Postpartum Weight Loss: Achieving Weight Loss Goals with a Healthy Mindset
I thought breastfeeding was supposed to help me lose weight! Currently, I am 9 months postpartum and still 15 pounds heavier than I am used to. I do moderate workouts a few times a week and try to eat healthy most of the time. Why is my postpartum weight loss at a standstill?
Now that you are nine months into motherhood you are likely thinking to yourself that since it took nine months to gain X number of pounds that it should take nine months to get rid of that same X number of pounds. That sounds logical but there is a caveat: your body will conserve a certain amount of body fat when you breastfeed to ensure against any possible famine that may come along. Think of it as “biology over logic”, and what baby may need over what mother may want, especially if she is looking at that number on her scale. So that does somewhat explain those stubborn last 10-15 pounds that want to stick around. And by setting that nine-month mark as your target for being back to your pre-pregnant weight you may have forgotten to factor in a few things.
The Wisdom of the Body
For starters, weight gain/weight loss during pregnancy and postpartum is very individual, as the wisdom of each mom’s body knows. “The wisdom of the body” is how well you can trust your own body to know what is best for both you and your baby. And it is interesting that as your baby will become more mobile and then even more mobile with progression from crawling to early walking to toddler walking and then running, you will become way more active during your day. You can look forward to losing some pounds right along with your baby slowing down on his weight gain as he gets more active.
Eating and Moving
I am happy to hear that you are aware of eating healthy “most of the time”. Now can be a good time to bump that up a bit. And with more outdoor time as spring approaches, your moderate workouts can become more outdoor time for both of you. Taking an hour-long brisk walk several times a week in addition to your moderate workouts can increase your metabolism.
Here are some practical things you can add to your already healthy-enough lifestyle from our daughter, Erin, whose toddler is about to turn two years old.
Achieving Your Postpartum Weight Loss Goals
This is Erin here. I have made a list of things I have learned over the past year as a mom and how I dealt with my own health goals. First, look at the issue of sleep, and then go from there.
I have a baby that needs LOTS of nighttime parenting, which of course means my sleep routine is significantly different than pre-baby. When the body lacks the recommended consecutive hours of quality sleep our metabolism does not function properly and we tend to crave more unhealthy foods.
An Attitude of Compassion/Resizing Expectations
The key puzzle piece for me was acceptance. Through total love and acceptance of my physical shape post-baby, I can be in the right mindset to make myself the healthiest I can be today. I needed to resize my expectations and accept that I do not have the time/energy/emotional space to have the same type of self-care care now that I did before baby. And that is OK
Think Quality Over Quantity Workouts
Try a short and sweet 20-minute HIIT style workout a couple of times a week. This style is proven to help your metabolism work more effectively throughout the day and burns more calories. But be sure to keep the intensity at an appropriate level! Workouts that are too intense can release more stress hormones (cortisol) from your adrenal glands, and some women notice a dip in milk supply. Also considering added restorative yoga to help calm the nervous system and help balance stress hormones.
Look around at areas of your life where you can decrease stress. I know that is easier said than done. Stress hormones cause the body to store more fat.
Celebrate Where You Are In Your Postpartum Weight Loss Journey!
You have grown, birthed, and nurtured another human for 9 months. What a miracle! If you are honoring your body with mostly healthy/nutritious choices and finding some time for movement, maybe that IS enough for this season?
Lastly, you are not alone, many women have the same thoughts and feelings about postpartum weight loss and body image. If you are still needing support around weight loss after your breastfeeding journey has come to an end, we suggest starting by seeing your doctor.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”