Today’s post about how I lost my baby weight was a requested post from a fair few Instagram followers. Now before I begin, I want to acknowledge that postpartum weight loss is a really sensitive subject. The majority of women gain weight during pregnancy and we all know this is totally normal and totally fine. We know we don’t need to rush to lose the baby weight and no one is expecting us to look like a supermodel within weeks of giving birth. We all know that we’ll probably have a few extra squidgy bits after having a baby and that’s cool.
But many of us still want to shed those extra pounds we gained during pregnancy for one simple reason – because we feel so much better without them!
There’s so much about body positivity online at the moment (which is amazing!) but it often feels a bit taboo to admit that you’d actually rather lose a couple of pounds!
So this post is in no way meant to be a crazy suggestion that all women should immediately look like their pre-pregnant selves – nor should they want to. Our bodies do incredible things during pregnancy and it’s OK to come out on the other side with a bit of an extra jiggle!
This post is meant to be a bit of gentle support, a friendly chat and reassurance that you can lose your baby weight and it doesn’t need to be a long, hard dieting slog!
Lots of people have asked how long it takes to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy and for me it was one year after giving birth. I might have actually lost the weight much sooner but it was 12 months later that I felt like my body had returned to what it was – or at least to the closest it will be again!
This was my baby weight loss timeline for all 3 of my babies
The first month – Absolutely anything goes during the first month. This first month is all about recovery, bonding with my baby, relaxing and hibernating. I ate whatever I wanted, did very little exercise and spent most of my time on the sofa. I had c-sections for all 3 of my babies so I couldn’t drive, couldn’t lift my older children and had to be quite careful not to overdo it.
2-3 months – During the second and third month I still ate whatever I wanted and still avoided any formal exercise but started going out for long walks. This was for both my physical and mental health. You can find yourself cooped up indoors a lot when you have a young baby so a daily walk was really good for me!
3-6 months – I started doing postpartum exercises at 3 months and I joined 2 exercise classes specifically for new mums. One was Exercise with Baby and one was Sweaty Mama. During this time I also made a conscious effort to eat a healthy, balanced diet and try not to eat too many Chocolate Hobnobs! I don’t restrict myself from eating anything else (I just have no self control when it comes to Chocolate Hobnobs!)
Instead I just try to incorporate more veggies into my diet. This then usually means I’m fuller for longer and feel more satisfied after my meals so I tend to snack less and have smaller desserts (I never say no to dessert completely!)
6 months onwards – From 6 months onwards I was pretty much back to normal. I was going to the gym for short but regular cardio workouts, eating a balanced diet and mostly letting Mother Nature do her thing as my body recovered naturally.
I didn’t do much to strengthen my core because I was still very aware of my c-section scar and, particularly after having my 3rd section, I was worried about doing more harm than good. I had pretty bad muscle separation after each pregnancy and I was told that if you do too much core work then you can end up with irreparable damage.
The hardest thing around this time was probably tiredness. None of my babies were sleeping through the night at 6 months and we’d have the odd bad night due to teething or growth spurts. So I wasn’t too hard on myself, but still did make an effort.
12 months onwards – Strength building exercises
After having Alba, my third baby who is now almost 13 months, I’d lost any baby weight after about 9 months but I really noticed that I’d also lost a lot of my strength, muscle tone and flexibility this time. I probably felt it more this time because I’d lost a little bit more strength after each baby and it became really noticeable the 3rd time around! So my plan now is to focus on strength building exercises. I really enjoy kettlebell classes so I have a couple of YouTube favourites I follow 2-3 times a week. I’m getting back into yoga and I enjoy doing short HIT workouts with the boys too!
Tip #1 for losing weight after pregnancy – Breastfeed
OK, this is another tough topic and it can be a sensitive subject but, if you can, breastfeeding is a great way to lose your baby weight. We’re constantly told about the benefits of breastfeeding but it feels a little taboo to mention that one of the benefits is the incredible amount of calories you burn. For me, it was around the 6 month point that I really noticed the impact of breastfeeding and felt like I was losing weight but still starving hungry ALL THE TIME! It makes sense because this is usually when your body is producing the most milk for your baby. This is when most babies are ready to start eating solid foods and their appetites are getting bigger.
Live by the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule is a simple one to follow – basically, you try to be healthy 80% of the time and for 20% of the time anything goes. Some people will do this on a weekly basis and will be really healthy for 6 days a week and then have a ‘cheat day’.
I stick to it on a daily basis and I’m pretty healthy until about 8pm – but anything goes after 8pm! Wine, chocolate, ice cream, biscuits. Yes, I’ll have it all please! But I am pretty healthy for the majority of the day.
Don’t ban certain foods but fill up on fruit and veg
As I said above, I try not to restrict what I eat and cut things out of my diet. If I cut out chocolate, all I would want to eat would be chocolate. I’d become obsessed!
But if I increase the amount of fruit and veg I eat then I’ll often find I’m too full to eat much chocolate!
Prep your lunches
Lunch time can be tough when you’ve got a young baby to look after. Some days your baby might be upset and you barely get 2 minutes to yourself to prepare a decent meal. Other days your baby might be sleepy and you find yourself bored and constantly snacking because you don’t have much to do. Some days you’ll be tired after a sleepless night and can’t be bothered cooking. And many days you’ll suddenly realise it’s lunch time and you’re so hungry you’d eat your own arm and end up scoffing a packet of biscuits and half a loaf of bread!
So my advice is to prep your lunches ahead of time.
I’ll often make some kind of slow cooker veggie stew on a Monday. Sam isn’t keen on veggie stew so it’s something I like to make for myself for when he’s not around. I’ll just chuck a load of vegetables and some kind of stock and seasoning in the slow cooker and by lunch time I’ll have a week’s worth of healthy lunches.
Try 10 minute YouTube workouts
It’s difficult to find the time and motivation to workout when you’re caring for a young baby but I find 10 minute YouTube workouts are perfect. I’m not naively thinking that a 10 minute workout will be burning hundreds of calories but 10 minutes a day is better than nothing.
The reason I suggest a 10 minute workout is because most of us can commit to this. Even if you really don’t want to do it, you can pop a sports bra on and jump around your living room for 10 minutes. Knowing it will be over in just 600 seconds makes it much easier to begin and once you’re over that hurdle of beginning, you’re more likely to carry on.
I’ll over put a 10 minute workout on and then realise I’m enjoying it and do another one. Admittedly, I very rarely do a third but you can see where I’m going with this!
Just a little bit of exercise gives you a boost of energy and endorphins and helps you stay away from the biscuit tin because you don’t want to undo all your hard work!
Go to the gym to relax, not to exercise
This is just a mind game but it’s something Sam and I did when both Joseph and Alba were young babies.
We joined our local hotel spa gym and took it in turns going each evening. We weren’t really going to have a good workout, we were going to relax and unwind. The spa has a lovely pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi and the intention was to just go and chill for an hour each evening.
And some evenings I would just go and have a leisurely swim and a soak in the jacuzzi. But most evenings I’d also have a quick run on the treadmill and do some weights and stretching before my swim. For me, getting over the mental hurdle of actually leaving the house and going to the gym is the biggest challenge. Once I’ve got my trainers on and I’m there I actually want to workout, so if I’m telling myself I’m just going for a nice gentle swim then I’m more likely to actually go!
Put the treats out of reach
This is something I actually started doing during lockdown because my kids kept helping themselves to biscuits! I ended up putting the biscuits in a top cupboard and even I have to stand on a stool to get them down. I don’t consciously restrict myself from eating biscuits but I honestly eat way less now that I have to go to the effort of getting a stool and clambering up to get them!
I was in a habit of having a biscuit almost every time I had a cup of tea – and I drink a lot of tea! So cutting down on biscuits hasn’t changed my life but I must be consuming about 300 fewer calories a day.
Walk, walk, walk
Walking has so many benefits when you have a young baby. Not only does it help to burn some calories but the fresh air and exercise gives you an instant endorphin boost. And let’s not forget that a long walk with a pushchair is a great way to get Baby to sleep! It’s also really nice to team up with other mums and go for your daily walks together.
If you want to burn some extra calories while you’re walking then it’s worth remembering that you really need to get your heartrate up. A gentle stroll will do wonders for your mental health but it’s not going to burn many calories. You don’t necessarily need to run, but walk as quickly as you can and try to walk uphills. I highly recommend popping your baby in a carrier so you have a bit more freedom to choose walks that aren’t pushchair friendly. I also find that I walk much faster without a pushchair so I get my heartrate up.
I find that setting myself a challenge like walking 10,000 steps a day is a great way to keep myself motivated and not just taking a slow stroll around the block.
Check out my baby carrier reviews here:
LittleLife All Terrain Carrier – one for bigger babies and toddlers
And my final tip is something that I’m sure has helped me stay slim for most of my life and that’s quite simply being busy.
I rarely sit and watch TV and never, ever watch TV during the day. I always have a little project, something I’m working on, work to do, somewhere to be or somewhere to go.
I know it isn’t easy during lockdown and it can be difficult in the winter too when it’s raining and cold out – but just generally being busy and active must be good for your health, surely?
Another thing about being busy is that you’re not sat in your kitchen eating!