You could be lucky. I was - just once. When my middle daughter was born I actually weighed 10 pounds less than I had when I’d conceived her. That’s not something you can count on, though, and I can tell you that from experience as well. Most women start their lives as a new mom with an extra 8 to 15 pounds that they didn’t have pre-baby.
There’s a very good reason for that. God designed our bodies with nurture in mind. Part of that weight that you put on during pregnancy was meant to nurture your baby AFTER birth. While your body requires an extra 300 calories a day to keep up with the nutritional demands of your baby during pregnancy, a breast feeding mother requires at least 500 extra calories a day to produce enough milk and remain healthy. Your body stores up a little extra nutrition for after the birth just in case there isn’t enough food for its needs when it’s time to feed the new little critter.
If you’re breastfeeding, that’s part of the good news. You’ll automatically be burning an extra five hundred calories a day - which will make it considerably easier for you to lose the extra weight.
In fact, you may not need to do anything special at all to lose weight. Just focus on eating a normal, healthy, well-balanced diet. If you’re not breastfeeding, you won’t find it quite as easy. Your focus should still be on healthy eating, with moderate exercise to burn extra calories.
Here’s more good news for new mothers. Exercising is easier. Actually, that’s not quite right. Burning more calories is easier. Walking alone for an hour burns 200 calories. Walking while pushing a stroller ups that figure considerably. Push a stroller uphill, and it’s even higher. You’ll get extra duty out of things you never thought of like lifting the stroller and car seat in and out of the car, carrying the baby up and down stairs and just plain carrying the baby.
Still. If you find yourself with stubborn pounds that simply won’t come off, exercise and a moderate reduction in calories is the way to go. Just like pregnancy isn’t the time for weight loss, just after pregnancy isn’t the time to stress your body further with severe dietary restrictions. Aim for losing about a pound a week, though chances are you’ll find it coming off faster than that. Being a mom is a high-energy proposition!
Posted by Dani Vera
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD