Snap Back, Bounce Back, Body Back...all terms you hear when it comes to moms that have dropped baby weight rapidly after giving birth (all terms that I think are inappropriate, but that’s for another post). Celebrities seem to do this rather well. So the question becomes, when is it appropriate to start thinking about weight loss after giving birth? My answer is two fold, but I will try to keep it simple.
If you begin your pregnancy at a healthy weight, the guidelines state 25-35 pounds of weight gain is recommended. Some women gain more and some less. The goal during pregnancy, as it should be at all times during your life, is to maintain a healthy weight that’s appropriate for you. Weight gain is healthy during pregnancy, but excessive weight gain is not. Excessive weight gain can make it harder for you to lose weight after pregnancy. The point I want to drive home here, is that your first consideration of postpartum weight loss should be while you’re pregnant. Your goal should be to make good food choices, be physically active and consider other lifestyle factors that promote healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
For many of you reading this, you’re beyond pregnancy and probably want to know when to start thinking about weight loss after having baby. You’ll notice that immediately after giving birth your numbers on the scale will drop (losing fluid, weight of baby, etc.). So when should you start thinking about the rest?
I’ll preface it by making it clear that I feel your priority is adjusting to life as a mom and taking care of baby. But, there are many moms that feel the pressure from our “snapback” society or from the expectations you have for yourself to get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans. Some of you may physically feel uncomfortable hanging on to the extra weight. Beth Auguste, RD of Be Well With Beth agrees, “we hear so much about snapping back that it makes sense if you want to prioritize weight loss, but it not what your body needs. Now is the time to remind yourself that your body needs nutrients to heal, especially if you are breastfeeding”. Although it may not a priority, it is on the minds of a lot of moms so discussing weight loss is relevant. Here is my guide to help you determine if you’re ready to start making an effort toward weight loss:
Are you incorporating healthy habits? Maintaining a healthy weight is a lifestyle. Your weight loss efforts will be difficult if you haven’t found a way to incorporate healthy habits into your new life as a mom. Examples include: not skipping meals, drinking enough water, finding time to move, etc.
Are you recovered? It can take your body up to 12 months to recover after having a baby and this should be priority. Consider: whether your c-section scar has healed, how are you feeling emotionally? Is your core getting stronger? Are you finding time to sleep? Registered dietician, Jennifer Weis, shares, “there are other concerns during this time such as healing any birth wounds, ensuring a nutrient dense diet and keeping mom well-fed to be able to handle the stresses of taking care of a new baby while sleep deprived”.
Is exercise a stressor? Weight loss efforts are best when you combine exercise and nutrition. However, structured workouts shouldn’t be a priority if finding time for them causes you stress (stress hormones make it hard to lose weight), or if you’re severely sleep deprived and won’t be able to recover, or if exercise makes you feel physically worse.
So if you’re postpartum and can say your habits are healthy, you’re recovered and structured exercise seems realistic, then yes, it may be appropriate for you to up your weight loss efforts. This timeline will be different for every mom. Weight loss progress will be different for every mom (consider factors such as whether hormones are still affected by breastfeeding, your age, the volume of exercise, nutrition habits, weight loss history, genetics, etc.). If you need some guidance on this process, don't hesitate to reach out to me.
Stay tuned for my next post on nutrition strategies for weight loss. As always, these posts are inspired by moms like you. If you find them interesting, please share on social media.