Pregnancy and weight gain go hand and hand obviously. The recommendation for women who are of average weight, BMI of about 18-24%, is to gain between 25-35 lbs during their pregnancy. There are few women, or men, who want to gain an extra 25 lbs. During pregnancy gaining too much or too little has health consequences for both mother and baby.
There’s a certain level of anxiety about gaining weight during pregnancy and the ability to loose it afterward. We all have friends or relatives who never lost the “baby weight” and if they get pregnant again, they put on more weight.
You’re not going to loose all that weight the moment baby is born. Some of it is fat that you’ll slowly work off over the months that follow the birth of your little one. How much fat?
For the average baby and mother the weight distribution is something close to this:
Baby: 8 lbs
Placenta: 2-3 lbs
Amniotic fluid: 2-3 lbs
Breast Tissue: 2-3 lbs
Blood supply: 4 lbs
Larger uterus: 2-5 lbs
Stored fat for delivery and breastfeeding: 5-9 lbs.
So you’re looking at losing somewhere between 12-14 lbs right at birth. Your blood volume will return to normal over the six weeks following birth and your uterus will shrink down over the same period of time. That’s another 6-9 lbs. That leaves you with breast tissue and your store of fat.
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, you’ll add some weight when your milk comes in (2-3 days after birth of baby), which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has picked up a quart of milk. The average milk capacity of a human female is between 25-35 oz a day. Breastfeeding burns an extra 600-800 calories a day (you should be eating 500 extra calories to maintain your milk supply), which means merely feeding your baby will help you burn of some of that fat store.
You’ll still be wearing your maternity clothes for a while after baby is born, so don’t pack your skinny jeans in your hospital bag as you prepare for the birth of your baby. The important thing is to know this is normal and not to be concerned about it. Your body just created a whole other person inside of it which took nine months. You should give it the same amount of time to lose the weight.
Lugging around an extra 25 lbs is hard work and since it’s not all fat stores, I like to think we’re getting stronger in the process.
Losing weight can be a slow process after baby is born because it’s harder to get to the gym or hit the trails for a run, not only because you have a little one to care for, but because you’re tired. But it’s doable. Give your body time to recover from the most important endurance event in your life.