How Much Weight Can I Expect To Lose After My Labor?

Pregnant Hispanic woman in doorway smiling
Patience is key when shedding pounds after pregnancy. (Image: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Many women look down with horror when they step on the scales after giving birth. During pregnancy, you will gain up to 40 lbs., depending on your pre-pregnancy weight. A lot of this is shed immediately as you give birth and your body no longer needs the placenta or amniotic fluid, but you will still be heavier than you were pre-pregnancy. The weight will dissipate eventually, but you must be patient.

Weight Gained During Pregnancy

The amount of weight you put on during pregnancy depends on your normal body mass index (BMI), which is determined by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches. If this figure is below 18.5 you are underweight, and can expect to gain 28 to 40 lbs. during pregnancy, according to babycentre.co.uk. If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 you are of average weight and should gain between 25 and 35 lbs. If your BMI is 25 to 29.9 you are overweight and should gain 15 to 25 lbs. If it is more than 30 you are considered obese and should gain 11 to 20 lbs. during pregnancy. A baby typically weighs 7.5 lbs. at birth, according to midwivesonline.com. The placenta weighs 1.5 lbs. and amniotic fluid weighs 1.8 lbs. You lose these immediately. But the average woman will store around 9 lbs. of fat to give her energy for breastfeeding, the weight of her breasts will increase by about a pound, an extra 2.5 lbs of fluid will stay in her body and the volume of her blood will add 2.5 lbs. onto her weight.

Time Frame

You will be understandably keen to shed all this excess body weight, but patience is key. If you rush it, your health could suffer. It takes 40 weeks to put on all this weight, and it could take another 40 weeks to lose it in a healthy way. In the first two weeks, you will probably lose 8 to 20 lbs. as your body clears out excess fluid, and after that a pound or two a week is a healthy rate at which to lose weight.

Diet

To shed weight gained during pregnancy, the Mayo Clinic recommends eating small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones, which will help to boost your metabolism, but warns not to cut back on fruit and vegetables. These provide your body with vital nutrients and break up fatty deposits. Cut out junk food and refined carbohydrates such as white bread. Choose whole grain cereals, bread and pasta, and lean meats such as turkey, chicken and flank steak, and eat healthy snacks such as nuts, raisins and wheat crackers. Instead of soda, juice or alcohol, drink around 10 glasses of water a day. You will cut out hundreds of calories this way.

Exercise

Check with your doctor, but you should be able to begin exercise 4 to 8 weeks after pregnancy. Start with a short walk with the baby and increase the distance every day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, exercise with other new moms, or take turns while one of you looks after the babies and the other hits the gym.

Considerations

Breastfeeding burns 500 calories a day, so breastfeeding helps you lose weight quicker. It is also healthier for your baby as breast milk offers more nutrients than does formula milk.

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