Pregnancy Might Not be the Reason You're Still Carrying Baby Weight

According to a new study, many new moms struggle to shake their baby weight for one important reason...and it has nothing to do with the physical changes of pregnancy.

Baby Weight Study Africa Studio/Shuttersock
If you're a few years postpartum and are still holding on to baby weight, it might be time to stop blaming your pregnancy. A new study suggests that there's another factor at work when it comes to those lingering pounds. 

Researchers from the University of Michigan looked at hospital records of over 32,000 women who had children between 2006 and 2013 to analyze their weight patterns. What they found was surprising: According to lead researcher Olga Yakusheva, PhD, women who had given birth within the past two years appeared to gain a similar amount of weight to those who did not. The difference? The women who had children gained weight faster. These findings were published in Women's Health Issues

But the researchers have a theory, and it has nothing to do with pregnancy's effect on the body—actually, it's about what happens after pregnancy.

"Mothers tend to put the needs of their children first, so they might not be exercising or taking care of themselves," Dr. Yakusheva said, according to a release for the study. "It might also be little things like finishing the food on their child's plate or spending more time sitting with their kids reading or watching a movie."

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According to the research, women who hadn't given birth gained about 1.94 pounds a year on average—on the other hand, women with children gained about 2.98 pounds a year. According to the researchers, this weight gain doesn't appear to be related to pregnancy based on weight patterns.

The good news? They have reason to believe that the weight gain might slow down at about five years postpartum, when children start school.

This does sort of make sense: Motherhood is crazy, and it can be really tough to cook healthy meals or sneak in gym time when you're so busy parenting. Our advice? If these findings have you worried, you could always try sneaking in some at-home workouts or even giving mother/child fitness classes a try. (Hey, it's never too soon to introduce your kids to those healthy habits!)