Losing the Baby Weight: Part 2

("Before" Photo: 1 month before I gave birth to our 2nd son!)

Having lost 50+ lbs of baby weight after each birth so far, I’m following up from Part 1 last week on Healthy Weight Loss, with some specific tips for mamas.

For those of you who are still pregnant, now is a great time to make preparations for promoting weight loss. Those early days you’ll obviously be shedding some pounds pretty quickly, just from the baby, placenta, etc. However, here are a few more ideas:

Drink a Glass of Water Every Hour For the First Day (or Few)

The first 24-36 hours after birthing are such an incredible time of change for your body. You’ll be losing a lot of fluids during birth/postpartum, your blood pressure changes rapidly, and your milk will start to come in. Remind your husband/mom (whomever is around) to keep a full glass by your bedside (and you’d better be in bed!).

Some of those glasses could be a natural electrolyte drink, such as Coconut Water or Recharge (or in addition to the water). I stocked up on cases of these beverages ahead of time, to make it simple for helpers to bring me a drink when I was nursing the baby.

Not only will you be replenishing lost fluids and stabilizing blood pressure, all these glasses of water can help with a bit of “fat flushing,” too. This is the perfect time for it, because you’ll have a hungry little one who can use those extra calories! (Which brings me to the next tip…)

Offer Lots of Breastfeeding

Babies can be pretty sleepy at first, but also may be hungry. Talk with your midwife/doctor about how often baby should be sleeping between feedings, and whether you should wake the baby.

But for the most part, the first day, just “kangaroo care” your newborn skin-to-skin by holding them in bed with you. If visitors are cuddling them, your baby may not show hunger cues.

Since the milk hasn’t really been made available to them yet, and baby is usually feeling pretty cozy, breastfeeding could easily end up being forgotten for those early hours.  They may also sleep more with another person (as nice as that sounds, they really do need to be waking up and feeding/bonding with mama).

Encouraging early breastfeeding by just making it very available, will help them to get those early sips of colostrum (they may be too sleepy to really wake for much of a feeding). Baby may nurse every 30-60 minutes that first day, and that’s ok. It helps your milk to come in and to establish a good supply; in a sense, to tell your body that you really do have a newborn!

(Not all breastfeeding mamas will be able to shed the entirety of their baby weight while still nursing; your body may have some “reserves”- and that’s ok, too! But good long-term breastfeeding can promote a healthy weight for both of you in the long run.)

Don’t Schedule Feedings

As Kim of Large Family Logistics notes, your milk supply often tends to run out much sooner when you schedule those feedings. (Yes, at first it seems like you’ll still have plenty of milk, but somehow it seems to program your body to make less milk later when your baby is older. Your fertility may return sooner, too, making it difficult to shed baby weight in between pregnancies, if they are very close together.)

Feeding your baby on cue results in a regular caloric burn for you, and good nourishment for baby. The resulting times of “cluster feeds” and “extra snack” nursings that babies do as they hit growth spurts don’t fit in a schedule, but they tell your body to give your baby more milk/fats. (Don’t worry, baby really will fall into their own schedule for the most part, nursing every few hours for the first 9-12 months, and they’ll get faster at nursing, too!)

Wear Your Baby

Wearing my babies has always accelerated my weight loss, in adding to allowing for bonding, and availability for nursing if needed. Just basic walking around (no strenuous exercise) while wearing that 10 lb cutie pie is like some kind of weight-bearing exercise. (Make sure you have healed from the birthing, to avoid hemorrhage. If your bleeding increases, go back to bed; you’re not ready to be walking around wearing a baby.)

Later, when they are bigger, you can go on walks while pushing them in a stroller if you want (or keep wearing them!), but take advantage of that time when they’re still relatively tiny.

Turn off the TV

It’s easier to strap on that baby carrier and keep moving, when you’re not trying to sit and watch your show. You’re not multitasking, either, timing your projects for commercial breaks. Just keep moving through the day and evening. You’ll get a lot done, and feel great!

Plus, your baby will get the brain-boosting benefits of seeing life happening, hearing real conversations, and not the influence of TV. What’s to lose?

Watch the Snacks

During pregnancy and postpartum, it is easy to indulge in treats (you’re “eating for two”, or tired and busy). You do need to increase your caloric intake even more while breastfeeding than you did for pregnancy, but make sure they are good calories. Packing on empty calories during pregnancy will make it harder to lose that fat later.

Calories from protein-dense snacks, good fats, and hearty whole grain carbs will make it easier to shed the pounds. If your body isn’t getting nourished, it’s no wonder it’ll think you are in “famine mode” and keep saving the pounds as a survival method. Try grass-fed jerky, hummus, avocados, shrimp salads, brown rice, oatmeal, eggs, almonds, cashews, coconut oil, etc. (See Part 1 for more tips about food.)

Don’t Eat Diet Food

We talked about this a bit in Part 1, but it can be a big change of thought if you’re used to these products. For the most part, just steering clear of packaged foods is the healthier choice. But specifically, those diet foods that are manufactured to be “low fat, low sugar, low sodium, etc” compared to their regular counterparts tend to have some concerning ingredients (especially if they are making up for their lack of flavor with more chemicals!).

Often, the fat substitutes or sweeteners are difficult for your body to process. Instead of recognizing the ingredients as food (because they’re basically not), the ingredient will often just be stored as fat; sometimes first processed by your liver (such as corn syrup, fructose, hydrogenated fats, etc.).

Many real foods are just naturally low in fat, sugar, etc. Just choose wisely.

What has worked for you in shedding extra pounds?

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9 comments to Losing the Baby Weight: Part 2

  • KathrynB

    My 2nd baby is 6 months, and for me, I don’t shed an ounce of weight until my cycles return (around 6 months). I wonder if this is common? It is so frustrating, but hopefully the lbs. will start to slowly melt off now like they did with #1. I simply can’t cut back on calories or exercise too much for the sake of my supply.

    [Reply]

    Michele Reply:

    @KathrynB, It could just be the normal for you, that your body holds on to the reserves for that long. I’m wondering how the early days/months of breastfeeding are for you, though, compared to what I wrote. 6 months is really early to get your cycle back (it does happen, but is rare if you really are nursing a lot… do some research on ecological breastfeeding). Mine usually come back around 15-18 months (fitting with the statistic in Dr. Sear’s attachment parenting books). Also, you should be nursing plenty at that age still, that your supply should stay up, and some light exercise should be fine- such as walks. You definitely want to make sure you get lots of good calories! It’s totally normal and healthy for the baby weight to take several months to come off. Don’t worry! :)
    Thanks for sharing!
    Bessings,
    Michele

    [Reply]

    KathrynB Reply:

    @Michele, Both my girls have been very easy to breastfeed from the beginning. They slept in our room and I fed on demand usually every 2-3 hours during the day and one 4-5 hour stretch at night. They both gained weight fantastically and started sleeping 9-10 hours at night by 4 months. When they drop their night feedings is when my cycles start to come back, usually takes a few months. Maybe, I’m just blessed with good sleepers? I don’t have supply issues, per se, but I do have a noticeable drop in the evenings for about a week during ovulation, and then if returns back to normal.

    [Reply]

    Michele Reply:

    Oh, wow. Mine don’t sleep that long at night until they’re about 1 1/2-2. Yes, night weaning can definitely bring on your cycles. The dip during ovulation is normal, too.
    Thanks! :)

    Sarah Reply:

    @KathrynB, My third baby is 10 months old, and I’ve had the same experience with all three — I don’t lose weight (despite regular workouts at the Y and watching my intake/eating whole foods, etc) until the babies are weaned. One of my sisters is the same way, and this happened with all six of her kids. So don’t feel like the problem is you (in spite of well-meaning people telling you that breastfeeding will just melt the pounds…so irritating). Some of us just are genetically programmed to hang onto the weight during breastfeeding, in spite of what other people may claim as universally true about the weight loss associated with all the extra calories expended.

    [Reply]

  • I am not fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed my babies, which is frustrating enough in itself, but I also don’t recieve the weight loss benefits nursing provides just in calorie burning alone. I am pretty simple minded with my weightloss. Less to eat, move more. This includes for me an all natural, whole foods diet and working out in the evenings. I do have to remind myself that slowly and surely the weight will come off!

    [Reply]

    Michele Reply:

    @Emily, Good perspective, Emily. Completely not being able to breastfeed is rare, but I know that is the case for some. I hope you have been able to consult with a lactation consultant to see if there might be any additional answers for you. I have a friend that was recently able to nurse her 3rd baby, after not having milk for the first two,

    Anyway, for my first baby that I didn’t breastfeed, I did still lose plenty of weight just by wearing her all the time, and going on lots of walks! :) Yes, slow weight loss is usually the healthiest way to go, I’ve heard. Good job!
    Blessings,
    Michele :)

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    Yes, Michelle, I have seen many, many, many lactation consultants. I have had my thyroid tested, I have taken every herb known to man. I have pumped, I have used nipple shields, I have drank water and eaten the right foods. I have 5 beautiful daughters, none of which were able to nurse, all of them I struggled to try and supply them with breastmilk. Low Caloric breastmilk is rare, but it does happen. It is also rare to healthily gain 50 pounds during pregancy and easily shed it by nursing alone afterwards. Most women are in need of effort to shed those frustrating pounds that pregancy shares with us. I would be interested to hear what other moms have been able to do to loose weight after birth.
    We all have different situations that we are blessed to deal with. I would never simply choose to give my child second-rate nutrition if nursing were possible.
    I do wear my children on occasion, my husband gave me a wonderful wrap when our second child was born, I just simply didn’t have enough hands anymore! It’s a good thing that we all end up with wonderful children whether we choose to wear our children or train them to sleep in their crib! While I’m sure feeding on demand and snack feeding can work for some parents, it is also important to help our babies for a healthy metabolism and get the good regenerative sleep that they need for there growing bodies!

    [Reply]

    Michele Reply:

    @Emily, Thanks for your thoughts, Emily. :)

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