Losing weight after birth safely
When is it safe to start losing weight?
After having a baby, you might be exhausted or feel there's no time for healthy eating and exercise. It's good to try to look after yourself anyway; enjoying a healthy lifestyle with gradual weight loss is best.
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.
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 doctor first.
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.
By eating wisely and exercising gently, you might lose 500g each week. This may not sound like much, but be patient. The most important thing is to take care of yourself with good food and exercise. It might take 6 months or more to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Crash or fad diets aren’t suitable during pregnancy or breastfeeding, as they don’t contain all the nutrients you and your baby need.
Your body might look different after having children. Some women become frustrated and wonder how to lose belly fat. But whether you lose weight or not, enjoy a healthy lifestyle and be proud of what your body has achieved.
Can breastfeeding aftect weight loss?
Gradual weight loss of 500g per week, is all right while breastfeeding. Losing weight more rapidly through dieting might mean you don’t pass on enough nutrients to your baby.
Breastfeeding is not only best for your baby, it can help you lose weight gained during pregnancy because your body uses fat stores and energy to nourish your baby. You might find you don’t lose weight until you have stopped breastfeeding. However, overall, women who breastfeed their babies for at least the first few months tend to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy faster than women who do not breastfeed.
Breastfeeding can make you hungry. Eating extra vegetables, protein and other nutritious choices is best and you should try to avoid processed foods high in fat or sugar. You need to drink plenty of water too.
Tips for losing weight after birth
- Enjoy a variety of fresh foods, including vegetables, proteins and whole grains.
- Foods that are high in fibre, such as vegetables, legumes and grains, can help fill you up.
- Eat smaller portions. Using a smaller plate can help.
- Sit down and enjoy your meal slowly.
- If you’re hungry, choose healthy options rather than processed snacks.
- If you find junk food tempting, try not having it in the house.
- Allow your body to lose weight gradually.
- Gradually get back into exercise. Go for a walk with your baby, or to a mums and bubs exercise class.
- Breastfeeding can help for some women.
When can I go for advice and support?
If you were overweight before your pregnancy, you might need to talk to your doctor about how to lose weight.
A dietitian can give you more tips on how to lose weight, and they can put together a personal eating plan that is nutritious and allows for gradual post-pregnancy weight loss. You can find an accredited practicing dietitian on the Dietitians Australia website.
If you are concerned about your weight, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor.
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.
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Last reviewed: November 2021