The Postpartum Weight Loss Timeline [5 Tips To Get Your Body Back]

Did you just have a baby and are wondering what your postpartum weight loss timeline will look like?

Then keep reading.

In this post, you will learn:

  • How much weight you should expect to lose week by week,
  • A proven postpartum weight loss plan, and
  • What you need to know about weight loss while breastfeeding.

Are you ready?

postpartum-weight-loss-timeline

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.

Ok, moving on.

Postpartum weight loss by weeks

So let’s go over a realistic postpartum weight loss timeline.

How much weight can you expect to lose week to week after delivering your baby?

Let’s find out.

Postpartum weight loss week 0-1:

Immediately following delivery, you can expect to lose about 10-15 lbs.

This is assuming your baby was born full term, was not large for gestational age and you did not have polyhydramnios (or an increased amount of amniotic fluid).

**Of note, this is the only time that you will ever lose this much weight in such a short period of time.**

I would not recommend any traditional exercise during this week except for walking, pelvic floor exercises, and diaphragmatic breathing.

As you get more comfortable you can begin doing basic squatting variations.

Postpartum weight loss weeks 2-6:

In these next few weeks the weight loss will be slower, which is expected.

With that said, the average weight loss by 6 weeks postpartum is about half of your pregnancy weight gain, regardless of your starting BMI.

Keep in mind that this is just an average.

If you don’t lose half of your pregnancy weight gain by 6 weeks, that is okay!

Everyone experiences weight loss at a different rate and you should not compare yourself to others.

Postpartum weight loss weeks 6-12

In postpartum weeks 6-12 the weight loss will be even slower.

By now, your uterus should have returned to its pre-pregnancy size and weight.

If you haven’t lost as much weight as you would like, all hope is not lost!

To help boost your weight loss efforts, you could start adding other forms of exercise after 6 weeks. But before doing any type of exercise postpartum, you need to receive clearance from your healthcare provider.

In addition, instead of focusing on the number on the scale, I think you should focus on progress photos.

Photos are an amazing way to have real tangible progress and serves as the best way to visualize the changes that are happening.

Beyond 12 weeks

After 12 weeks, you probably wont see any further pregnancy related weight changes. At this point, your bodyweight changes will simply be a reflection of your current metabolism.

One longitudinal study found that a woman’s BMI dictated how her weight changed over the course of 12 – 24 MONTHS postpartum.

They found that women who were overweight or obese continued to lose a minimal amount of weight on average up to 2 years.

However, women who fell into the Stage II and Stage III obesity category, actually gained weight from 12-24 months postpartum.

The good news is: there is plenty that you can do to take control of your body.

Let me show you how.

Postpartum weight loss chart

This postpartum weight loss chart depicts the 5 most important factors that will contribute to your weight loss in the postpartum period.

As you can see, some factors are more important than others, but the chart isn’t complete without all of these things.

Let’s go over them one by one.

5 Things To Help Expedite Your Postpartum Weight Loss Timeline

The 5 most important factors to maximize your postpartum weight loss are:

  1. Your postpartum nutrition
  2. Postpartum physical activity
  3. Achieving adequate levels of hydration
  4. Restoration
  5. Stress control

Let’s cover them in more detail.

Your Postpartum Nutrition Plan

Nutrition is the most important aspect when it comes to weight loss.

As you can see from the chart, your nutrition contributes to at least 40% of your weight loss.

The question is, what should you eat?

The best postpartum diet is one that is varied and contains sufficient quantities of all three macronutrients.

The three macronutrients are:

  • Carbohydrates,
  • Protein, and
  • Fat

To maximize your nutrition, you don’t actually have to “diet.”

In fact, the word diet is often counter-productive because it often brings words into your mind like ‘restriction’ and ‘sacrifice.’

The good news is, you don’t need to do any of these things postpartum.

All you need to do is create yourself a sustainable and realistic nutrition plan that is centered around real, nutrient-rich, whole foods.

I have an entire post on how to create a postpartum nutrition plan for yourself which you can check out here.

Or,

You can follow the proven postpartum weight loss plan I put together.

Check it out below!

Postpartum Physical Activity

Exercise is one of the best things you could do for your body both in the antepartum and postpartum periods.

Not only does exercise help you lose weight by burning calories, but it can:

  • put you in a better mood due to the release of endorphins,
  • help you to become stronger, and
  • improve your cardiovascular endurance

just to name a few of the benefits.

With that said, exercise is a smaller piece of the weight loss equation. Exercising without improving your nutrition will not yield optimal results.

The good news is:

I have a ton of postpartum exercise articles that you could find below categorized by topic.

Postpartum Cardio

Postpartum Strength Training

Lower Body Strength Training

Upper Body Strength Training

Core Training

This leads me to the next point – as it is always important to stay hydrated as you are exercising.

Here’s how to tell if you are drinking enough water.

Achieving Adequate Levels of Hydration Postpartum

Water is extremely important in the postpartum period, especially if you are breastfeeding.

It is necessary for just about every metabolic process to occur in your body, and it can actually help you lose weight.

The good news is:

It’s super easy to add water into your daily routine.

All you have to do is drink a tall glass of water before each meal.

This will help:

  • fill up your stomach to decrease hunger cues,
  • help you burn calories (via water-induced thermogenesis), and
  • decrease the chances of you over drinking high-calorie liquids.

So how much water should you drink?

Don’t focus on the number of ounces you are drinking, but rather focus on the color of your urine throughout the day.

postpartum-hydration

This is the best measure of hydration levels in your body.

Your urine should be a pale yellow color.

If your urine is a dark yellow color, you need to drink more water.

If there is no color to your urine and it is clear, slow down on your water consumption.

Postpartum Restoration

One forgotten factor in postpartum weight loss is sleep and restoration.

Sleep is so important for a healthy metabolism, and it’s obviously something many mothers are deprived of.

Are you aware that sleep deprivation can increase your risk of weight gain?

Several studies have shown a clear link between sleep loss and obesity and other metabolic abnormalities.

This makes sense.

When you are awake, your body is in a catabolic state, constantly burning energy, and often entering “fight or flight” states, which is when your body releases high levels of cortisol.

Your body interprets sleep deprivation as another form of “fight or flight” keeping cortisol high while increasing the production of glucose and storage of fat.

I know it’s hard.

But you must do your best to get some rest.

Try napping whenever your baby is asleep.

You could also divide the night into shifts with your partner so that you could sleep for a few hours uninterrupted.

You could even ask your family and other loved ones for help once in a while.

Stress Control

Last but not least, stress is another factor you must pay attention to for weight loss.

Stress is certainly a contributor to weight gain, and studies have found links between high stress, altered dietary patterns, and obesity.

This is because high-stress levels promote the production of cortisol which is known as the stress hormone.

This has actually been proven in studies to inhibit weight loss by increasing your food cravings.

We both know that the postpartum period is one of very high stress.

That is why it is so important to pay attention to what you are eating when you are stressed out, and to find ways to help manage your stress.

This is another reason why postpartum exercise is so beneficial!

Also, instead of going for those highly processed sugary snacks, try one of these healthy postpartum snacks.

Okay so how do we put this all together?

Other Related Questions

What should I do If I experience a postpartum weight loss plateau?

Everyone will experience a plateau in postpartum weight loss.

This is because our body is so good at adapting to change.

When you start a new routine (like a new diet plan or a new workout program), your body gets exposed to something different and has to change to meet the needs of the stimulus.

It’s like anything in life. Eventually your body will get used to whatever it is you are doing.

The same is true for weight loss. You cannot expect your body to keep adapting if the stimulus never changes.

To overcome any plateau, you must provide your body with a new stimulus.

You can do this by changing up your exercise regimen to burn more calories, or make a change in your current nutrition intake.

That is why it is so important to not go “all out” right from the beginning.

It is best to allow your body to make changes gradually.

And this is exactly why I created the Postpartum Trainer’s Nutrition Plan. Every few weeks your body is provided with a new stimulus that it must adapt to.

This is what will give you long lasting results.

The relationship between breastfeeding and weight loss

Another important thing to consider is that you can lose weight while breastfeeding.

It just needs to be done the correct way, so that your milk supply is not affected.

Interestingly, many women will notice weight loss just from breastfeeding alone, without doing anything else.

The reason is because breastfeeding burns calories!

Anywhere from 300-500 calories per day depending on how often and for how long you are breastfeeding.

breastfeeding-and-weight-loss

Not only does breastfeeding burn calories, but it also helps to contract your uterus.

The contractions that occur in the uterus, postpartum, help the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size faster.

If you would like to learn more on breastfeeding and weight loss, I have created an entire article discussing 7 tips you should do to lose weight while breastfeeding, and I even have created The Definitive Breastfeeding Meal Plan which outlines the foods you should and should not be eating for maximal weight loss.

In addition, my Postpartum Trainer’s Nutrition Guide discusses how to lose fat without affecting your milk supply in one of the free bonuses: The Scientific Guide on Weight Loss and Milk Supply.

Final Words on Postpartum Weight Loss Timeline

Weight loss in the postpartum period requires a multifaceted approach of eating the right foods, strength training to increase your lean muscle mass, hydrating your body, reducing the amount of stress you have, and getting quality sleep.

Every one is different and will experience weight loss at a different rate.

You must be patient and you must give your body the time it needs to heal before introducing the stress of weight loss.

Now I want to hear from you.

What was your strategy for postpartum weight loss?

Comment below and let me know.


Get Started With A Free Postpartum Workout Plan To Rebuild Your Pelvic Floor, Heal Your Mommy Tummy, & Tone Your Arms & Legs!

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brittany-robles

Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany N Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.

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