5 Tips to Lose the Baby Weight Healthfully While Keeping Your Sanity

By Ashley Nowe, founder of GetMomStrong.com

I know. I know.  You’re anxious to get your body back after having that beautiful baby.  You haven’t worn a proper pair of skinny jeans in like 10 months and you want to feel like your sexy self again.  The truth is, losing weight postpartum takes time.  And if you don’t go about it in a healthful, mindful way, you will cause more harm than good, and even the best pair of skinny jeans aren’t worth that.  Know that you will get to where you want to be in due time.  But for now, grab a cup of lactation tea, pull up your big girl stretch pants, and have a read.

Here are five ways to lose the baby weight healthfully…all while keeping your sanity.


1: Be patient.

You see the magazine covers adorned with superstars trim minutes after birth.  You follow fit moms on social media who pop their babies out and are doing walking lunges out of the hospital. Mind over matter, you tell yourself? WRONG. This is NOT reality. More importantly, it is not what your body wants, and it is not what your body needs.  Now, more than ever, is the time to listen to your body.

As much as we all like instantaneous results, a gradual approach to weight loss is best.  In the first few weeks after birth you will lose about 15 pounds—the baby’s weight and fluids.  (Aren’t the night sweats fun?)  The rest will come off as you eat healthfully.  For many women, it takes a year to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.  And even so, you might find your body is a different shape than it was before.  And that’s okay.  Our bodies are meant to change.


2: Don’t diet.

You are sleep deprived. Shower deprived. Self-care deprived. Pedicure deprived. Adult interaction deprived.  Do you really want to add food deprived to the list? No!  Dieting always backfires, whether you are postpartum or otherwise.

Even worse than the mental anguish of dieting, inadequate nutrition during this time of healing can take a toll on your body and your hormones, exacerbated even more significantly if you choose to breastfeed.

When we diet too restrictively, our body goes into panic mode. It cues our body to produce more leptin, ghrelin, and a number of other hormones that signal our body’s hunger.  So while you might think will-power is to blame when your diet goes awry, the simple truth is that your body is protecting you from the perceived “famine,” also known as your crazy detox cayenne lemon water diet you thought was a good idea. The effects from crash dieting can last years wreaking havoc on your once functional metabolism. I’ll say it again, aim to lose about a pound a week or less, and do it by eating healthfully and mindfully. Depriving yourself, juicing, however many day fixing yourself, and starving your body of needed nutrients will only leave you frazzled, miserable, and with a slowed metabolism.

Remember, if you are breastfeeding, you have increased nutritional needs—about 500 extra calories a day.  That is about 200 calories more than when pregnant.  And that beautiful baby benefits from nutritionally dense breast milk you make from eating healthy whole foods. So eat!


3: Fuel your body like the machine it is. Eat real food.

You are tired as hell—all the time.  It is commonplace when battling sleep deprivation and waiting too long between meals to not make the best food choices. You are only human…and a tired one at that.  Blood sugar is low and you’re tired, so you reach for the sugar and white carbs for an instant burst of energy.  You want those comfort foods, because you have never felt so out of your element as you do with a new baby, a toddler, and doing this mom thing on two hours of sleep.  The thing is, these quick fixes only leave us more tired and in a never-ending cycle of highs and lows.  As hard as it is in the moment, try to think about fueling your body for the endurance race that is motherhood.

Eat often to avoid crashing.  Have healthy food on-hand that you can make quickly.  You aren’t going for Martha Stewart standards here.  Frozen vegetables, cooked chicken, and chopped fruits and veggies are all great to keep on-hand.  Do some batch cooking when you have help around so that you have food for the week.  You know the deal: lots of leafy greens, a variety of veggies, slow-burning carbs from sweet potatoes and oats, lean meats and dairy, some fruit, nuts and healthy oils for fats.  I also recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, as it helps may help aid in connective tissue recovery.


4: Drink Water.  A LOT of water.

Drinking water throughout the day not only prevents dehydration, but it also fills you up.  Research has shown that adequate water consumption may actually speed up your metabolism.  And can you guess what breastmilk is predominately comprised of? Yep.  Water.  Keep a water bottle with you when out and about, one next to the bed, and one next to your favorite nursing spot.


5: Exercise…in due time.

In those first few weeks, focus on recovery and rest.  When you do feel ready to incorporate some exercise, it is imperative that you first reconnect with your core and pelvic floor.  Learn how to use your breath—inhale to fill belly with air, audible exhale to release the air as you draw bellybutton to spine and pelvic floor in and up (as though you are drinking a smoothie through a straw from your vagina).  After that, you can start reconnecting with your pelvic floor by doing gentle exercises like pelvic floor contractions, pelvic tilts, and head lifts. Fit2Prokreate has an awesome step-by-step approach to get you back to your favorite exercises, but in a healthy way that won’t do long-term damage.

Even after you are given clearance to exercise by your doctor, avoid high-impact movements like box jumps, jump rope, and most certainly stay clear of crunches, sit-ups and anything that “jack-knifes” your body.  All these movements place strain on your pelvic floor and connective tissue. There are better, more effective, and safer ways to train your core.  Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, and above all else, find a pelvic floor physical therapist in your area. It is worth even one appointment to ensure that you are properly using your inner-most abdominal muscles, the ones we so commonly lose touch with while pregnant.  

I’ll never forget going to my six-week check-up after my first son was born.  “When will my uterus shrink back to normal?” I asked, referring to my belly that still had a hefty dose of jiggle. My doctor, kind and a equipped with a stellar bedside manner, gave a sympathetic smile, and said, “Your uterus is back down.” She started in on some speech about it taking time for my body to bounce back, which I tuned out, determined more than ever to drop that weight.  After my second pregnancy, twins no less, I had this same impatient mindset.  I paid the price this time.  I was slow to heal, my postpartum bleeding didn’t subside for 12 weeks, and I gave myself a pretty bad diastasis recti, an abdominal separation between the “six-pack” muscles that leaves you with a pronounced “mommy tummy” and lacking core strength.  

As a nutrition coach who has helped numerous moms lose weight, as well as an athlete mom myself, I’m here to tell you that each pregnancy is different, as is each postpartum journey. Sometimes the greatest act of strength and fortitude is taking things slow and keeping your eye on the prize–a healthy you and a healthy family.  Take care of you.  A lot of people depend it.

Ashley Nowe is a certified nutrition health coach specializing in helping moms regain their strength and confidence through improved nutrition, healthy living, and functional exercise.  Inspired by her own struggle in healing from the birth of her twin boys, she founded Get Mom Strong (www.getmomstrong.com) to provide nutrition education and core-safe exercise ideas for moms looking to get fit safely and effectively.

Note from Colleen: Remember, if you’re at a loss for what to do in your new mom body, there’s the Core Care protocol, 6 week postpartum or prolapse programs, and remote training to help you safely and effectively restore and get back to the exercise you love! As always, if you have special conditions or specific goals or questions, please contact me at colleenbba@gmail.com or 585-261-3743.