The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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The average newborn weighs approximately 7.5 pounds. But how many pounds will YOU weigh when you walk out of the delivery room? And how long will it take for you to get your pre-baby body back? While the timeline is different for every woman and is based on a number of factors—how much weight you gained while pregnant, whether or not you’re breastfeeding, your diet and exercise habits—there are certain weight-loss milestones you can mark on your calendar.
Women lose an average of 12 pounds almost immediately after giving birth. “You have the baby, lose blood, fluids, amniotic fluid,” says Sarah B. Krieger, MPH, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who does home visits with pregnant women and moms who have children up to age three. In this 24-hour period, your postpartum “pooch” is already starting to go down, she adds. In other words, a lot of that baby weight was…baby.
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You’re still “peeing out” a lot of the fluids, especially if you had an IV/epidural, Krieger says, meaning you’re still losing weight. But don’t get on a scale just yet, Krieger advises. “Focus on how your clothes fit instead of what the scale says,” she suggests.
Breastfeeding may also play a role in weight loss: While women are advised to consume an additional 500 calories a day if they are nursing, they often lose more weight after giving birth. “Women tend to lose more weight after birth if they are breastfeeding because breastfeeding consumes calories,” says Ashley Roman, MD, clinical assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. But Krieger notes that this isn’t true for everyone. “Some women may lose weight quicker than others whether or not they are breastfeeding,” she says.
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Krieger doesn’t think new moms should weigh themselves during the first two weeks, when you still might be establishing breastfeeding and “your hormones are starting to come down.” In other words, you’re still in that “baby blues” period where seeing an undesired number on the scale might send you straight into tears! Plus, she adds, “the number on the scale is usually not reflective of body fat, so don’t discourage yourself.” Krieger recommends measuring your waist with a measuring tape once a month to track inches instead of pounds.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but it’s common for new moms to lose as many as 20 pounds in the month after delivery, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Since most women are advised to gain 25-35 pounds while pregnant, one month later, you might be almost back to your pre-baby size!