Total weight gain during 2nd pregnancy: 38 lbs
Weight loss 24 hours after giving birth: 12 lbs (26 lbs left to lose)
Weight loss 4 weeks after giving birth: additional 5.2 lbs (20.8 lbs left to lose)
Weight loss 8 weeks after giving birth: additional 12 lbs (8.8 lbs left to lose)
Since I started blogging, I’ve shared quite a bit of information on my pregnancies, creating balance, practicing self love and self care. Interestingly, I’ve avoided sharing my personal journey on post partum weight loss.
And there are 5 reasons for that:
i. I’m NOT a fitness expert or professional. If you need to speak to a fitness expert, contact @shreddergang
ii. I don’t encourage comparison; we are all different; different physiques, different sizes, and even different metabolic rates.
iii. I have never seen my post partum weight loss as “inspiring”, because I’ve never been significantly underweight or overweight. I’m just a regular girl who’s gained some weight, lost some weight, ate poorly, ate healthy, hated workout routines, enjoyed an exercise regimen, etc.
iv. I NEVER want to appear as though I have it all figured out. Because I don’t.
v. Lastly, and since I’m being honest, genetics has definitely played a (perhaps major) role in my post partum weight loss. So keep the reality of my situation and the reality of your situation in mind, we may be starting from different places; please avoid the temptation to compare tangerines to mangoes.
But ultimately, people have continually asked to hear my own journey; and having lost 25 – 30 lbs of “baby weight” within 8 weeks (after both pregnancies), I think I’m allowed a little “bragging right” on this topic lol.
So, in no particular order, here are my 9 practical tips that helped me with post partum weight loss:
1. Go easy on yourself and set realistic goals
Just like it took months to gain the weight, it can take months to lose it.
I mean, there’s a lot happening—your body is trying to replenish itself after pregnancy, labor, delivery, and (may be) breastfeeding. It’s a lot to get used to, so try not to focus on the weight you’ve gained. Instead, keep your expectations in check and remind yourself that you have created a fabulous human being who adores you — all of you…squishy soft tummy and all.
It’s tempting to set unrealistic goals and then get frustrated when we aren’t where we “should” be. I remember when I had my first baby and I was shocked to see I only lost 12lbs (out of 40lbs) post delivery and still looked (at least) 4 months pregnant for the first few weeks after.
I was so eager to lose all 40lbs of extra weight I had gained (and I later did), but with my second pregnancy, I made sure I set realistic goals on how and when to lose the weight post partum and I’ve decided to be very patient with myself, one healthy step at a time.
Simply put, breast-feeding burns calories — the body requires extra energy to make milk.
There’s no denying that (exclusively) breastfeeding my LO helped me in a big way; even though – as a (full-time) working mom, it was a challenging time commitment. But I’m so, so glad I stuck with it. It’s a blessing for both CJ and I – plus it burns (an extra 300-500?) calories per day.
I know not every woman can / wants to breastfeed (no judgement here), but if you can and have decided to, I encourage you to stick with it as long as you can. It may help!
However, when I was exclusively breastfeeding I discovered I was hungry all the time and would end up snacking on cookies, candy bars, sodas and other unhealthy ‘quick calories’ — thereby consuming more calories and countering the 500 calories I was burning by breastfeeding. So I cut my sugar intake and swapped my flour / sugar based snacks for fruits and veggies.
If you do breastfeed, try not to use it as an excuse to eat whatever you want. Also, it’s possible to gain some weight if / when you stop nursing. Once I started weaning CJ, I gained 3 pounds instantly in a few weeks.
But to reassure women who are not able to breast-feed, or choose not to; breast-feeding is not essential for post partum weight loss. Yes, breastfeeding burns calories, but it does not guarantee weight loss.
3. Start slow – Walking, power walking, (maybe) running
Exercise does the body good; just make sure you’ve gotten the green light from your OB/GYN before starting (or resuming) your exercise routine.
I started walking as soon as I felt comfortable – 4 weeks PP. At first, more often than not, I would choose a nap over a walk, but I came to learn that the hardest part was getting started and when I was done it was always worth it. The walks gradually got longer and faster as time went on. More importantly getting outside every day helped to boost my mood and ease my body back into shape.
Whether you’re on a walk trail or a treadmill, walking can safely help tone muscles and improve your mood. So even if you don’t have the time or energy to start a full-blown workout schedule, you can begin with short 10 to 20 minute walks. Walking is easy and equipment-free, and you can do it with baby in tow; because even pushing your baby in a stroller gets you out and moving.
4. (I) use(d) a tummy wrap
Emphasis on “I”, because this is debatable.
By my culture (and perhaps many others) women have been wrapping the belly following pregnancy for hundreds of years. Traditional wrapping practices would usually involve long cotton cloth wrapped around the midsection following birth. As the new mother shrinks, the cloth is shortened and tightened.
Personally, I swear by tummy wrapping. I did it after my first pregnancy and the wrapping band I used was fantastic! It shrunk my uterus and waistline in a matter of weeks and helped me maintain a good posture for breastfeeding.
Having birthed by a C-Section this time around, I couldn’t use the same brand and type of belly wrap I used after my first child birth (which was by vaginal delivery). Using a (Dr recommended) belly wrap for me this time was more for back support and posture.
Again, this may be personal to me. A lot of women don’t use belly wraps and still have amazing post partum physiques.
5. Eating whole, nutritious foods.
Instead of dieting, and considering I was exclusively breastfeeding, I decided to eat a well-balanced variety of foods. I did not deprive myself, I did not count calories, but I restricted my portion sizes, eliminated refined carbohydrates, had dinner not later than 6pm and focused on filling my body with as many nutritious foods as possible, snacking regularly (on apple slices, carrot sticks, and wheat crackers) and drinking lots of water.
I realized that keeping different healthy snack options in the house kept me from feeling hungry and gave me energy throughout the day.
It’s not advisable to crash diet post partum, especially if you are breastfeeding because your body ends up producing less milk.
6. Weight gain during pregnancy vs. post partum weight retention
To keep weight gain within a healthy range, do not “eat for 2”; the fact is that the more weight you gain during pregnancy, the longer it may take to lose. However, if you are pregnant, please don’t beat yourself up for deviating from some days of healthy eating. Pregnancy can be stressful, and focusing so much on your weight can be nerve-racking.
Prior to getting pregnant, I was in great shape, and (if you follow me on snap chat @oby_o you would know that) I worked out 4 times a week during my pregnancy.
P.S: I got the weirdest stares and comments at the gym especially by my 3rd trimester!
Ask your OB/GYN to calculate your Body Mass Index to determine how much weight gain is advisable during your pregnancy; based on your size.
7. Look out for diastisis recti:
Even if you’ve reached your pre-pregnancy weight, chances are your stomach is still sporting a post-pregnancy pooch. Don’t ignore it!
This could be caused by a very common pregnancy condition known as diastasis recti, it’s a gap in your abdominal muscles caused by the expansion of your abdomen during pregnancy. It can take a month or two after delivery for this gap to close, so make sure you don’t have diastasis recti before you start tummy exercises that place stress on the mid line / stretch / overly expand the abdominal wall or you’ll worsen the gap or even risk an injury.
Ask your OB/GYN to check if you have diastasis recti, and seek advice / recommendations of the exercises you can and cannot do – especially if you’re still in recovery after a C-section. It’s easy to perform a self-test for diastasis recti: just lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put one hand on your belly, with your fingers on your mid line at your navel. Press your fingertips down gently, and bring your head (shoulders stay on the ground) up into a mini crunch-like position; making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis. Move your fingertips back and forth across your mid line, feeling for the right and left sides of your abdominal muscle. A gap of more than 2 1/2 finger-widths is a sign of diastasis recti – please check with your OB/GYN and carry out your own research.
With my first pregnancy I didn’t have diastasis recti so I was quite surprised when by my 6 weeks check up (after the birth of my 2nd son – CJ) my OB/GYN informed me that I had diastasis recti – with a 4 fingers width gap. She recommended a post partum exercise routine which I’m now doing to help the separation heal.
Currently, my gap is 2 fingers wide – which isn’t so bad. Once it closes up, I’ll get the go-ahead from my OB/GYN to start intense abs workout to strengthen my abs.
8. “Getting slim without the gym”
If you follow me on snapchat – @oby_o, you probably know I have a personal trainer – “Francis” who is perhaps one of the most diligent personal trainers in the history of personal trainers’ lol! I have scheduled my lifestyle to accommodate a 60-90 minutes session at the gym 4 days a week (after working hours).
However, there are some days (and even weeks, depending on my work /travel schedule) when going to the gym is simply not an option, and quite frankly a lot of new moms don’t have the time to spend 90 minutes at the gym.
The good news is that you can still get fit in the comfort of your home. Your goal should be to do SOMETHING.
Understandably, you may not have time because of caring for your baby; if so, then join your LO in on the fun too. You can hold your baby and do squats and stationary lunges for your lower body, then grab some dumbbells for weight training – to strengthen your arms and shoulders.
9. LIFT WEIGHTS!
Speaking of weight training . . . if you’re ready to get your pre-pregnancy physique, cardio alone may not cut it. This is the one of the most often missed secret in postpartum weight loss – BUT YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY SPEAK TO YOUR OB/GYN ABOUT THIS FIRST.
Pre-child birth, my fitness routine largely involved cardio – walking, running and using the treadmill.
Now my postpartum training plan incorporates a balance of activities including walks, aerobics, some HIIT, plenty of stretching, glutes workout, proper core rehabilitation (especially important since I still have diastasis recti), and also weight training.
Cardio exercises helped me shed the pounds, but I still do strength training 2 times a week to boost my metabolism – apparently this helps burn fat long after my workout is over and goes a long way toward toning my body.
If you’re a new mom in the process of finding your body again, I hope these tips help you reach you goal weight / size in a healthy, reasonable amount of time; because in the end, being healthy is what’s best for you and your baby.
I encourage you to take your time. Your body will be different and you will have to get re-acquainted with it. It is not ruined, it’s just in transition.
Currently, I’m 2 sizes up and weigh 11 lbs more than I weighed before I started having kids, and guess what? I’m totally fine with it and I can honestly say I feel more confident and appreciate my body more than I did when I was 21.
Let’s talk about it, what helped you during your postpartum weight loss? What tips and tricks have you tried? Are you comfortable in your new post partum physique or do you still have a goal weight / size? We don’t have to be fitness experts to share stories, swap ideas and support one another, right?!