A Guide to Weight Gain and Pregnancy

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Pregnancy always involves a roller coaster of emotions.

The excitement of having a baby is going to be at an all-time high, but most women that get pregnant are also nervous about how their lives are going to change. It’s not abnormal to worry how their bodies are going to change, either.

In fact, nearly 80% of all women that become pregnant are concerned about losing weight after pregnancy and getting back to a pre-pregnancy body. Some are even operating under the impression that this is an impossibility and that they will gain some “baby fat” permanently.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sure, the process of losing weight after a pregnancy is going to be a little bit different than simply cutting down on your calories and spending more time in the gym.

Your body will have undergone a number of major changes, particularly at the biochemical and hormonal levels, and those are just a few things you’ll need to figure out before you see real weight loss results.

Let’s dig a little bit deeper into what you need to know about losing weight following a pregnancy.


Average Weight Gain During Pregnancy


It will come as absolutely zero surprise to anyone that woman will put on weight during a pregnancy. At the same time, the specific amount of weight gain during a pregnancy is going to be all over the place.

Not only is your weight gain during a pregnancy going to be heavily influenced by the size of your newborn (averaging anywhere between 5 and 10 pounds alone) but you’re also going to have weight gain caused by amniotic fluid, placenta, and good old-fashioned body fat along the way as well.

Combine all of that with the skyhigh likelihood of extra water retention during a pregnancy and it can really start to add up.

 According to the American Medical Journal it’s not at all unusual for women of average weight to put on between 25 and 35 pounds as a “healthy start”.

Some women will put on less weight, others will put on more, but as a general rule you should expect to be significantly heavier during and after your pregnancy than you were before you had a new life growing inside of you.

Now, some women are going to wonder where all this extra weight goes. Plenty of women are stunned to learn that they have put on as much weight during a pregnancy as their doctor tells them if only because not all of that weight is hidden in your baby belly.

Breast tissue is going to swell, your blood supply is going to increase, fat stores throughout the body are going to begin to enlarge and, and even your uterus itself is going to grow during your pregnancy.

A lot of women going in for a regular medical checkup late in their pregnancy find themselves stunned by how much they weigh just because their belly didn’t grow as much as they expected.

There are plenty of places for body fat and retained water to hide when you are pregnant.


Why Weight Gain Happens During Pregnancy

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A decade ago, The Institute of Medicine updated their guidelines pertaining to weight gain and pregnancy. These guidelines had been adjusted since 1990, but with new research into the field they felt that it was high time for these ideas and guiding principles to be updated to reflect what we now understand about weight gain and pregnancy.

Recognizing that your average woman is going to put on between 25 and 35 pounds, the IOM went a step further and broke down where all of this weight gain is most likely to occur, how all of this weight gain is going to be caused, and why all of this weight gain happens in the first place.

For example, the IOM says that the average pregnancy weight gain distribution for a pregnant woman looks like:

  • 7 ½ pounds for the newborn baby itself
  • 1 ½ pounds for the placenta
  • 4 pounds of extra fluid retained
  • 2 pounds worth of enlarged uterus material
  • 2 pounds worth of enlarged breast tissue
  • 4 pounds of increased blood volume
  • 7 pounds of fat, protein, and other nutrients stored for the baby
  • 2 pounds of amniotic fluid


At first glance, each of these figures does not look like all that much extra weight to gain while you are pregnant. It appears easy to go about maintaining healthy weight during pregnancy with how small these totals appear at first.

On the flip side, however, each and every one of these pounds adds up – and there’s always the potential for women to add more weight than these averages with their specific pregnancy.

Much of this weight gain occurs because you have a developing life growing inside of your belly. Not only is the child itself going to add quite a bit of weight to your pregnancy (a decent amount of it, at that). But your body is also going to pack on fuel, food, and nutrients for that little body to grow and develop as well.

Combine all of this with the hormonal changes wreaking havoc on your metabolism, an increased desire to consume extra calories (particularly crazy cravings you might not have been nuts for previously), and a more sedentary lifestyle because of the fatigue and stress a pregnancy brings to the table.

It’s easy to see why women gain weight while pregnant.


10 Tips to Safely Losing Weight After Pregnancy


You are naturally going to go about losing weight after a pregnancy (particularly after you have delivered your baby). The baby will be delivered, your water retention issues will start to fade away, and your body will stop building fat stores for your baby as well.

For most women, however, this rate of weight loss isn’t exactly ideal.

Very rarely will you hear women ask “why am I losing weight after pregnancy?”. It is a lot more common to hear women ask about how they can lose weight faster without compromising their health or the safety of their new baby.

Below we include some of the best weight loss tips after pregnancy around, tips and tricks that will help you lose weight following your pregnancy safely and efficiently.

You’ll be able to eliminate a lot of the average healthy weight gain during pregnancy inside of a month or two and may even be able to build a beach body ready with the best diet for pregnancy weight loss in four or five months.


Don’t Diet Right Away

This might sound a little counterintuitive at first, but believe it or not the best diet for pregnancy weight loss is actually no diet at all in the first month or so after you have given birth.

Instead of dieting, eat a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein while keeping an eye on your carbohydrate and sugar intake. Shoot for 1800 cal a day (and no lower) and you should be just fine losing weight but still being healthy enough to breast-feed.


Eat More Super Foods

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As a new mother you are going to want to maximize your nutrition while minimizing caloric intake to lose weight, and that means you need to eat more super foods.

Fish (especially salmon and tuna), dairy, and yogurt are going to be able to flood you with DHA, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium without bringing a lot of extra calories to the table. Lean sources of protein that are low in fat and high in protein and fiber are a good choice as well.



Breast-feeding is a great approach to help you lose weight, particularly if you find yourself pumping excess breastmilk even when your baby isn’t hungry at that particular point in time.

You’ll be able to stockpile breastmilk for your baby (perfect for those late-night feeding sessions) and go about losing weight after pregnancy while breast-feeding all at the same time.


Drink More Water

Keeping your body hydrated will help you in so many different ways as a new mom. It’s also going to help you curb your cravings, keep your caloric intake and check, do a little bit of work as an appetite suppressant, and may even speed up your metabolism.

Drink at least eight glasses of water every day and you’ll see your weight loss results following a pregnancy really start to take off.


Exercise More Frequently

Exercises a big part of any post pregnancy weight loss routine and you’ll want to get into the swing of things as quickly as possible.

You don’t necessarily need to be pounding out miles on the treadmill the day after you have given birth, but you will want to start a regular 30 minute exercise session daily a week or two after you have given birth.

At a minimum you should try to get at least 150 minutes per exercise in every week as a new mom and the weight will start to slip right off.


Sleep More

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Believe it or not, you really are going to be able to lose a bit of extra weight while you sleep as a new mom.

Your body is obviously going to be going through quite a bit of changes after you have delivered your baby. This is going to promote increased metabolic activity and resting more each night (shooting for at least eight hours of sleep) is only going to help your body consume more fuel and energy while you recover from these changes.


Eat More Fiber

Eating foods that are high in fiber has been conclusively proven to help with weight loss, not only with women that are pregnant or following a pregnancy but people in general.

The impact on your overall digestive capabilities after increasing your fiber intake will stimulate metabolic activity as well, helping you to move more solid waste from your body while helping you feel a lot better.


Forget About Alcohol for a While

You obviously aren’t going to want to be consuming alcohol while you are breast-feeding, but it’s important to abstain from alcohol even after you have decided to move on from breast-feeding as well.

Alcohol is going to inhibit your weight loss progress, is loaded with extra carbohydrates and sugars, and is commonly found in mixed drinks or beverages that are skyhigh in empty calories.

If you’re able to abstain from alcohol for 12 months following your pregnancy you’ll not only look and feel much better but you’ll have dropped a tremendous amount of weight along the way as well.

Implement the tips and tricks included above and you’ll find that losing weight after pregnancy C-section or natural births becomes a whole lot easier than most people expect or anticipate.


Workout with Fellow Moms

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Trying to lose weight as a new mom all on your own can be a real uphill battle.

Thankfully though, most local communities have groups and fitness classes specifically designed to help new moms lose weight, get healthier, and not only build a better body but builds new friendships and relationships off of this shared experience as well. Check out those classes as soon as you feel ready.


Count Calories

At the end of the day, if you’re trying to do as little as possible while still finding a way to lose weight following a pregnancy, the old weight loss adage “fat loss equals calories in minus calories out” is about as simplified and approaches you are going to find.


Roughly calculate the amount of calories you burn on a day-to-day basis (there are plenty of calculators online to help you do exactly that) and then figure out how many calories you need to consume on a day-to-day basis to eat at a caloric deficit.

This will trigger effortless weight loss all on its own, though you’ll want to make sure that you don’t go below 1800 cal consumed on a day-to-day basis (particularly if you are still breast-feeding).