Mother holding toddler in the air

Carrying a few extra pounds after pregnancy is completely natural. Many new mothers wonder when their postpartum body will return to normal. The truth is it’s different for everyone. It’s important to remember to take your time and always put your health first, and that of your baby.


The majority of women lose around half of their baby weight in the first six weeks after birth, but again it depends on the person. It can take several months to lose any excess weight, and it’s a good idea to follow a steady, nutritional plan, and not to try to rush your body. New mothers need a lot of nutrients and energy especially during the first months of their baby’s life.


Before you begin your post-pregnancy weight loss plan, it’s advisable to speak to your doctor as well as a qualified nutritionist. A safe, healthy weight loss plan will involve balancing nutrition and consuming the right foods, with a steady exercise routine appropriate for new mothers. Always speak to a medical professional for advice, otherwise here are some general guidelines.


When is it safe to start losing weight?


Take your time before trying to lose weight after having a baby. Your body has been through a lot and needs time to recover. You should be due a postpartum checkup within approximately six weeks after birth. This will be a perfect time to have a chat with your doctor about a weight loss plan. Before then, maintain a healthy routine, but don’t make any drastic changes.


If you are breastfeeding, wait until your baby is two months old before starting to cut calories, as this will give your milk a chance to normalize. On average, you’ll need about 300 calories more a day if you’re nursing, but make sure you try to get these from healthy sources and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins.


Tips for losing weight safely


Once you’ve got through your first weeks as a new mom, and spoken to a doctor, you’ll be ready to start a weight loss plan. Remember to keep your health as your top priority. Here are some tips on how to lose weight safely


  • Don’t skip breakfast: Breakfast is important for giving you the energy to start the day, so always try to make time for breakfast in the morning, ideally when your baby has just fed, or when it’s convenient for you.


  • Get your five a day: Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Limit sweetened drinks and juices, opt for whole fruit instead.


  • Stay hydrated: Keep a bottle of water next to where you usually feed your baby, reminding you to drink plenty of water.


  • Include fiber-rich foods: Getting plenty of fiber helps reduce the risk of constipation and helps you to maintain a healthy digestive tract.


  • Slow down: Don’t rush your meals. Try to eat more mindfully. Find a meal schedule that works alongside your baby’s. Eat little and regularly but opt for healthy snacks.


  • Plan ahead: If you manage to stay organized it will save you a great deal of stress. Make a meal plan for the week and have food ready prepared for yourself as well as the baby. This way as soon as you get a chance you can take a moment to yourself and eat more comfortably.


It might sound like a tall order right now, but try to make time to eat calmly and properly. With a little planning and preparation, you can fit your healthy eating regime around your baby’s. 


How many calories are the right amount?


Counting calories is not advisable to an extent because the amount you need depends on a number of factors. People have different metabolisms due to their size, age, and genetics. The best idea is to speak to a doctor or dietician. Trust your body as well. Eat according to your normal appetite and don’t rush meals. Taking your time is the best way to control the amount you eat. 


On average, the suggested amount of calories per day for active mothers who are breastfeeding is in the realms of 2000. For those of you who aren’t nursing, as this also burns calories, aim for 1600-1800. This needs to be measured according to how active you are as well and always speak to a medical professional who knows your family history.  


Fruits and berries

Which foods are nutritious for a new mom?


Certain nutrients are important in a post-pregnancy diet. These include vitamin D and calcium for bone health. You can find these in cheese, milk, fish, and almonds. Iron is important as well which is found in beans, leafy greens, and cereals. Get plenty of vitamin C for iron absorption, which you can find in oranges, kiwis, broccoli, and other fruits. 


Avoid sugary foods and processed ready meals, and try to choose boiled or baked foods over fried. It’s best to cut down on saturated fats, trans fats, and sugar. Fill up on fiber or protein-rich foods instead, these will give you energy for longer without adding as many calories. Eat more lean meats, fish, vegetables, and whole grains. 


These are just guidelines and it depends on your preferences and dietary requirement. It’s a good idea to keep a balanced diet as much as possible. Some diet programs such as the keto diet have been suggested for weight loss.  Always seek medical advice from your provider before following any specific diet plan. 


Does breastfeeding help to lose weight?


Breastfeeding has been associated with weight loss in new mothers because it burns on average 300 calories per day. Your body will have prepared for this though, so it’s not advisable to assume that if you’re breastfeeding you can overeat. You will have fat reserves and hormonal changes to help your body keep up with providing milk for your baby. 


It’s safe to start losing weight after a couple of months into breastfeeding, as long as you do it gradually. Don’t push to lose more than a kilogram a week, and keep a balanced diet. If you’re feeling fatigued or have any problems nursing speak to your doctor or pediatrician. 


What exercise is best for a new mom?


Finding time to squeeze exercise into your busy schedule might seem pretty tricky, but it’s important. Proper nutrition needs to be combined with an active lifestyle in order to promote safe weight loss. Again, it’s important to wait until your body is ready and take it slowly at first. You could begin with go out on short walks and doing some pelvic tilts, cat cows, and other gentle exercises.


There are plenty of workout apps for new mothers with a range of exercises designed especially for you. Certain activities are more suitable after pregnancy. Many mothers get into mom and baby yoga, as the baby gets older. This is a great way to keep fit, and bond with your child. Other sports that are good for safe weight loss can include postnatal classes, walking, playing energetic games, and swimming.


Mom & toddler doing yoga


How long will it take to lose weight?


Don’t rush or overdo it if you’re trying to lose weight after pregnancy. These things take time with or without a newborn to look after. Be patient, if you follow a healthy regime based on balanced nutrition and exercise, you should see a difference, but don’t be disheartened if it takes several months. If you like, keep your doctor or dietician updated on your goals and progress. 


Remember to put your health first and stay positive. Share experiences with other new parents and help motivate each other. Why not try meeting other parents in the same boat on apps for new moms? You could go hiking or on playdates together or try out online exercise classes. 


Why is it important to lose excess weight after a baby?


For new mothers, it depends on your BMI level. If you have a higher than average BMI for you, don’t worry, this is normal. Any high levels in the obesity range could lead to problems that are typically associated with excessive weight gain. If your doctor suggests you lose weight due to the risk of certain health problems, then it’s advisable to follow a healthy routine, especially if you are thinking about having more children. 


Obesity during pregnancy can increase the risk of gestational diabetes, which is diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can be temporary during pregnancy, but there is also the risk that this could affect both the mother and baby in later life. There is also an increased risk of high blood pressure and other complications. Remember this is only in more extreme cases. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, then it’s always your decision, and should be based on medical advice.


Make sure your health and wellbeing are always your top priority. With any fitness or weight loss plan, it’s important to get some rest and focus on self-care.