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How Much Weight Does a Woman Lose After Giving Birth?

author image Candice Coleman
Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.
How Much Weight Does a Woman Lose After Giving Birth?
Mother holding her newborn in the hospital. Photo Credit XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images

Anxiety can creep in as the numbers on the scale rise during pregnancy. Labor and delivery may mean a sudden and dramatic drop in weight, while some pounds may linger for weeks or months after delivery. Moms-to-be can look at averages to get an idea of how many pounds they can expect to drop from minutes to months after giving birth.

The Weight Gain

Not all of the extra pounds a woman gains during pregnancy are because of baby alone. A woman who was of normal weight prior to getting pregnant can expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds during her pregnancy, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Only about 8 pounds of that figure is because of the baby. The placenta, additional breast tissue and amniotic fluid account for about 6 to 9 pounds, while your expanded uterus packs on between 2 and 5 pounds. The additional blood supply needed to sustain your pregnancy can also mean an extra 4 pounds. While most of this weight will taper off soon after you give birth, the 5 to 10 pounds of body fat gained during pregnancy may stick around longer.

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Shortly After Giving Birth

Immediately after giving birth, moms can expect to shed the weight of the baby, as well as some weight from blood, amniotic fluid and placenta, which may leave you around 12 pounds lighter, according to the Baby Center article, "Body Changes After Childbirth." During your first week, you may also notice that you are sweating and urinating a lot more than usual. By the end of that week, you may find yourself about 5 pounds lighter -- meaning a total loss of 17 pounds since giving birth.

Weeks After Birth

The good news is that most women will lose about half of their pregnancy weight gain by 6 weeks postpartum, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine article, "Losing Weight After Pregnancy." It may take 6 months after giving birth, or longer, to lose all of the additional weight. Some women may not lose much weight during that time, especially if they did not gain much weight during pregnancy. For these women, weight loss may pick up when a doctor gives them permission to resume exercise routines, usually at the 6-week postpartum checkup.

Additional Considerations

Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories per day, so ditching the formula may mean speedier weight loss, according to the La Leche League International article, "Weight Loss While Breastfeeding." Breastfeeding mothers who eat when hungry may lose between 1 and 1 1/2 pounds per month during the first 4 to 6 months after delivery. Eating a varied diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as getting back into an exercise routine, may also help you get back to your pre-baby weight sooner, according to The Mayo Clinic article, "Weight Loss After Pregnancy: Reclaiming Your Body."

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