Celebrating Your Postpartum Body

You, your body, and your baby are amazing! Your body just gave birth to a new human being! That is an amazing feat. Although social media and society may try to tell you that you should be wearing a bikini or be back in your pre-baby shape minutes after delivery, this is not realistic (nor even safe or possible). It takes several weeks for your uterus to shrink to its pre-pregnancy size after delivery. The fat that you gained during the 9 months of pregnancy will take time to lose. Your weight journey is about you and your health: mind, body, and spirit. Also, some moms who breastfeed expect for weight loss to occur easily since your body burns extra calories as a lactating mom than moms who do not lactate. However, the research is inconclusive as to whether moms who breastfeed lose more weight and the speed at which they lose weight, compared to moms who do not breastfeed. Moms who breastfeed have changes in hormone levels, including prolactin, that may alter your appetite and metabolism. You are an individual, your weight trajectory is individual, and we want to honor your healthy weight journey, with some suggestions to support you along the way.

  1. Love your body now!
    • Your body deserves to be honored and respected for what it just accomplished with the birth of your baby. You shouldn’t expect your body to return immediately to its pre-baby state. Love your body how it is now! Practice self-acceptance. Life is too short to live in a body that you don’t celebrate.
    • Consider looking in a mirror this week and talking to yourself in a caring and kind voice, praising yourself and your body for what it has accomplished during pregnancy and delivery, and what it is doing now as a new parent. An interesting article related to this topic in the New York Times has some other suggestions for helping you to love your postpartum body.

  2. It’s a lifestyle, not a diet.
    • The 70 billion dollar per year weight loss industry is eager to tell you what you should eat, what pill to take, or the latest diet craze to follow. However, if you go “on” a diet, you will someday go “off” a diet. Most diets fail, with weight regain often exceeding what was lost. We encourage you to think about approaching being a healthy weight from a lifestyle perspective. Make changes to your eating and physical activity that you want to (and can) practice for a lifetime. You want a plan that is sustainable for now and for years to come.
    • Make a list of what changes you want to make to your nutrition and physical activity plans over the next few months. Then consider whether these are short-term changes (a “diet”) or if these are healthy changes for a lifetime (a lifestyle). For more information on setting goals, visit the MD Anderson website on goal setting for nutrition.

  3. Find others to partner with you.
    • You are more likely to be successful with obtaining a healthy postpartum weight if you don’t try to go it alone. Consider asking your partner, a friend, or family member to join you on moving toward a healthy weight. Talking to your CNM/OB about your weight loss goals and struggles is recommended too. They may refer you to a dietitian, a physical therapist, a wellness coach or other source of support. Don’t try to do this alone.
    • You can also consider joining a group of other women who have recently given birth, who are working on healthy eating and physical activity too. Diana has groups such as this that you can join for support and expertise.

  4. Align your healthy weight goal with your purpose.
    • Consider how achieving a healthy weight aligns with your life’s purpose. Do you want your family to have a healthy relationship with food? Do you want your family to enjoy nourishing family meals with your partner and child(ren) for years to come? Does being a healthier weight mean that you will have more energy to be active with your kids (and someday even grandkids)? Maybe being a healthier weight will increase your likelihood of being healthier physically and mentally.
    • This week, write down how your weight loss journey aligns with your purpose. If you can align your weight goals with your overall purpose, this will support your success too.

  5. It’s about progress, not perfection.
    • Your body likely has stretch marks, extra fat, and other changes that happened during pregnancy. This is normal. You likely gained a significant amount of extra weight during your pregnancy. Some of this weight is lost immediately (often 12-15 pounds), with the weight loss from the baby, amniotic fluid, and placenta. You’ll also likely lose some additional weight the first 1-2 weeks after delivery from shifts in fluid. The additional fat that you likely gained during pregnancy will take time to lose. Focus on progress and not perfection. Aim to lose not more than 1-2 pounds per week. Don’t focus on meeting others’ expectations.
    • Think about what progress and not perfection means to you when considering your postpartum weight journey. For more information on this topic, visit the Mayo Clinic’s webpage on postpartum weight loss.

  6. Nourish your body.
    • Think about how you can nourish your body with what you eat, as you work to achieve a healthy postpartum weight. Consider eating more plants, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and less processed junk food. Listen to what your body needs. Make sure that you have protein with meals that will sustain your energy throughout the day. Don’t try to deprive yourself of nourishment. Your postpartum body needs to replenish some of its nutrient stores that were depleted during pregnancy. Also, if you are breastfeeding, it’s especially important to stay well nourished during this time as breastfeeding requires additional energy and nutrients. You and your baby deserve nourishment.
    • List 10 ways that you will try to nourish yourself during the upcoming month. Think of ways to nourish yourself that go beyond food. Also, visit this website on healthy eating while breastfeeding.

  7. Move more and sit less.
    • Your CNM/OB will let you know when it is safe and recommended to resume your pre-delivery physical activity regimen or when you can start a new exercise program. Talk to them as clearance for exercise vaires based upon the type of delivery that you had. Try to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week and add in some resistance exercises as well at least twice a week, as long as this is approved by your health care practitioner. Also, try to decrease your sedentary time. If you’ve been sitting for 60 minutes, make sure you get up and move (every 30 minutes if you’re diabetic).
    • Think of how you will remind yourself to move more and be less sedentary this next month (consider setting reminders on your smartphone, watch, or Amazon Alexa). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has more information on this topic on their website.

  8. Decrease stress and prioritize sleep.
    • Your appetite increases, especially for foods high in added sugars and fats, when you are stress and sleep deprived. Be mindful when you eat. Slow down and savor your food. Try to sit down and not eat “on the go” or when distracted by television or devices such as your phone or computer. Many women find it harder to eat nourishing foods when they are very stressed. Do what you can to manage your stress in healthy ways. Also, prioritize sleep. Although this can be a challenge with a new baby, consider asking your partner, or trusted family or friends to help out.
    • This week, practice eating at least one meal mindfully and think about how it impacted your stress. If you’re struggling with postpartum insomnia and want to learn more, visit this website.
  9. Make a plan.
    • Consider what has worked in the past when you’ve tried to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. If it was a healthy way to lose weight, consider doing this again. Also, try to meal prep and plan as it is easier to eat healthier when you plan in advance. Have healthy snacks readily available. Also, consider having some items to quickly heat up that are healthy, for when you don’t have time to cook. You don’t need to cook elaborate meals to eat healthy. Look for healthy substitutions and options. You may even want to have a meal delivery service if finances allow.
    • Think about how you can use planning to help you with your healthy weight journey postpartum and tell someone about it.

  10. Make it fun.
    • It is hard to stick to a healthy weight, healthy food and activity lifestyle plan if it is not fun. In order for it to truly be a new lifestyle, think of ways that it can add joy and fun to your life. Can you try new ways to flavor water with fruit? Maybe you can try some new recipes, herbs, and spices. Experiment with various healthy eating options and ways to exercise. Investigate what feels best for you and your body. It may take some time, but the results will be worth it!
    • Write about how you can add fun to your healthy weight journey.

As you work toward achieving a healthy weight after delivering your baby, keep in mind that the work that you are doing supports your health for a lifetime. Also, your child(ren) will see that you are engaging in health supporting behaviors and will hopefully engage in health promoting behaviors as well. As you are enjoying delicious and nutritious food and staying active, remember that you are doing this for yourself as well as your family. You deserve to be healthy and to take time for self-care.

If you feel like you need additional support, one of our Health and Wellness coaches would love to support you, learn more here.

By Published On: April 8, 2022Categories: Mama's Pregnancy, Mama's Whole Health

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