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How Can I Lose Weight Naturally After Pregnancy?

Childbirth is the culmination of months of getting your body tuned for your little one's needs. While ygaining weight is normal, you should be mindful of how much weight gain is normal and how much you lose during childbirth. While the body sheds the added kgs naturally, knowing when and what steps to take can help support your body needs. A well balanced diet, moderate physical activity, and caring for your mental health can help you handle the postpartum recovery process.

post pregnancy weight loss
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Most new moms are excited about putting away their maternity clothes. Here’s the low down on post pregnancy weight loss – from how to do it, to how quickly you can lose those extra pounds.

How Much Weight Gain Is Normal During Pregnancy?

It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy. The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends that if you were:

  • Underweight before pregnancy (ie, BMI less than 18.5): you should gain between 12.5 to 18 kilograms during pregnancy.
  • Normal weight before pregnancy (ie, BMI between 18.5 and 24.9): you should gain between 11.5 to 16 kilograms during pregnancy.
  • Overweight before pregnancy (ie, BMI between 25 and 29.9): you should gain between 7 to 11.5 kilograms during pregnancy.
  • Obese before pregnancy (ie, BMI greater than 30): you should gain between 5 to 9 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy.[1]InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Pregnancy and birth: Weight gain in pregnancy. 2009 Jun 17 [Updated 2018 Mar 22].

When Will My Body Return To Pre-Pregnancy Weight?

It is typical to lose around 5.9 kilograms during delivery. This includes the weight of the amniotic fluid and placenta, as well as the weight of the baby. In the first week after delivery, you’ll lose more weight as you lose retained fluids. But, the extra fat stored during your pregnancy will not go away on its own. Through diet and regular exercise, you might lose between 0.5 to 0.68 kilograms a week. Therefore, it could take between 6 months to a year to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Be gentle with your body as you recover from childbirth and adapt to the changes it brings.[2][Weight loss after pregnancy: Reclaiming your body](https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/weight-loss-after-pregnancy/art-20047813 “Weight loss after pregnancy: … Continue reading

When Should You Start Trying To Lose Weight After Pregnancy?

You need time to physically recover from childbirth. If you lose weight too quickly after delivery it can lengthen your recovery time. Wait till your 6 week check up before you try to lose your pregnancy weight. In case you are breastfeeding, wait till your baby is 2 months old and your milk supply has stabilized before you try to cut calories from your diet.[3][Losing weight after pregnancy](https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000586.htm “Losing weight after pregnancy”). U.S. National Library of Medicine.

How Much Weight Can You Expect To Lose In A Week?

Aim to lose between 0.5 to 0.68 kilograms in a week. You can achieve this goal by having a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity or exercise. Do keep in mind that if your baby is having only your milk, you’ll need 500 calories more every day than you used to consume before you were pregnant. Also keep in mind that you’ll want to lose weight slowly if you’re breastfeeding. Sudden weight loss can lessen milk production. But losing around 0.68 kilograms a week should not adversely affect your health or milk production.[4][Losing weight after pregnancy](https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000586.htm “Losing weight after pregnancy”). U.S. National Library of Medicine.

How To Lose Weight After Pregnancy

You can lose weight by having a healthy diet and incorporating physical activity into your day.

1. Adopt A Healthy Diet

A healthy diet includes:

  • A minimum of 5 portions of a variety of vegetables and fruits a day.
  • Starchy foods, such as rice, potatoes, wholemeal bread, pasta, etc.
  • Foods high in fiber such as wholemeal bread, pulses, breakfast cereals etc.
  • Protein rich foods such as chicken, lean meat, eggs, fish, nuts, soya foods, seeds, pulses etc.
  • Dairy foods, like cheese, milk, and yoghurt. You can also have non-dairy sources of calcium such as pulses.
  • Making sure you drink sufficient fluids. Sip on a drink when you breastfeed. Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk as well as water are good choices.[5][Breastfeeding and diet](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding-and-lifestyle/diet/ “Breastfeeding and diet”).NHS,UK.
  • According to Ayurveda, having apathya aahaara (unwholesome food) after delivery disturbs the jatharagini (digestive fire) and results in ama (toxins). Therefore, foods that support digestion, restoration, as well as lactation are advised during this period. These are foods which have ushna (hot), snigdha (unctuous), madhur (sweet), katu (pungent), lavana (salty) rasas. In the days following delivery, Ayurvedic doctors may also recommend medicinal formulations, medicated yavagu (gruels with rice as the main ingredient), as well as medicated mansa rasas (meat soups). The addition of small amounts of ghee in the diet is also recommended.[6]Anjana Pathak, Lajwanti Keswani, Salil Jain, Nitin Ujjaliya. “HOLISTIC INTERPRETATION OF POSTNATAL CARE WITH DIET IN AYURVEDA”. IAMJ: Volume 8, Issue 1, January – 2020 (www.iamj.in) Page … Continue reading [7]Singh, Jai Kumar, Pooja Nanda, and Satya Manav Dayal. “CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF PATHYA WSR YAVAGU KALPANA.”

Note: Foods like tofu, soya and pasta are not recommended in ayurveda as they are heavy and hard to digest. They also cause vata dosha to increase. So, remember this, when trying these foods. Listen to your body and eliminate these to items to see if that heaviness or bloating eases.

Follow these dietary tips to lose weight safely:

  • Don’t skip meals. With a newborn to care for it can be tempting to skip a meal or two. But this will leave you with less energy rather than help you lose weight. And remember to eat breakfast even if you weren’t in the habit of doing so earlier. It will provide much needed energy to your mornings.
  • Have 5 – 6 small meals throughout the day rather than 3 large meals. You can also nosh on healthy snacks in between. Go for foods that contain fiber and protein as snacks. Some good choices include apples and peanut butter, raw carrot or bell pepper with bean dip or whole wheat toast and hard boiled egg.
  • Have a minimum of 12 cups of fluid in a day. But limit drinks with added sugar such as sodas or juices. Those calories can add up and sabotage your weight loss efforts. Also steer clear of artificial sweeteners.
  • Opt for whole fruit rather than fruit juice. Fruit juices can add quite a few calories. But whole fruits contain more fiber which makes you feel fuller with less calories.
  • Try baked or broiled foods instead of fried foods.
  • Watch sugar intake. Limit the amount of sugar, sweets, trans fat, and saturated fat you consume.
  • Eat mindfully. When you slow down and eat with awareness you will notice when you feel full and be less likely to overeat.[8][Losing weight after pregnancy](https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000586.htm “Losing weight after pregnancy”). U.S. National Library of Medicine.

2. Engage In Low-Intensity Physical Activity

Regular physical activity can make you feel more energetic, keep you fit, and even relax you. It can help your body recover from childbirth and ward off postnatal depression too.

When Can You Start Exercising After Delivery?

If you have had a normal delivery, you can try gentle exercises as soon as you feel strong enough. This includes gentle stretches, pelvic exercises, walking, etc. It’s considered best to wait till your 6 week postnatal check to start high impact exercises such as running or aerobics. This can vary a bit from person to person. Listen to your body and check in with your doctor.

If you’ve had a caesarean or a complicated delivery you could take longer to recover. Your doctor will be able to let you know when you can start exercising.

Follow these tips to incorporate physical activity into your day:

  • Pace yourself and start with something simple. Push your baby’s pram briskly. Keep your back straight, and your elbows bent at right angles, and you’re getting in some exercise! Playing with older children can also help you burn some calories.
  • Incorporate physical activity into your day. Take the stairs rather than the lift. And for short distances, walk instead of driving.
  • Be mindful of your posture as you go about your day. For instance, you should bend your knees, rather than bending from the waist, while picking things off the floor. This strengthens your thigh muscles and avoids damaging your back.
  • You can also try yoga and aerobic exercises as you get stronger. Experts suggest at least 15 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 to 5 days a week.[9][Keeping fit and healthy with a baby](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/support-and-services/keeping-fit-and-healthy-with-a-baby/ “Keeping fit and healthy with a baby”).NHS,UK. [10]Davies GA, Wolfe LA, Mottola MF, MacKinnon C; Society of Obstetricians and gynecologists of Canada, SOGC Clinical Practice Obstetrics Committee. Joint SOGC/CSEP clinical practice guideline: exercise … Continue reading
Precaution
  • Your abdominal and lower back muscles may be weaker than before. Your joints and ligaments are more flexible and supple for some months after delivery. Therefore, there is a higher chance of an injury if you twist or stretch too much.
  • If your postnatal bleeding (lochia) changes color or becomes heavier. Or if you feel very tired it’s likely that you’re exercising too much.[11][Keeping fit and healthy with a baby](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/support-and-services/keeping-fit-and-healthy-with-a-baby/ “Keeping fit and healthy with a baby”).NHS,UK.

3. Breastfeeding Can Help You Lose Weight

We’ve all heard of the benefits of breastfeeding – it’s the perfect food for your baby, it can protect them from certain diseases and infection, and strengthen your bond with them. But did you know that it can also help you shed those extra pounds? When you breast-feed you use calories from your diet as well as fat cells stored by your body to fuel milk production. So, you can lose weight naturally by breastfeeding.[12][Weight loss after pregnancy: Reclaiming your body](https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/weight-loss-after-pregnancy/art-20047813 “Weight loss after pregnancy: … Continue reading

4. Take Care Of Your Mental Health

Your mental health is as important as your physical wellbeing. It is estimated that around 1 out of 10 women suffer from depression in the year after giving birth. Here are a few ideas that can be helpful in boosting your mood:

  • Gentle exercise can impact not just your physical well being but also improve your mood.
  • Take time to rest. A new baby can be emotionally and physically challenging but you can turn to your partner, family members, or friends for help. Do not try to do everything by yourself.
  • Talk to your friends and family about how you feel. You can even join a postnatal group if one is available nearby.
  • If you’re struggling to cope or think that you may be depressed, speak to your doctor openly. This is not as uncommon as you may think.[13][Keeping fit and healthy with a baby](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/support-and-services/keeping-fit-and-healthy-with-a-baby/ “Keeping fit and healthy with a baby”).NHS,UK.

Ayurvedic Tips For Postnatal Care

In Ayurveda, postnatal care is termed ‘sutika paricharya’. It includes a healthy diet and the use of medicinal herbs. Some Ayurvedic tips for postnatal care include:

  • Giving ghrita or oil with powdered pippli (piper longum), pipplamula (piper longum root), chitraka (plumbago zeylanica), chavya (pipper chabula), and srengabera (gingeber officinalis) in an appropriate quantity that can be easily digested. It is worth noting that one study found that the consumption of pippalimula along with buttermilk and jaggery reduces abdominal fat in women who had given birth a year ago.[14]Neeraja, D. S. N. V., and M. Paramkusha Rao. “CLINICAL STUDY WITH KANAJATA (PIPER LONGUM LINN. ROOT) AND ITS EFFECT ON POSTNATAL ABDOMINAL BULKINESS IN WOMEN.” (2016). These herbs are considered to be ushna and tikshna ‘hot and fiery in nature’, hence do not self-medicate. Use these under medical supervision.
  • Ayurveda also recommends massaging the abdomen with ghrita or oil and then wrapping it with a soft clean cloth. This is thought to compress the abdomen and ward off an imbalance in vata dosha. It also provides support to the back and abdomen. This procedure is recommended for women who have had a normal delivery.
  • In the initial days, liquid gruel rice medicated with vidariganadi kwatha or milk in easily digestible quantities is given. Then more strengthening food such as Sali rice and meat soup may be given.
  • Mental and physical stress should be avoided.[15]Sangwan, Anju. “SUTIKA PARICHARYA-POST NATAL CARE IN AYURVEDA.” (2018).

References

References
1 InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Pregnancy and birth: Weight gain in pregnancy. 2009 Jun 17 [Updated 2018 Mar 22].
2, 12 [Weight loss after pregnancy: Reclaiming your body](https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/weight-loss-after-pregnancy/art-20047813 “Weight loss after pregnancy: Reclaiming your body”). Mayo Clinic.
3, 4, 8 [Losing weight after pregnancy](https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000586.htm “Losing weight after pregnancy”). U.S. National Library of Medicine.
5 [Breastfeeding and diet](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding-and-lifestyle/diet/ “Breastfeeding and diet”).NHS,UK.
6 Anjana Pathak, Lajwanti Keswani, Salil Jain, Nitin Ujjaliya. “HOLISTIC INTERPRETATION OF POSTNATAL CARE WITH DIET IN AYURVEDA”. IAMJ: Volume 8, Issue 1, January – 2020 (www.iamj.in) Page 2432.
7 Singh, Jai Kumar, Pooja Nanda, and Satya Manav Dayal. “CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF PATHYA WSR YAVAGU KALPANA.”
9, 11, 13 [Keeping fit and healthy with a baby](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/support-and-services/keeping-fit-and-healthy-with-a-baby/ “Keeping fit and healthy with a baby”).NHS,UK.
10 Davies GA, Wolfe LA, Mottola MF, MacKinnon C; Society of Obstetricians and gynecologists of Canada, SOGC Clinical Practice Obstetrics Committee. Joint SOGC/CSEP clinical practice guideline: exercise in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Can J Appl Physiol. 2003 Jun;28(3):330-41. PMID: 12955862.
14 Neeraja, D. S. N. V., and M. Paramkusha Rao. “CLINICAL STUDY WITH KANAJATA (PIPER LONGUM LINN. ROOT) AND ITS EFFECT ON POSTNATAL ABDOMINAL BULKINESS IN WOMEN.” (2016).
15 Sangwan, Anju. “SUTIKA PARICHARYA-POST NATAL CARE IN AYURVEDA.” (2018).

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information pertaining to your personal needs please see a qualified health practitioner.

About the Author

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Dr. Manjula P. Badiger (KAA Expert)

Dr. Manjula has 12 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda and worked as a Consultant and General Physician for over 5 years before starting her private practice. In addition to BAMS, she also has an Advanced Diploma in Clinical Research and is trained in Panchkarma. She is an expert at diagnosis of the root cause and planning effective treatment for multiple issues.

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