If you’ve just given birth and you’re still feeling a little pregnant, don’t stress! This post will lead you through what you can expect as far as the timeline for postpartum weight loss, and there is a postpartum weight loss chart at the bottom of this post for you to download for your own personal use.
Your body took over 9 months to grow your pregnancy, but often we expect the weight to fall right off after we give birth. Losing the weight after your pregnancy will take some time. While you can’t predict exactly what your postpartum weight loss will look like, there are guidelines to follow when working on losing weight after baby.
This post is designed to help you create an optimal weight loss plan for you.
Postpartum Weight Loss Timeline: How much weight can you lose after giving birth?
Much of how much weight you can lose (and how quickly) depends a lot on how much you gain during your pregnancy.
Typically your healthy weight gain during pregnancy is classified by your pre-pregnancy weight. Here are the ranges for healthy pregnancy weight gain:
|Pre-pregnancy BMI||Healthy Weight Gain Range|
|Underweight||less than 18.5||28 to 40 pounds|
|Normal weight||18.5 to 24.9||25 to 35 pounds|
|Overweight||25 – 29.9||15 to 25 pounds|
|Obese||30 or more||11 to 20 pounds|
While these are considered the “healthy” ranges for weight gain in pregnancy, the reality is that every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. Some normal-weight women may only gain 20 pounds during pregnancy and struggle to put on weight. Some women may put on 40-60 pounds during pregnancy. The range of actual weight gain during pregnancy is quite diverse.
How quickly you lose weight will depend on many things, including how much you have to lose.
Not only this, but most sites will tell you that the postpartum period lasts for 6 weeks after birth. This is only partly true. There are actually 3 phases of the postpartum period. The first phase can last 6 to 12 weeks, the second is an additional 2 to 6 weeks, and the last one is 6 months.
1.) Weight loss immediately after giving birth
Most women start to get excited about losing the “baby weight” and wonder how much weight do you lose after giving birth.
Birth is a huge trauma to your body. Your body literally contracts and squeezes to push a several pound baby out from between your legs.
All of your organs need to settle back into place and your muscles are often separated or stretched, like in the case of diastasis recti and pelvic floor conditions. Basically, you need time to rest!
Before you get excited about weight loss at the beginning of the postpartum weight loss timeline (giving birth), there are no hard and fast rules about how you can expect to lose weight. Many women go home from the hospital having dropped 15 pounds from their highest pregnancy weight. Some only lose a couple.
Because I was on an IV and basically immobile for 3 days before giving birth to my first son, I had extra water weight and, even though I gave birth to a 7 lb 6 oz baby plus all the extra water and placenta, I only dropped 2 pounds once we made it home.
This is not uncommon to not lose weight immediately after birth.
Generally, you can probably expect to lose the baby’s weight plus weight of the placenta and amniotic fluid after coming home from the hospital, so you’re going to be looking at an expectation of about 10.6 pounds depending on a variety of factors.
2.) Average Weight Loss 6 Weeks Postpartum
In the postpartum weight loss timeline, the next time period is between when you give birth and 6 weeks postpartum. There are other weight stores during pregnancy that should decrease after you give birth, like extra fluid (2.6 pounds), blood (2.6), and your uterus shrinking back down. (It’s common to know that our uterus stretches to accommodate baby, but did you know that it actually grows by an additional 2 pounds?!)
You have about 7 more pounds to lose there.
In addition, after making it home from the hospital or birthing center, there are several factors to take into account:
- You can’t exercise.
- You’re probably going to be sitting at home doing tending to a little one for the next few weeks.
- You can eat healthy, nutritious foods.
Typically after giving birth, both vaginally and via Cesarean, you have to wait at least 6 weeks to get the okay to work out. After giving birth, you basically have a football sized scab on the inside of your uterus that needs time to heal. If you don’t wait to exercise, you could start bleeding again or make it worse.
The good news is that you’re actively eating well and doing light exercise like walking, you can probably count on losing an additional 1-2 pounds per week for the first 6 weeks postpartum.
I’ve known women to lose all 30 pounds of their pregnancy weight in the first 4 weeks after giving birth, and I’ve also known women to lose none. This is also very common and dependent on a lot of factors. Make sure you’re eating well, hydrating, and moving slowly but frequently, like taking walks with your little one when you’re ready.
Between tissue that will start to restore to its pre-pregnancy weight and size and potential for eating healthy, you might realistically lose anywhere between 7 and 18 pounds in 6 weeks.
3.) Postpartum Weight Loss After 6 Weeks
The final period in the postpartum weight loss timeline is after the 6 week mark. This is because after 6 weeks, you generally get the okay from the doctor to exercise again.
Once the doc or midwife gives you the okay to work out, ease into it! They say that much of your fitness ability postpartum depends on what kind of fitness you did while you were pregnant.
If you didn’t exercise much, then definitely take it slow. If you’re like these women who run a marathon 7 months pregnant, you can probably get back into it pretty quick.
Fitness can really propel your postpartum weight loss. Of course, there’s much more to it than calories in, calories out. But building muscle actually increases the rate at which you burn calories, so building muscle through working out actually does double the calorie-burning work! Pretty cool!
Still, weight loss is going to slow down as you get close to your goal weight.
Not only that, but muscle weighs more than fat. As you work out and put on muscle, you may notice your pants fitting looser without the scale budging.
You may want to take to measuring your waist, as it’s often a more accurate representation of our fat loss.
Losing weight slow and steady is the best way to do it, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Think 1-2 pounds of fat per week. It’s all about finding balance between losing fat and maintaining enough caloric intake to stay healthy.
How Breastfeeding Affects Your Postpartum Weight Loss Timeline
Are you breastfeeding? This may help or hinder your weight loss plans. There’s no hard and fast rule for breastfeeding and weight loss. Many women find that their body holds onto fat during breastfeeding and others find that the weight falls right off.
Breastfeeding means that you need to consume extra calories during the day. In fact you need at least 300 extra calories, and even up to 600 extra calories! Breastfeeding mothers should not consume less than 1500 calories a day.
As a nutrition coach, I focus more on getting proper nutrition and being healthy and letting my body take care of the rest. But if you like counting calories, check out the optimal calorie consumption charts on Parents.
Postpartum Weight Loss Timeline – Personal Chart
This is an updated version of the postpartum weight loss chart that I used after I gave birth to my second son. It is designed that you can plan how many pounds you’d like to lose per week and then track your weight loss to compare and help you get to your goal weight.
You can make the chart for as many weeks as you’d like, but I’ve included 10 weeks on the chart.
The first part is to plan your weight loss – what do you intend to lose? Fill it out when you come home from the hospital! The second part is to record what your actual weight loss is. Did you meet your goal?!
Want to get your hands on your own copy?
Just put in your info to get access to our Resource Library.
I hope you LOVE using it and are able to reach all your postpartum weight loss goals!
O’Toole, M.L, Sawicki, M.A., and Artal, R. Structured Diet and Physical Activity Prevent Postpartum Weight Retention. Journal of Women’s Health. (2003) https://doi.org/10.1089/154099903322643910
Montgomery, K.S., Bushee, T.D., Phillips, J.D. et al. Women’s Challenges with Postpartum Weight Loss. Maternal Child Health J 15, 1176–1184 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-010-0681-9
Jarlenski, M.P., Bennett, W.L., Bleich, S.N., Barry, C.L., Stuart, E.A. Effects of breastfeeding on postpartum weight loss among U.S. women, Preventive Medicine, 69, 146-150 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.09.018.
Rasmussen, K.M., and Yaktine, A.L.. Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines. (2009). National Academies Press.
Weight Gain in Pregnancy. BabyCentre Medical Advisory Board. https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a554810/weight-gain-in-pregnancy
Postpartum Weight Loss Timeline (and Downloadable Chart)
*Updated April 19, 2021