Losing Weight After Pregnancy
- Posted on: Feb 13 2017
There are many issues to navigate in the first weeks and months after your baby is born such as: healing from delivery, bonding with your baby, establishing feeding routines (breastfeeding or formula feeding), managing visits from family and friends, and, for many women, securing childcare and returning to work.
It is not surprising that women often struggle with re-establishing diet and exercise routines, and at 6 months post-partum, half of all women are 11 pounds or more above their pre-pregnancy weight.
The average woman in the U.S. gains 25-30 pounds during pregnancy, of which approximately 20 pounds is pregnancy related (baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, and a whopping 4 pounds in the blood!). Fat stores increase by 6-8 pounds. The average weight loss just from delivering a baby is 13 pounds and over the next 6-8 weeks new mothers can expect to lose an additional 5-15 pounds as their uterus, fluid, and blood volumes all return to non-pregnant levels.
However, 47% of women gain more than 30 pounds during pregnancy. There is little guidance for new mothers regarding safe weight loss. Women who have worked hard to establish breastfeeding routines worry that cutting calories and exercising will decrease breast milk production.
Is dieting safe while breastfeeding?
Anecdotally, breastfeeding has been associated with weight loss. But in controlled studies comparing breastfeeding and formula-feeding mothers, there is no difference in weight loss. Additionally, calorie restriction has been shown to have little effect on breast milk production, suggesting that a healthy low calorie diet is safe for breastfeeding mothers.
What about exercise?
Women should discuss with their obstetrician when it is safe to exercise after delivery. This will depend on the type of delivery, vaginal or via c-section, and on any associated complications. Most women can safely resume exercise by 6 weeks after delivery.
Recent studies suggest that exercise alone does not result in any weight loss, and studies in new mothers are consistent with this finding. A combination of diet and exercise are shown in studies to result in the most successful weight loss and have the added benefits of increasing lean muscle mass and restoring abdominal wall and pelvic floor strength.
Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, a consultation with one of our physicians at Park Avenue Endocrinology and Nutrition will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight after pregnancy. Using basal metabolic rate testing and body composition in conjunction with estimates of breast milk production, when appropriate, allow us to set personalized recommendations for diet. Close follow-up and the addition of weight loss medications when safe and appropriate keep you moving toward your goals. When desired we can help prepare you for future healthy pregnancies.
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Posted in: Weight Loss