Chances are you’ve heard the old adage “nine months on, nine months off”. It’s a phrase regarding postpartum recovery that garners a lot of… backlash. It suggests that since it takes your body nine months to grow a baby it should take you 9 months to lose the baby weight.
That can be taken one of two ways:
- As a positive reminder that you’re not meant to drop all that baby weight instantly and get back to those pre-pregnancy jeans in a month or two. Or,
- As a negative reminder that if you don’t lose the baby weight in 9 months, you’ve somehow ‘failed’ (which isn’t true).
But it’s dangerous to think of postpartum weight loss in such stark, standardized terms, because every woman’s body, circumstances, and experiences are different.
Maybe you’ll lose the baby weight in 4 months, or maybe 9 months, or maybe it will take a bit longer. Maybe you’ll never get back to your exact pre-baby weight, but if you’re working towards getting to a healthy weight range for your age and height, then you’re on the right track.
We won’t lie, though: that first year after birth is a critical time period when it comes to postpartum weight loss.
There’s a lot of research supporting the fact that losing the baby weight by your baby’s 1st birthday is really beneficial for your long-term health.
It’s not about a number on a scale — it’s about what’s going on inside your body. The study referenced above found that women who did not lose their excess baby weight within the first 12 months after birth were at a higher risk of cardiometabolic conditions (i.e. diabetes and high blood pressure) later in life.
Beyond that, not losing the baby weight in the first year can make it even harder to lose it in the long term, and that’s especially true if you’re planning on having more kids in the not-so-distant future. Multiple pregnancies can lead to cumulative weight gain over the years, especially if you don’t lose the baby weight in between pregnancies. And of course, starting another pregnancy while being overweight can put you at a higher risk for pregnancy-specific conditions (such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and longer labor).
We know you wouldn’t trade an ounce of that weight for having your children here with you. There is nothing bad or shameful about baby weight, it’s a necessary and natural part of having children. But while that baby weight helped you bring baby here, it no longer serves you. And you can be a healthier, more energized, and more vibrant you without it.
Of course, this is so much easier said than done, because there isn’t a quick solution for postpartum weight loss. It comes from a combination of hard work, clean nutrition, a regular exercise routine, balanced sleep, and a nurtured mental wellbeing.
The Baby2Body app is here to guide you through all of that with nutritious recipes and meal plans, meditations and wellbeing support, and personalized workout programs so you can achieve your healthy living goals.
To give you a framework to build from, here’s our quick month-by-month guide to helping you lose the baby weight in that first year postpartum, and gain more of yourself in the process:
Month 1: Your “Grace Period”
OK we put ‘grace period’ in quotes there, because as you all know those first few weeks after birth can be a real doozy. So we’re in no way saying this month is a ‘break’. But we want to encourage you to give yourself grace this month. Focus on surviving through the tough days and soaking up the sweetness of the newborn phase. You got this.
Month 2: Take Simple Steps
For most women, full exercise clearance comes about halfway through month 2. This month should focus on baby steps (pun semi-intended). Get outside for a walk 10 minutes a day, every day. If you can’t do that, march in place while rocking baby to sleep. Start at your baseline (whatever that is) and work on consistency.
Month 3: 3 Days A Week
Yep, we’re challenging you to get in the habit of working out 3 days a week this month. Even if it’s only a 20 minute workout, 3 days a week, that counts. This is about routine building and habit forming. If you want to do more, more power to you. But focus on establishing a 3-day-a-week routine, so you can maintain it for the months to come.
Month 4: Nail Down Your Nutrition
We’ve probably all heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”, and it is so true: postpartum weight loss relies heavily on your diet. Hopefully you’ve been prioritizing healthy eating thus far, but now is the time to make sure you’re nailing the basics: 5+ servings of fruit and veg a day; plenty of fiber and probiotics; and consuming whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats over their less healthy counterparts.
Month 5: Kick Up The Cardio
If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to build up your cardiovascular fitness. Any workout should get your heart pumping, but a proper cardio-focused workout at least once a week will really help your weight loss goals. Whether you choose to walk, run, do the elliptical, spin bike, or swim — start adding it in this month.
Month 6: Assess Your Progress
Keep up all the healthy habits but this month do a check in on your progress. It’s not about being on track or off track, it’s about checking in on where you’re at, how you’re feeling, and understanding what’s working and what’s not. What do you need to change or do more of to get to where you want to be?
Month 7: Dial In Your Diet
By this point if you’re feeling like you’re not losing weight as much as you’d hoped to, have a closer look at your diet. We’re not about fad diets or intense cleanses, but you may want to talk to your doctor about a different dietary lifestyle (paleo, keto, low-FODMAP, etc) that might suit your body better and help you manage any remaining baby weight.
Month 8: Work The Weights
If you’re seeing good results from your workout routine so far, but want to take it to the next level, now is a great time to introduce weight training. Make sure you know how to maintain proper form before introducing any heavy weights, but when done properly this is the best way to rebuild tone and develop muscle definition.
Month 9: Commit to It
Use this month to find the fitness, dietary, and wellness habits that work for you, your schedule, and your lifestyle and create a routine that you can commit to. By now you’ve learned that babies operate so much better when on a routine, and the secret is: we all do.
Months 10-12: Maintain, Maintain, Maintain
Once you’ve found what works for you, it’s all about maintenance and motivation. The best way to keep that up? Turn to your support networks: friends, family, other moms that can help cheer you on and keep you going strong. The Baby2Body Squad is our community of like-minded moms from all over the world, collectively committed to one thing: empowering each other. Join the Squad today.
If you haven’t already, be sure to download our iOS app and get personalized health and fitness coaching for pregnancy and motherhood.