing, going for lots of walks, and being patient. I put no time limits on myself to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. It wasn’t a fast or dramatic process but felt natural.
Brittni says: My biggest tip is to actually eat MORE rather than less. Specifically, eat more often. Especially if you are breastfeeding! This keeps your metabolism working throughout the day and prevents your body from holding onto the fat as a precaution from not consuming enough calories on a regular basis.
Melinda‘s best advice is: Make meals and freeze them before you have the baby so you’re less tempted to choose fast food when you don’t feel like cooking. Incorporate your baby into your workouts! You can do this when they’re awake: it keeps them entertained, and then later you have time nap while they nap instead of trying to exercise. Check out Youtube for mommy and me workouts, or just go for a brisk stroll around the block!
Beth shares her secret: The BEST thing I did was join Stroller Strides, an exercise group where you could bring your kiddos with you. The exercises are designed to keep the older babies entertained (like peek a boo pop-ups) and it was also a great way to meet some local moms and get out of the house.
Lindsey says, Using your baby as a weight! If they can hold their head up by themselves, it’s a great way to get yourself in shape while still bonding with you baby! My almost 10 month old loveeesss to be squat with. She thinks it’s the funniest thing ever!
Stay positive and be gentle with yourself!
Everyone gets back to their new normal after having a baby in their own time and in their own way. Focus on being healthy and active and not only will you get back in shape, you’ll be happier and feel better too!