Tips for Losing the Baby Weight – That Really Work!

by Charlotte on November 17, 2009 · 31 comments


I am ten days past the scream-n-push Bodily Fluids Festival of ’09 (Marilyn Manson should take notes) which means, of course, that it’s time to talk about losing the baby weight. No, not because I’m feeling overly anxious about it – I’m too busy being anxious about being anxious! – but because I’ve gotten a ton of e-mails about it. Being officially The Nicest People on the Internet, none of you readers have been pressuring me but rather just wondering if I’ve found anything that works. Weight loss being the crapshoot that it is once you mix in genetics, socioeconomic status, general health, age and a host of other factors, nonetheless I have found a few tips that genuinely seem to make a difference. So far. (Please note I am only 10 days post partum and will not even come within five feet of my box of “normal” clothes yet.)

1. Have the baby. Okay, so that was a liiiiitle tongue-in-cheek but seriously when else in your life can you say, “I just lost 15 pounds in ONE DAY. Take THAT Jillian!”? Word.


Okay, from here on out, I’m serious. I swear.

2. Wear a belly wrap. I have a Taut (holla to also-momma-of-4 Brooke Burke!) but there is also the Belly Bandit, a host of medical compression bands and the low-tech-but-cheap Ace bandage method. At first blush, this seems like a bunch of hooey: Wear a big elastic belt and get a flatter stomach!! Except that many cultures have been doing exactly that for centuries. Women who have just given birth are in a special (read: anatomically freakish) place with their core. Your organs get all squished to weird places, your abdominal muscles detach from each other, all your ligaments get loose and your hips act as if they can’t stand to be in the same room with each other. Using a compression belt helps bring everything back to its proper place and hold it there. My delivery nurse, a lovely woman from Trinidad, told me that the fact that Americans don’t typically belly wrap after birth was a huge shock to her as everyone in her country did it and felt that not only was it more comfortable but it was medically advantageous. She was very impressed that I was doing it and even showed me a few tricks to use it properly (lay down when you put it on, start at the top and fasten it downward).

I’ll admit I first bought the Taut hoping to flatten my abs faster after birth but when I first put it on in the hospital, I gotta tell you it felt good. Really good. It supported my back and my stomach and put just the right amount of pressure on my hips. The website also claims it helps the skin reattach and tighten up faster. Who cares if my stomach still looked 6-months pregnant? It felt awesome! And, yes, I honestly do think it has made my stomach flatter faster than it would have been otherwise. After having 5 children I feel like I’m in a position to compare. This is my first time using a compression band and I feel like this is the fastest my stomach has ever deflated. Besides – have I mentioned this already? – it feels so nice!

Downsides: it does make you sweaty, the velcro sticks to your underwear and can rip it, and they can be pricey. Also, just to manage your expectations, a belly wrap is not a corset or Spanx – it isn’t meant to give you a smooth, flat silhouette. In fact, it looks a bit bulky under tight clothing but who’s wearing tight clothing at this point, anyhow?

3. Eat your probiotics. This one works not just for preggos and post-preggos but for everyone. I first found this tip in Fit Pregnancy magazine in a blurb summarizing a research study that found that pregnant women who ate (or took via pill) probiotics every day had 47% less belly fat 6 months post-partum than women who didn’t. You know I love my homemade yogurt so I figured this one wouldn’t be hard to try. While the results are less easily observed in myself as a) I’m not 6-months post-partum yet and b) I’m a study of one, the original research was quite convincing and probiotics have been shown to help with not only weight loss but stomach health and even gum and dental health! Not to mention that yogurt – especially Greek yogurt – is a good source of protein and calcium. So unless you are lactose intolerant or allergic then this is probably one of those things that wouldn’t hurt to try.

4. Lay off the intense exercise. At least at first. I’ve talked about this study before but research has found that initially for post-partum women, returning to intense exercise right away does not speed weight loss. Mostly I’m reiterating this here for my benefit, especially after Gym Buddy Krista threatened to roundhouse my butt if I returned to Turbokick too quickly. (And girlfriend kicks hard.)
5. Breastfeed? Pregnant women hear this advice ad nauseum (and really isn’t there enough nausea already going on?): Breastfeed and the baby weight will melt away like magic! While breastfeeding does have a host of benefits for both mom and baby (my fave: it’s free! I’m nothing if not cheap), the jury is still out on weight loss. For me in the past, I find that the weight comes off pretty easily in the first six months. That is until I get to the last 10 pounds. At which point my body decides it had better keep my thighs really well padded, you know, in case of famine or the need to double as Kim Kardashian. There is nothing I can do within the realms of good health to get those last 10 pounds off until I wean the little sucker. My goal this time around is to learn to enjoy my hips and boobs for the short time I actually have them rather than trying to fight those last ten pounds. That’s what I have the rest of my life for, right?

For other women it is different though. I have one friend who actually complains that she gets too thin while nursing. Either way, they say nursing burns about 500 calories a day. Like a calorie deficit from exercise, your body strives to maintain equilibrium and will make you hungrier to compensate. (Seriously, you have not seen starving until you’ve seen me eat when my milk comes in. Small animals hide in fear.)
Conclusion
I am not not not telling anyone, no matter how pre- or post- or even non- partum you are, to worry about your weight. If you must worry, worry about being healthy. However, I know many of you girls think about this. I think about this! It’s practically unavoidable in our culture. So I share these sensible tips less like a lose-weight cudgel to the head and more like a help-a-sister-out hug. Pregorexia is never a good idea.

Did I miss anything? Any of you have a great weight-loss tip?

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Sagan November 18, 2009 at 2:49 am

The whole pregnancy this isn't REALLY my forte ;) but I've definitely done that "worry about being worried" thing. Gotta work on that one.

Interesting about the belly wrapping stuff, I'd never heard of that before.

Reply

Erika November 18, 2009 at 3:05 am

Only eat babyfood? Ok, all kidding aside, I found that with my first, I could easily go for long walks either outside or since it was February, in a mall. I felt like I was not cooped up and burning calories. Of course, seeing as it was my first, there were several occasions where I forgot diapers, burp clothes, extra clothes for those really messy issues, etc. Then with my second, long walks were not as possible so I just went up and down the stairs in my house a lot!

Reply

Joshua November 18, 2009 at 3:30 am

Weight loss tips? Me? About the only thing that worked for me was cutting out Red Bull and Soda and alcohol, drinking only water, cutting down the sweets, and riding the recumbent stationary bike 5 times a week going 20 miles in around an hour. That's how I lost 50 pounds.

-Joshua

Reply

VaMomof2 November 18, 2009 at 3:30 am

For me, the only thing that finally shook the last baby weight off each time was running. Stick that little person in a jogging stroller after work and hit the road. Of course, just when I got back down to my pre-preg weight the first time (took 8 months), along came pregnancy #2 and after that one, it took longer than 8 months to get the weight off (and I needed a double-stroller).

Reply

Niki November 18, 2009 at 5:14 am

um yeah, no magic secret here. My 4th boy is 5 months and I'm working on that last 8 lbs. I tried the waist binding but the bulk under my clothes got to me. Now I feel like a tool though lol. I've always lost the weight before and have to remind myself frequently that I will again and to calm down and not become obsessed with it. I'd go get it sucked, nipped and tucked if I could though!

Reply

azusmom November 18, 2009 at 5:47 am

All good advice! I used a belly wrap after my second pregnancy. I don't know if it helped me lose the weight faster, but it did feel REALLY good!
I think walking with the baby is one of the best things to do. You bond with your little one, you get out of the house, and you can clear your mind. All very important things, especially in those first 6 weeks post-partum!
Nursing didn't help me lose weight. At all. But it was still a great thing to do!

Reply

matmos November 18, 2009 at 7:51 am

I am due in two weeks. My plan to lose the baby weight? Wait 6 months (while breastfeeding) and then worry about it. I figure I'll have enough already to keep me occupied during that time. I *do* want to start weight-lifting again after 6 weeks or so, that's because I love weight-lifting and it feels good, not as a weight-loss maneuver…

Reply

Victoria November 18, 2009 at 9:03 am

Congratulations!

I don't really have any tips. Breastfeeding seems to have shifted all my weight and I now have to concentrate on keeping my weight up. However I wondered if you had any advice on exercise and breastfeeding as I have heard that lactic acid can affect it. Is this true? And is it possible that exercise can reduce milk supply?

Reply

Charlotte November 18, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Victoria – Good q's about breastfeeding! I have nursed and worked out (hard) with my previous children to no ill effect. I do find that it is easier to nurse the kids first and then workout both for comfort (slightly smaller boobs) and for the baby (so I don't sweat all over them. I've heard some moms say that their babies don't like the taste of their milk after they workout but my kids never had a problem with it. In fact they seemed to like the salty taste from the sweat. TMI??

Reply

Charlotte November 18, 2009 at 1:54 pm

PS Victoria> I think as long as you are eating enough calories your milk production will not be lessened.

Reply

Charlotte November 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Niki – don't feel like a tool!! It IS annoying wearing it under my clothes. I totally understand where you are coming from. They say you are supposed to wear it 6-8 weeks and I'm not sure I'll make it that long either.

Reply

Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman November 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm

I don't have any pregnancy know-how, but I can say that taking a daily probiotic (I use Align)really helps–it keeps me less bloated.

Reply

Gena November 18, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Charlotte, I love your pregnancy posts. I really do. As a gal who hopes to have her own one day soon, I've found your posts reassuring and positive. I'll be re-reading them when I deal with my own craziness.

Reply

halima November 18, 2009 at 2:39 pm

like you breastfeeding left me with 10lbs to lose. w/ my 1st after i stopped nursing the 10lbs fell off with the 2nd not so much and i'm still struggling to lose it(baby is 9 mths). I tried the belly bandit it wasnt comfy and didn't fit right so i didn't use it. my belly looks fine without it. i'm looking forward to hearing about what you do to lose the lbs.

Reply

bjbella5 November 18, 2009 at 3:06 pm

It took me about 6 months after each kid to lose the weight. I definitely think it was the breastfeeding for me. From 6 – 12 months I would get super-skinny and could eat whatever I wanted. After I stopped nursing I would gain weight, that sucked. Gaining weight and losing the nursing rack was not a good combo for my self-image.

Reply

Crabby McSlacker November 18, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Great tips–and the probiotics are a great reminder for everyone, pregnant or not.

Never heard of the body wrap, but sounds like a great idea if it makes things more comfortable!

Reply

Geosomin November 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm

A friend, who always has been able to gradually take off her baby weight, said to me that it took her 9 months to put it on, so she gives herself 9 months to get it off before wigging out.
Having never been preggie I have no advice. It seemed like logical advice to me.

Reply

Meg November 18, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Love the tips Charlotte! I can't wait for my body to be my own again. Of course, then I will be nursing…so that is going to be a long while. sigh.

Reply

recreationmama November 18, 2009 at 4:02 pm

I breastfed for 6 months and got super skinny. After I stopped I gained like 10 pounds, which was only 5 more than my post pregnancy body, but still makes me feel fat! What suggestions do you have after the breast feeding stops to keep that skinny sexy body?

Reply

POD November 18, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Great tips! Where were you 31 years ago?

Reply

Jody - Fit at 52 November 18, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Hey, if you have never been pregnant, can you still wear that belt thingy & get a flatter stomach? :-) I guess I can't do the breast feeding either;-)

I do the Greek yogurt so I am on board with that.

Charlotte, I have nothing. I have never been preggo! But losing weight… eat better, eat healthier, don't eat more than you need to, move. Duh, right!

Reply

Anonymous November 18, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Congratulations on the baby! I commented before on "how often to weigh in" and mentioned there that I lost all the baby weight (and then some) without trying. What I did was 1. breastfeed exclusively for 6 months; 2. lead the lifestyle I want my kids to have (and that I believe they learn from my example). I may have to mention I'm European.
Fresh foods, home cooked dinners (and I ate a lot!), desserts or homemade cake for sweets, little junk food/candy, taking the car as little as possible, going outside for walks in every weather (one time the stroller broke in pouring rain with two kids on/in it), walking places to show them their surroundings instead of taking the car. I did no formal exercise, but pushing a stroller uphill with twenty pounds of groceries and a two-year-old on the kiddie board… Or pushing a stroller one-handed while simultaneously pushing a three-year-old on a bike… were quite exhausting enough!

Reply

carla November 19, 2009 at 1:16 am

Ive read this three times already girl and you are one kickass writer.

Never wrapped but I know many women who did and swear by it (and I think they wrap post birth in Guatemala as well).

Im so glad youre back.

I
Selfish.

Reply

Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) November 19, 2009 at 1:56 am

Thanks so much for this post Charlotte. Bookmarking it. I know I will refer back to it often if I should ever have a little one of my own. :)

Reply

AmyLou November 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Well, I only have one child, not five, but I feel like I can still comment!

First of all, I have heard awesome things about belly wrapping and totally plan to do it when/if we have a second. Let us know how that works out for you!

Secondly, breastfeeding worked wonders for me. I hated every minute of it (not a touchy-feely person, but it was healthy and FREE!), but it helped me lose all 40 pounds plus another 10 on top of that, all while sitting on my behind! ;)

Finally, after breastfeeding, you need to cut out several hundred calories a day to keep yourself from gaining the pounds back. I was able to do this in the summer, but in the winter, comfort foods took over and I gained those extra 10 pounds back.

HTH!
Good luck Charlotte!

Reply

Lisa November 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm

I had to chime in on the this one…(i read your blog but have yet to post any comments! love your blog by the way!)
I had my daughter in Aug 08 and was cleared for exercise 6 weeks later. (I wish I had the ab wrap thingy,,,I can see in hindsight how helpful that would be!) Once cleared, I believed running would help me get my figure back…wrong.
I didn't change my eating habits that much nor did I jump back into weight training…I didn't see the results I wanted. But cutting the weights out of the equation was not the way for me to go. I finally came to realize that I needed to get back into the gym, pick up my kettlebells and cut back on my running. I am now almost 15 months post partum and LOVE LOVE LOVE my results. I changed my nutrition (I now follow Precision Nutrition) and lift 3 days a week – mostly kettlebells and bodyweight exercises (see Turbulence Training for some amazing workouts). The other days of the week, I do intervals on the t-mill, run outside with jogging stroller and daughter or bodyweight exercises in the yard while she naps…
We are talking about having another one and I no longer fear losing my figure because now I know how to get it back!! For me, it was harder to get my strength back then my figure…I plan to do things differently the next pregnancy…but pregnancy is tough and giving myself permission to take a day (or week) off is something of a struggle at times.

Reply

Quix November 19, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Lesse, beyond the obvious stuff… how about wait 'til it's something you WANT to do and are MOTIVATED to do and READY to do and not just something you feel like you should. All partums. :)

The wrapping thing sounds as if it is AWESOME. That makes so much sense!

Reply

Shannon December 4, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Well, my 1st OB absolutely swore that Pilates done correctly and regularly before and between pregnancies, and prenatal Pilates variants, would help your abs rebound faster. Incidentally, he also claimed it would give you a faster labor and delivery. I have no actual proof of this, but since I had a 4 hour labor with an 8 minute delivery, I tend to believe him.

As for weight loss, mine just fell off after the kids in the first few weeks. I was genetically blessed.

Reply

Nelly February 24, 2010 at 9:39 pm

I think it can be very hard to stay motivated when you have a baby to look after, you are tired, then you have to face going back to work etc. It can be so much easier to just keep on eating and telling yourself that you will lose weight later. What motivated me in the end was the worry that my advancing age would mean that I ended up stuck with the fat permanently ( I am approaching 50 – had my four kids late). I know that the menopause can cause women to gain weight so I knew I needed to prepare for that! But it can be done, just give yourself time and get there gradually – neber try to rush the process.

Reply

Jennie May 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I just found this article and it is interesting. I have always been told that exercise is good during pregnancy, however with severe hyperemesis I have never been able to keep it up for long (this is my 5th pregnancy) . Any ideas for that? Thanks for recommending the belly band, I have been thinking about one, just didn’t know anybody who has used one. Also, I too am a starving women when my milk comes in and everything tastes WONDERFUL (unlike the 9 months before when everything made me nauseous). It’s nice to hear someone else is.

Reply

Charlotte May 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Hey Jennie – congrats on #5! That’s so exciting! As for the exercise, I’d say with hyperemesis you should just worry about getting enough food and staying as healthy as possible. Let the exercise thing go until you feel better! Like my friend Krista kept reminding me, “It’s only 9 months out of your entire life.” Seriously I’m sure you’ve got enough on your plate with four other little ones to take care of plus all the puking! Good luck! (And enjoy the delicious food when you’re nursing – love that!)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: