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Losing weight safely after birth

5-minute read

Key facts

  • After pregnancy, your body might look different.
  • If you want to lose weight after pregnancy, then breastfeeding, eating healthily, and exercising gently can help.
  • It is also possible to lose too much weight after giving birth.
  • If you have any concerns about your weight after pregnancy, you can talk to your doctor or a dietician.

After having a baby, it is normal to have gained weight. Losing this weight after pregnancy is a different experience for each person. It can be difficult to get back to a healthy weight while caring for your baby. Losing pregnancy weight by healthy eating and an active lifestyle is best.

When is it safe to start losing weight?

Before getting pregnant, losing excess weight can reduce possible risks to your pregnancy.

However, once you are pregnant, restricting your diet is not recommended since it could affect your baby. Rather than trying to lose weight, focus on gaining only the recommended amount during pregnancy. This varies based on what you weighed before pregnancy.

It is good to have a healthy diet before, during and after pregnancy.

You can start exercising gently within days of giving birth, unless you had a complicated birth or a caesarean section. If you’re unsure, it's best to check with your midwife or doctor first.

Can breastfeeding affect weight loss?

Breastfeeding is not only great for your baby, it may also help you lose weight gained during pregnancy. This is because your body uses stored fat to nourish your baby.

Some women who breastfeed their babies for at least the first few months tend to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy faster than those who do not breastfeed. This is because breastfeeding can contribute to weight loss until around 6 months after birth. The most rapid weight loss occurs in the first 3 months after you have had your baby.

How do I set realistic weight loss goals?

Reaching a healthy weight after pregnancy reduces your risks in future pregnancies as well as improving your long-term health.

If breastfeeding, losing weight rapidly might mean you don’t pass on enough nutrients to your baby. Gradual weight loss of about half a kilogram per week is okay while breastfeeding.

Crash or fad diets aren’t suitable during pregnancy or breastfeeding. They might not contain all the nutrients you and your baby need.

Your body might look different after having children. This can be frustrating. Whether you lose or gain weight, try to:

  • enjoy a healthy lifestyle
  • be proud of what your body has achieved

How can I lose weight after pregnancy?

After pregnancy, the most important thing is to take care of yourself with good food and gentle exercise.

Healthy eating after pregnancy

It’s important to eat healthily after pregnancy so that:

  • you have enough nutrients and energy to care for yourself and your child
  • if you choose to breastfeed, your baby will get all the nutrients they need

Try to enjoy a variety of fresh foods, including:

  • vegetables
  • proteins
  • whole grains

To lose weight, you can try to:

  • eat smaller portions — using a smaller plate can help
  • sit down and enjoy your meal slowly
  • choose healthy options over processed snacks if you’re hungry
  • use healthy cooking methods like steaming and grilling
  • trim fat from meats
  • do your grocery shopping in advance — don’t shop when you’re hungry

Breastfeeding and caring for a child can make you hungry. If you feel hungry, it is best to choose nutritious foods over processed foods high in fat or sugar. It is also important to drink plenty of water too.

It is also possible to lose too much weight after pregnancy. If this is the case, it is important to:

  • continue breastfeeding
  • eat at least three main meals with snacks in-between

Exercising after pregnancy

Some ideas for gradually getting back into exercise after pregnancy are:

  • going for walks with your baby
  • joining an active mother’s group
  • attending postnatal exercise classes
  • doing pelvic floor exercises

Where can I go for advice and support?

You can talk to your doctor if:

  • you were overweight before pregnancy
  • you are concerned about your weight

They can give you advice on what weight is healthy for you, and how to reach it.

You can also visit a dietitian. They can:

  • give you more tips on how to lose weight
  • put together a personal eating plan for you

You can find an accredited practicing dietitian on the Dietitians Australia website.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2023

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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