While it is fun to watch your belly bump grow and take pictures every week, it is not as much fun when you still have that bump postpartum. Very quickly, my goal postpartum became getting rid of the extra baby fat.
I knew I would be learning a lot about caring for baby and that I would need some recovery time post birth. I had my postpartum recovery kit. However, I had no idea losing weight was going to happen in phases and all of the other fun things of postpartum like your hair falling out and your boobs leaking like crazy.
Here are my top tips to rock your postpartum recovery along with my own experience with postpartum. Hopefully by sharing, you will avoid the mistakes I made and have a better postpartum experience.
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How to get rid of baby fat?
I gained a LOT of weight during both of my pregnancies. It wasn’t until I went through postpartum that I realized how the baby fat comes off. I eventually lost all 60+ pounds both times. I lost a lot initially but then had to be strategic to lose the rest. I breastfed, kept my postpartum diet clean and healthy by preparing my meals in bulk, and carried my baby to keep those pounds falling off. I also made sure to find postpartum clothing because if you have nothing to wear, your self-esteem will hurt your ability to enjoy baby and lose weight. Lastly, once I was over the initial recovery, I focused on doing workouts that were designed for postpartum women.
Postpartum is the 4th trimester
In your first trimester of pregnancy, you were probably sick. In the second, you felt your best and had a cute bump. In the third trimester, your bump was big, you were uncomfortable and very ready (and excited) to have baby. Once baby is born you are now in your 4th trimester, this means your body goes through a whole another set of hormonal changes. You go through your first big weight loss and you have a newborn to care for.
In order to lose weight, you need to recover from birth first. Make sure you have a postpartum care kit. Working out or eating healthy won’t help until your body has healed. To pamper yourself, add a Bumpbox on your registry or just buy it and treat yourself. Feeling good about yourself is really important as you go through this stage. Even if you don’t have postpartum depression, baby blues are really common.
Before you start considering how to get rid of your baby fat, you want to make sure that you have allowed ample time for your body to heal after having given birth. If you have had a cesarean section, then it is equally important to allow enough time, longer than the widely accepted 6 week mark. If you hurry to get back on track of losing that baby weight, you may end up causing your body more harm than good.
How much weight will I lose right away?
During those first few days at the hospital, you might only lose 12-15 lbs from the baby, placenta and amniotic fluid. However, in your third trimester your body accumulates a lot of water weight and if you were on an IV, you have even more water weight from getting lots of fluids. It takes usually a week to two weeks for postpartum for your body to remove the excess water weight.
Once I hit 3 weeks postpartum, I had lost 35 lbs, but I was only down 10 lbs when we left the hospital 2 days postpartum.
This quick loss of pounds after you gave birth is a very exciting time simply because you slowly get back to your pre pregnancy weight. However, you need to set your expectations at a reasonable level because this quick weight loss will soon plateau without having gotten rid of all of your post pregnancy weight.
What clothing should I wear postpartum?
Expect to not fit into maternity clothing or postpartum clothing when you leave the hospital. Try to get something that is comfy, cute and stretchy. My go-to is a nursing top with a cute robe-like top to wear at the hospital especially since you want to look good for pictures with baby. I went home in leggings and a nursing shirt. If you decide to buy any nursing clothing, prioritize nursing bras and nursing tank tops. You can then just invest in some comfortable shirts from Target. A nursing tank top underneath any shirt will allow you to keep your belly covered while nursing.
I really needed some clothing postpartum but didn’t have the energy or time or want to shop. I didn’t want to buy clothing because I wasn’t back to my normal weight yet. Even if my old shirts fit around my waist, they didn’t fit my new breastfeeding boobs.
My solution was to use Stitch Fix. Stitch Fix is a service that sends you clothing items hand-picked by a stylist for you. You return what you don’t want. You pay a stylist fee of $25 which goes toward your purchase. So, as long as you keep one or two items you won’t pay the stylist fee. Besides getting something in the mail (I love getting mail), I love how you can leave the stylist a note. You also fill out a lot of information about your style and size and because you can leave a note, you can specifically ask for good postpartum options. This route has never let me down.
Your first postpartum workout is your baby (I’m serious)
Newborns like to be held, rocked and nursed a lot. This is exhausting especially because they also wake up a lot. I bought a yoga ball and a newborn carrier that would grow with baby. I would bounce baby on the yoga ball with her in the carrier or would put on some music and walk/bounce her around the house. I loved how this allowed me to bond with baby and get an exercise in. Also , you will find that the constant movement of being with your baby is one of the best ways to start losing your post baby weight. As your baby gets older and is able to crawl and then eventually walk, your level of movement will only increase. This will lead to more opportunities for you to burn those post pregnancy calories. And yes, if you’re like most moms, that baby weight will stick with you long after your baby’s first birthday. I kept reminding myself that this was a great postpartum workout, which helped me fight through the exhaustion.
By simply wearing baby everywhere I went and even just on walks around the neighborhood, I lost an additional 10 lbs. Taking a walk every day with your baby will also help your mood by getting some fresh air. Even if it’s too cold, try going to the mall to walk or try a local library. Pick a day where there is story time for babies and you might also meet a mom friend.
Be careful on the types of workouts you do postpartum. Your body is recovering and therefore, you should stick to workouts designed for the postpartum body instead of going on a huge run, etc. You could end up with incontinence, or injury if you don’t let your body heal first. I will cover some awesome postpartum workouts later in this article.
Breastfeeding is Helpful to Losing the Baby Weight
Not losing weight while breastfeeding…there’s a reason
Breastfeeding is very demanding in the beginning. If you don’t nurse baby enough, you might struggle with your milk supply. If baby is awake or showing early hunger cue signs like hands in mouth, rooting, or moving head from side to side, baby wants to nurse. Nurse baby at least every two hours and you won’t have supply problems. Nursing gets easier as baby gets older, I promise. If you feel like you are doing nothing but nursing, you are doing it correctly. But also remember, nursing is literally going to melt the fat off your body once your supply is high.
My number one tip to ensuring you are nursing baby on enough (on demand)
Once baby is here, you want to nurse whenever they wake or wake them if it has been more than two hours. You want your next nursing session to start two hours after the beginning of the prior feeding. Most likely time will slip away from you because you aren’t used to nursing all day yet.
To help you, set a time for 2 hours when baby starts nursing. When it goes off, it’s time to nurse again. Do this for the first few days.
At the start of your nursing journey, it may be worthwhile to consider having a sleep in. This is when you and your baby sleep in all day long and you simply let your little one nurse. Doing so will allow your baby to get all their nutrients in. It is also a great period for your body to build up its milk supply. Letting your little one nurse without any obstruction can be a great one for you and your little one to bond without any interruptions. It is also a great way for your body to shed some of those pounds without having to do any extra work!
To get baby to latch, you should get help with during your hospital stay. Ask for help. If not, find a lactation consultant asap by talking to your pediatrician or midwife.
What happens at 3 months and what does it mean about weight?
Well for starters, your boobs will finally stop leaking like crazy. They will also be soft again even when they are full so don’t mistake this for a low supply.
Baby will increase your supply until it is established around 3 months and that is when you will start to see the scale go down again. After that initial weight loss during those first three weeks, your body will lose weight very slowly until about 3 months. Between 3-6 months is when you can expect your body to start to shed the pounds again.
After my first baby, I lost 20 pounds during 3-6 months postpartum without doing anything special besides what I mentioned above and breastfeeding my baby on demand.
Your body won’t give up the weight if you aren’t eating enough… here’s why.
Your body won’t let the pounds come off while breastfeeding if you aren’t eating enough. Your body put on those extra pounds to ensure it was able to feed baby even in a famine. If you start to reduce your calories, your body will go into saving mode. You will lose less weight and baby will get less breastmilk because your body wants to ensure it has enough.
So how do you help your body give up that weight and keep baby well fed on breastmilk? You eat a lot, but eat healthy. Your goal here is lots of hydration, fruits, veggies, protein and lots of good fats. This can be challenging though since you don’t have time to prep healthy meals with a newborn.
The best postpartum diet
I stocked up on lots of easy options. Seed and nut-based bars or oat-based bars. Seeds and nuts are a great source of healthy fat and nutrients for breastmilk. Oats also support breastmilk. Avocados are great to keep you full. I like to pair them with beans and sweet potato chips. Keep salad items on hand. Hard boil some eggs for a quick snack.
To make meals healthy, I would recommend bulk prep. You buy ingredients for 2 weeks of dinners, cut and prep the meals, place them in freezer safe ziplocks and then take one pre-made meal out the night before. These meals are crockpot meals so it simply involves putting the meal into the crockpot in the morning.
If you’ve already had your baby, get some help making crockpot freezer meals by asking some friends or your own mom to come over for a few hours on a Saturday. If you are still pregnant, do this now. You can make up to 3 months of meals in one weekend.
No idea how to start on making freezer meals? Be sure to read our guide to freezer meal prep. If you just want recipe plans with pre-done grocery lists, I use Family Freezer’s Complete Freezer Cooking Bundle.
Try to sleep in with baby by napping during their first nap of the day
Being sleep deprived is a fact of being a new mother. But being sleep deprived also means you will want to eat more and also crave unhealthy foods. You can help curb your sleep deprivation by napping. Babies usually sleep best in the mornings so feed baby and then go back to bed with baby and sleep in as much as you can. Evenings are going to be the worst due to the witching hour. You don’t want to catch up on sleep by going to bed early.
When baby wakes up, nurse them. Nursing them right away will allow them to sail back into sleep since your breastmilk is full of sleep hormones. (This is why breastfeeding will put baby to sleep). Breastfeeding also helps you to sleep because it increases sleep hormones in you too. Baby won’t be making any of their own sleep hormones until 4 months so yes breastfeed them to sleep. Once they are asleep, get your own nap in.
Skip postpartum belly binding and postpartum Spanx
Instead spend your money on an online postpartum workout. Here’s the thing, your belly bump will go down all by itself. The belly binding and the Spanx will hold your muscles and postpartum belly in but they won’t address the actual issue. Your muscles will either heal all on their own and pull back in or you need to do workouts designed specifically for the postpartum core. Therefore, use that money on a class which will not only address the muscles but will be a good workout to help you lose more weight. Working out was also imperative to me because of the feel-good hormones that are released during exercise.
I also say this from knowing so many women and reading so many blog posts on women who used belly binding and saw initial results. However, weeks later they were back at square one because the binding didn’t strengthen the core like workouts will.
I really recommend online because it’s hard to find postpartum workouts at local gyms and then you can do it whenever. I am pretty obsessed with Erica Ziel’s workout classes. She has them both for pregnancy and postpartum. Her postpartum one is specific to core rehab.
Another course that I think is well worth your time to check out is Postpartum Cure by Katie Pickett. She went through PT herself to fix her pelvic floor issues. As a Pilates instructor and a mom, her course helps with all things postpartum from breastmilk and weight loss to nutrition and pelvic floor rehab.
If you have access to a swimming pool, then one of the most powerful things you can do to help you lose that baby weight is to go swimming on a regular basis. Swimming is wonderful because it allows virtually every muscle in your body to contract. You get to work out your body from top to bottom without feeling like you are actually working out. And it’s not just swimming laps either. Bobbing around the swimming pool, stretching, or even water yoga or water zumba are grade activities to melt those pockets of fat off and work those muscles out.
And lastly, remember the saying…
While nobody wants to hear it, it took you 9 months to get to this point, give yourself 9 months to allow your body to heal, recover and return to its normal state. Along with that, you need to remember that having a baby is no easy feat. Your body changed in ways that no other natural experience will allow it to change. With that being said, you should know that your body will never really truly go back to normal. Most moms seldom them get the body back that they had before they gave birth. Instead, if you have had stretch marks during your pregnancy or a belly that grew out larger than you thought possible, then the nuances such as stretch marks and loose skin are something that you are going to have to deal with as well. While these might sound like unsightly post pregnancy facts, it is all part of the journey of what motherhood entails.
I know after only one week postpartum, I was madly searching the internet trying to find out how I could magically get my pre-pregnancy body back. I was shocked I still had so far to go. I knew that what was best for both me and my new baby was to allow my body to heal. If you follow through on the points in this post, your body will melt away that baby fat.
So, be sure to prioritize strategies that allow you to eat healthy like investing your time into freezer meal prep. Try to be active with baby such as wearing baby on walks, around the house and rocking baby. Breastfeed as often and as much as you can. Not only will you have a baby who is thriving but also is melting the pounds off you. The more often baby nurses, the better your supply will be. Nap to keep sleep deprivation at bay and try a Stitch Fix to get some cute postpartum outfits to help your self confidence. Lastly, regain your strength and pelvic floor to get rid of the left-over bump by finding a class specific for postpartum.
You got this Mama! I promise, keep at it and the pounds will melt away.
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Trina Fitzgerald is a wife, mom, and blogger. She is the co-author of the Week-by-Week Bump Smart Course, the Nesting Planner and the Breastfeeding Handbook. She attributes her success at breastfeeding her own children with working with lactation consultants in the hospital in the early stages and on a weekly basis afterwards. By writing at MomSmartNotHard, she educates mamas-to-be on all things pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Read more about Trina.