How to lose pregnancy weight safely
A wider waist and softer belly are natural – and important – parts of any healthy pregnancy. According to the NHS, most women will put on 10-12.5kg at this time (1). Aside from the obvious reasons for weight gain – you’re growing a little human – the body stores fat to make milk when your tot is born, as well as extra fluid (water) for the baby’s circulation, amniotic fluid, and placenta (2).
Unfortunately, there’s still pressure on new mums to ‘snap back’ after pregnancy, an idea perpetuated by celebrities and influencers on social media. But this narrative is dangerous and damaging. The body needs time to heal after pregnancy. And that’s okay. Be kind to yourself. Rest and relax. Bond with your baby.
Midwives generally recommend most mothers start considering weight loss around three months postpartum. But go at your own pace. And when you’re ready, always choose a gradual, sustainable approach.
For many women, drastic, sudden weight loss in postpartum is unrealistic – not to mention potentially harmful. Losing weight too quickly after giving birth can reduce the quantity of milk you produce, affect the nutritional profile of your breastmilk, and leave you with less energy when you need it the most.
With this in mind, set yourself achievable goals. Losing around a pound and a half each week is a safe and sensible target.
Avoid crash diets
Speaking of realistic ways to lose weight after giving birth, crash diets aren’t the answer. Not only do they risk depriving you of valuable nutrients postpartum – especially if you’re breastfeeding – they’re unsustainable and often lead to more weight gain.
Instead, consider following a whole food, plant-focused, Mediterranean-style diet – naturally packed with protein, fibre, antioxidants and healthy fats to support you after birth.
The balanced eating pattern includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil, moderate amounts of oily fish, dairy, and poultry, and a small amount of red meat.
Reduce ultra-processed foods
Though it’s tempting to reach for ultra-processed snacks when you’re tired and need a quick boost, these foods are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat, which can make it harder to lose weight.
If you’re looking for something balanced and nutritionally dense, choose nuts, dried fruit, homemade popcorn, edamame beans, Greek yoghurt, hard-boiled eggs, or crudites and hummus instead.
Of course, don’t beat yourself up if you indulge in the occasional treat. We’re only human!
Sneak more sleep in
We hear you: a solid eight hours of sleep is a rarity with a newborn. However, sleep deprivation can affect your food choices, hunger hormones, and metabolism. Without enough sleep, you’ll crave nutritionally-poor, sugar-loaded foods, undermining your weight loss efforts.
Try napping when your baby sleeps, ask family, friends, and neighbours for extra support, and prioritise sleep over household chores (rest is more important at the moment!).
Don’t rush into exercise
Exercising too intensely after giving labour can be taxing on the body. If you had a C-section, you should wait a few weeks until working out. But if you had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, you can probably get away with some gentle aerobic exercise a few days after delivery, granted you feel up to it.
Always start with gentle movement, paying close attention to how your body feels. Eventually, you can build up to 30 minutes of movement five days a week. You could even do two 15-minute sessions if that’s more manageable.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine after giving birth. Even small bursts of walking can support energy levels, relieve stress, improve sleep, and encourage weight loss.
You can swim and practice yoga 6-8 weeks after birth and perform higher impact activities, like jogging and aerobics, after 3-6 months.
Breastfeed if you can
Breastfeeding makes your body expend around 300-500 calories each day, which can help new mums lose weight. So, if you can breastfeed, do.
Of course, some women struggle with this – and that’s absolutely fine. Exercising regularly and following a healthy diet will still support your weight loss efforts.
Enlist your partner
Lifestyle changes are always easier when you commit to making them with someone else. Try to enlist the support of your partner: take walks together, remove unhealthy foods from the house, and cook nutritionally balanced meals.
Let go of comparison
Every woman is different. And every woman will look different after giving birth. For some, weight loss might come a little easier. For others, it can be slower. Both are fine! As long as you’re eating nutritionally dense, healthy meals and moving your body regularly, you’ll get to the place you want.
Avoid comparing yourself to the celebrities in magazines. Honour your needs and those of your baby, and weight loss will happen in its own time.
Take a bespoke multivitamin
Taking a bespoke multivitamin will ensure all of your nutritional bases are covered as you enter postpartum and start considering weight loss. Choose a formula with relevant amounts of iron to replenish stores lost in childbirth, vitamin B12 to reduce tiredness and fatigue, choline to support infant memory and brain development, and vitamin D3 for bone health and immunity.
Find out more
If you found this article on losing weight after pregnancy useful, you can find similar guidance on our health blog. Alternatively, please get in touch with our team of expert Nutrition Advisors, who are on hand to provide free, confidential advice