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Weight Loss After Childbirth

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Pregnancy & Childbirth > Weight Loss After Childbirth


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8 months later, I still haven't lost the weight

May 2008

HI, I have been having lots of problems since i gave birth nearly 8 months ago. Although i have extensive knowledge in nutrition and i know how to eat healthy, i gained a tremendous amount of weight during my pregnancy. Now 8 months on, i still havent lost the weight, despite eating less calories, less carbs, and breastfeeding. My exercise is about 3 times a week running/walking uphills, taking walks with the stroller, and looking after my son. No matter what i do i cannot shift this 30 pounds. I am STILL loosing alot of hair although it has been 8 months and am quite blue at times. so i am getting suspicious that maybe this pregnancy and birth/caesarean has altered my hormones and endorine system. Does anyone know of a doctor that specializes with post pregnancy and hormones. It is very unhealthy to walk around with such excessive weight and to be quite frank i am scared to have a second child as this may only exacberate the problem. Please someone help me as i know my metabolism has completely shut down and i need a doctor who is sympathetic to this..............thanks a bunch michelle


go see an endocrnologist. I see dr. eng but she's on maternity leave. Her partner/s are great. Dr. Grace Eng 350 30th Street Suite #320 Oakland, California 94609 Phone: (510) 465-6700 Fax: (510) 465-7765 been there
Please have your thyroid checked. You may have hypothyroidism. This is VERY common in women esp. after childbearing.Weight gain is a symptom of low thyroid (also being cold, hoarse voice, constipated, enlarged tongue, anxiety, brittle nails, hair falling out, depression...but not necessarily all of these). If you are low thyroid it is easily corrected with thyroid hormone...natural or synthetic. Many many women have low thyroid (me). I bet lots of people respond to your post saying check your thyroid. Good luck,..hope your weight comes off soon after back to normal weight mom
Ask your doctor to test your thyroid levels. Read up on hypothyroidism to see if the symptoms match yours. From your description, many of them do. Good Luck
Hello, I think you should definitely get advice and input from a doctor, particularly regarding the hair loss (which sounds pretty normal, actually) and the blues (which is something to worry about).

As for your metabolism, it's perfectly normal for metabolism to slow down as you get older. You say you are decreasing your calories, which is fine, but if you want to boost your metabolism, exercise is the way to get there. You say

''My exercise is about 3 times a week running/walking uphills, taking walks with the stroller, and looking after my son. No matter what i do i cannot shift this 30 pounds.''

You don't say how long you are exercising, but current recommendations are for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. I live in the hills, and the thing I must say about my own running in the hills is that while I am huffing and puffing going up hill, my heart rate drops below the aerobic threshhold while going downhill. I wear a heart rate monitor, so I know where I am at all times. I am amazed at how long it takes me to get into the aerobic zone (5 minutes, going uphill). So, for a 30 minute workout in the aerobic zone, I usually need to spend at least 40 minutes, with warming up and going downhill. I am exercising vigorously 5 days a week (40 minutes 2 days, 30 minutes 1 day, and 75 minutes 1 day) and 18 post pregnancy months later I am very, very slowly chipping away at my remaining 5 pounds (like a pound a month, but those last pounds are the hardest). From previous experience, I know it would make a huge difference if I could lift weights twice a week. (Muscle burns more calories even when you are resting, and you also look slimmer with muscle weight even if the numbers are the same.)

So I'd suggest definitely talking to your doctor, but also consider realistically assessing how much exercise you are getting and consider lifting weights. If there's nothing wrong with you, this is a better option that taking drugs or other substances to boost your metabolism. And I am a huge fan of the heart rate monitor! Most models will give you a calorie count, and mine gives me an exercise program and stores a little diary of this weeks accomplishments.

I was loosing hair for quite some time after the baby, and over time that seemed to slow down. boosting metabolism is hard work


6 months post-partum and still overweight

Sept 2007

So, here it is: I joyfully gained 60 lbs. during my pregnancy...I gave in to all of my cravings. My daughter is six months now and I am stoill 30 lbs. overweight. A bit of myself:
- I eat rather well, with lots of vegetables and some fruits,
but do go through the occational ''stress binge eating''
- am still breastfeeding
- although I do walk everyday, my mobility is somewhat restricted since I suffer from chronic pain. When not pregnant or breasfeeding, I'm on painkillers. ''baby boot camp'' is out of the question.

I've heard alot that by this time I should have lost a more significant amount of weight. What are your stories out there mamas? thanks! anon


Stick with it, we all stress binge eat - I think its part of being a woman. Breast feeding will keep some extra weight on you, my OB says you can lose 15 lbs in water weight after you stopping breast feeding. Give yourself another 6 mths and keep as healthy of a life style as you possibly can. Only a few can lose all the baby weight in 4-6 mths. You can do it. helen
All I can say is that I gained about 70lbs. 50 on a bunch of drugs trying to get pregant for 2 years, then 20 while I was pregnant. My daughter is 10 months old now, and I still have about 30 lbs to go. I was a runner before I got pregnant, but injured myself and haven't really been able to exercise like I used to--but we do take a lot of walks and I eat really well. It takes time. I have definitely not lost the weight as fast as some people--but my friend who gained 80lbs (complications) has just lost all of her weight and her baby is 2. If you gain more, it takes longer to lose--especially if you aren't able to spend a lot of time doing hard core exercises. I have to believe it will happen though :)--and I just wanted to let you know that not everyone loses it all overnight--just the moms who talk about their weight loss! anon
Your body's primary goal right now is to feed your baby. While some women seem to lose the pregnancy weight early on, in the long haul breastfeeding puts weight loss on the back burner. Feed your baby first; worry about weight loss when your body is yours again!
I also gained 60 lbs with both of my pregnancies. I chose to think in terms of ''9 months on -- 9 months off'', and this was very true with the first baby. Second one has been more difficult. You say you can't exercise, but walking is exercise. Make sure you walk for at least 45 minutes and do it most days a week. If you are not able to exercise at all, you simply have no choice but to limit your food intake in order to lose weight. I would definitely make an effort to lose the weight while you are still breastfeeding. Nursing in itself is like being on a diet since it creates a caloric deficit of about 500 calories a day (I believe). Been there.
Your story sounds a lot like mine. I, too, packed on 60 pounds during pregnancy. It was disconcerting. Again like you, I dropped the first 30 during the first few months and then sort of hit a plateau. I ate a normal, generally healthy diet with small, but not tiny portions. I breastfed for 15 months. I walked a good deal and bicycled occasionally. The rest of the weight did come off naturally, but I did not reach my original weight until my son was about 18-20 months old.

During that time, I watched many of my friends with children the same age drop the pounds rapidly. It was undeniably frustrating. And there were a lot of little plateaus where I thought that I this was it. I do believe that I could have accelerated the weight loss if I had added an actual exercise routine, but that simply was not a high enough priority.

So I chose to just let my body take its time to find itself again. It did take its time, but it did get there.

Congratulations for what you have accomplished, and best wishes (and patience) for the rest that is before you. - *finally* back to normal


Nine months up, nine months down. It really did take me nine months to fit back into my old jeans after my son was born. Though they don't fit the same and probably never will again. Oh well
You're doing great! You're halfway there. Adding protein and fiber to your rice and vegetables, might help reduce your binge eating. One binge of 3000 calories can wipe out two weeks of a reduced-calorie diet. I find that vegetarian chili with extra chili is surprisingly filling and satisfying, yet low in calories. Maybe after your diet is organized and after you've lost another ten pounds, you might feel well enough to start weight lifting or bicycling. Walking is good for now, but eventually you'll want to work out your upper body, too. Calorie Counter
I had the same problem, even the ''slight'' eating binges. I would gain normal weight (25-30 pounds) during my pregnancies and would lose 90% right after delivery. BUT I would start gaining again about one month after giving birth even though I was exclusively breastfeeding. I breastfed for almost 7 years for my three kids. It was not until I stopped with my 3rd that I started losing weight. I thought I was unique (or strange) but I have read other posts on this network which points to the fact that not all women are the same. Some of us just don't lose weight when we breastfeed. Just keep doing what you're doing and the weight will eventually start to come off. Good luck and don't despair! ARA
Let me start by saying I hate that phrase ''nine months on, nine months off''. What a load of BS. And the other myth that somehow BF miraculously takes off the pounds. I BF and felt GREAT, and then after 12 months, I don't have the baby weight off. OH, WELL. Every person is different, just like our babies. After all, baby is 6 months old, give YOURSELF a break. Oakland Mama
something i have noticed is many longer term breastfeeding mamas hold onto some of the weight until about 2 years postpartum, then that last 10-20# comes off. think about it: right now you are providing the most milk for your baby, since she's probably just starting solids, or about to. i think most 6mos old babies are getting a quart of milk a day! so your body wants to hold onto some of that weight to make sure you can continue to provide for her.

you may want to add trace minerals to your diet (concentrace is one brand), since often we are hungry for the nutrients, not really the calories. make sure you are eating veggies, meat, whole grains, and minimize the refined flours/sugar (cake/bread), but eat to your appetite.

but as long as you are listening to your body when you eat, you'll be fine. when baby needs your milk less, the weight will come off. signed: be patient, it will come off! (and then you'll have another...)


My child is 5 and I am finally back into my pre-pregnancy size. Not the same clothes, because my body is waaaaay differently shaped. No more low riders for me! I exercise pretty regularly (3 times/week) and pay attention to what I eat. Don't let anyone fool you. It can take a long time to get the weight off. I didn't have the energy to really exercise well until my child was at least 1 and probably closer to 2. Not enough sleep. Don't be too hard on yourself. When your kid is older you will have time to think about yourself again. That may sound horribly old-fashioned, but you will never have this babytime back so soak it all up. Just concentrate on being healthy for now and being a hottie later. You can do it, but only when you have lots of help to take care of your child. Talk to your doctor about the pain. I had pain on and off for a year, but maybe you don't have to. back to normal
i didn't lose significant weight til i stopped pumping midday when baby was 1yo. i'm noticing a decreased appetite now that i've night-weaned and pretty much dropped all nursing except pre and post sleep and after work.

I've lost almost none of my pregnancy weight

Jan 2007

I need your help! I had a baby nine months ago and I have lost almost none of the pregnany weight. At my six week apt, I had lost 20 of the 40 pounds that I gained. Since then I have exercised regularly and eaten very well and I have GAINED 15 of the pounds back! So....any advice? Some things to know: I do breastfeed, now only two times a day. I do have low thyroid and take medicine for it. My primary care doc at Kaiser hasn't been helpful at all and I am at a total loss. I am trying to get an appt with an endocrinologist. Any advice that you have (aside from....''it will take time'') will be helpful! Thanks! Sarah


I was up 35 pounds after my son was born. I did not lose my final 15 pounds until after I stopped breast feeding. While I was breastfeeding I was exercising, eating well, etc, but I just stopped losing weight. After I stopped breastfreeding the weight came off. My Dr. told me that in about 25% of cases, women's metabolism drop during breast feeding makes it really really tough to lose any weight (and that I was just one of those people). I am not, by the way, suggesting that you stop breast feeding. More just suggesting that your weight may be something you really cannot control until after that phase of your life is past. Glad to be back to normal!
This will sound silly but once I switched my desk chair for a yoga ball all of my muscles started to firm back up and my clothes began to fit better. It still took a while for me to lose weight and for that to happen I had to practice extreme portion control. If you are still nursing you need your strength! good luck
Hi. I feel your pain. My weight loss stalled after having my second baby. Although I didn't gain, I couldn't lose the last ten pounds of weight. What happened with me is that I lost everything quickly once I completely stopped nursing when my son was ten months. I am definitely not encouraging you to give up nursing, but I do want to give you some hope that when you do stop nursing, it may be much easier for you to lose the weight. anonymous
Don't be so hard on yourself! I didn't start to lose the baby weight until I stopped breastfeeding. I believe your body holds on to the fat while you're breastfeeding. So, I gave myself permission to not worry about losing the weight until after I had weaned my baby. Elaine
I couldn't lose the last lbs. until I started getting enough sleep. Go easy on yourself for a bit longer.

Losing post pregnancy weight

June 2006

I had my second baby 9 months ago and still have 15-20lbs to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. With my first, it took awhile to lose the weight, but I was not 15 lbs over at 9 months. I am nursing still, but my baby eats solid foods regularly. I probably nurse her 4-5 times a day. I run for exercise, though probably not enough (3 times a week for 30-60 minutes at a slow pace), and I do not ''diet.'' My question is: do I just need to be patient for the weight to come off with time and weaning, or do I need to up the exercise and reduce the calories? anon


If you are still nursing, I wouldn't worry about the extra 15 pounds. Every person is different, but when I was nursing my son I carried an extra 17 pounds the entire time, despite exercising to lose it, and then it all came off quickly once he was weaned (at 14 months). My body seemed to need the extra weight for nursing. Maybe yours does, too mere
Wow, it sounds like you're doing a lot of the right things already. The only suggestion I might make is try to increase the amount of protein you eat, reduce the number of carbohydrates (refined carbs), and drink a lot of water. These simple changes will make a huge difference in a very short time. You don't have to go full ''Atkins'' but trust me, tipping the balance toward more protein, less carbs will make a huge difference. You are already exercising and nursing so I don't think that is the issue. I would try the foods you eat - just small modifications will make a big impact anon
More exercise, fewer calories. I joined Weight Watchers when in the same boat as you and that's the basic premise. I felt I needed the support that the meetings offered and the routine of tracking my intake and output. But, if you're disciplined, you can do it on your own. -It works
Don't worry about it. It took me about a year after my first one and two years after my second and I am very active/vigorously exercise 3-4 times a week. If you are nursing then your body holds onto some body fat in order to produce your milk. It will come off when you wean. It would probably take me 3 years after another
You should get in on the Partum Me! classes in the East Bay or something similar. This help me safely exercise during the first 1 to 2 postpartum years and helped me get a cardiovascular plan, too. The support of other women in the group is also helpful. Check out class details at http://www.partummemom.com Good luck! Afifa
I didn't lose the majority of my post-pregnancy weight until I stopped breast feeding. I had always heard that breast feeding helped one to lose weight (all that energy going to create breast milk) so was kind of baffled by it. As it turns out, my Dr. said that for some women the decline in metabolism that happens when you are breast feeding kind of outpaces the extra energy you need to make the milk. So you don't lose weight, and you don't get your metabolism back till you stop breast feeding. I am definitely NOT suggesting one stop breast feeding in order to lose weight. But if you are anything like me, you may have to accept that the weight will not really come off until after you are done with that phase with your child. I don't think this is uncommon (my Dr. said it was not uncommon) You may just have to wait...
Hi, I think it is harder to lose weight with each successive pregnancy (which may be pregnancy or aging, I'm not sure.) I've had 3 babies. The first time I didn't do anything but nurse and the weight came off. The second, I had to exercise in addition to nursing. The third, I was nursing, exercising and finally had to go to Weight Watchers to get it off.

Weight Watchers is a really good program because really it is about paying attention to what you eat. I don't know about you, but I was so hungry when nursing that I would eat mindlessly. WW has the point counting system that lets you pretty easily tally your consumption without counting calories. The points are engineered to penalize high fat foods and reward high fiber foods.

I joined online. At the time I joined, online memberships weren't allowed if you were nursing. I don't know whether this is still true. I found out that the in-person program just adds 10 points to your daily point allowance if you're nursing full time, and emphasizes drinking enough water. I ended up doing the online program and just adding the 10 points myself. The online community has bulletin boards that are very helpful, mostly, bordering on a bit obsessive. (I think some people literally live on those bulletin boards.) But anyway, it's a really good program for losing weight in a sensible, healthy way ww alum


I think you have to diet. I don't see why you'd lose weight after you wean as then you'll be burning fewer calories anon
I had trouble losing weight after my second child who is now two and I still have five pounds that I would like to lose (don't we all!). The weight for my first child came off in one year. I don't diet either and I eat a healthy diet but I do have a sweet tooth and I couidn't seem to lose the last 10 lbs so six months ago I decide I had to change some things. I couple of simple things was no fancy coffee drinks, no juices and no wine with dinner, just water or coffee with 1% milk. These things you don't really miss. I also only snack on fruit but otherwise haven't changed my meals because they are pretty healthy. I often would graze when my kids snacked on crackers, cheese, yogurt but no more, those little snacks add up. Then I pumped up my cardiovascular excersize - I either went for longer period of time or I got my heart rate up higher than ususal. I also increased my weight training to boost my metabolism. Even thought I still have 5lbs to go I am much fitter and my body is much, much toner anon
Give yourself more time. It took nine months to put on the weight, and yes, your kid is nine months old now, but you are nursing, and your body is not done yet with its changes. I'd wait until you wean, and then see what's what.

I know it can be frustrating, and I understand the desire to have your body ''back.'' But we have the bodies our children gave us, now! Good Luck Donna


Patience alone is not going to peel off the pounds! Yes, you have to up the exercise and reduce the calories. It just depends how much of a hurry you're in. I'm in the same situation but am waiting until weaning because I am just not in a rush. I've lost most of the weight just through breastfeeding but those last 15 are stubborn aren't they? Same boat.
Weight loss after pregnancy can be really frustrating for a lot of women. But there is good news. First off, remember that not all of your extra body weight is stored fat. You're still operating a milk factory, and that means you are carrying a lot more fluids in your body, as well as the additional infrastucture. In actuality, probably only about half of that 15 pounds or so is extra stored fat. Because you are running between 90 and 120 minutes a week, you are getting enough aerobic exercise to effectively burn fat as fuel. You don't say how long you've been doing this routine, but once you have acclimated to this exercise load, you'll need to vary the intensitiy of your workouts to maximize effectiveness. Add short intervals of faster running, small hills to your route, staduim steps, or the like. Or, add 15 minutes of core and upper body strength training onto a 45 minute run. Healthy bodies have a good lean mass ratio, so building muscle is just as important as losing excessive fat.

My guess is that you haven't seen much movement on the scale because you have been building muscle mass in proportion to your fat burning, and this is in fact an ideal situation, as it improves lean mass ratio and raises basal metabolism.

As to diet/calorie comsumption, your goal is to maximize health, both for you and your baby. Eat the highest quality diet that you can; lots of fresh veggies and fruit, whole grains, lean protein sources and enough calcium. No junk food, soda, trans fats, highly processed foods, simple carbs/sugars, food colorings and preservatives.

Next, focus on quantity. Eat caloric balance every day. To estimate your metabolic needs, my web site has that you can use as a guide. Log on to www.befitmom.com, select Prenatal and Postpartum fitness and exercise, then click on Postpartum weight loss and scroll down to the chart. Since your baby is already eating solid foods regularly, add 300 calories rather than 500 to account for nursing.

The fact that you're a mom of two and have a fit, active lifestyle is to be commended. Keep your focus on health and you will succeed not only for yourself, but will create a fit, healthy lifestyle for your children to emulate as well. Helene


Weight loss 9 months after having a baby

May 2005

I am hoping that someone out there has gone through what I am going through and can tell me what happens next. I had a baby 9 months ago. I just stopped breastfeeding fulltime, but still do a couple of times during the late night and morning. I had a cesarean and began to exercise seriously 2 months after I gave birth. I exercise at least 4 days a week for an hour in a high intensity workout, and often 5 days a week. My weight just won't come off. I weighed myself the other day and I had actually gained weight from the last time I weighed myself. I know that muscle weighs more than fat, but my face looks as fat as ever and I don't think that's muscle. I did drop a size, but after all of this work I am really getting desperate. If I knew there was hope or if someone has any suggestions I would really appreciate it. People tell me that my body will never be the same, but I just won't accept it. I know I shouldn't worry so much about it, but I want my body back - and I will work hard to get it. Thank you for your help, Tara. T


Since you're already exercising, it most likely is your diet. I had the same problem until I really (honestly) starting tracking what I was eating - by writing it all down. I didn't realize how much I was eating! I stopped breastfeeding after 8 months, but my eating habits stayed at a level to still support the breastfeeding, so I was taking in too many calories. When I really looked at this honestly, I knew I was just eating too much. 3500 calories = 1 lb. So even 100 calories/day more than you need will be an extra 10lbs at the end of the year. It really adds up. If you can modify your diet, then you'll see a world of difference with that level of activity. It worked for me; I've dropped 26+ lbs since my 6 week checkup (my son is 1 year old now). Also, give yourself time. You will get there because you are motivated! Good luck! Fit Mom in Berkeley!
Your situation is not at all uncommon. Many women will hold onto their pregnancy fat reserves until they wean completely. And when you think about this, it makes sense. We store extra fat during pregnancy as an ''insurance policy'' so that no matter what, (fire famine, flood) that our bodies will be able to provide for our babies. Emptying the pantry while nursing does not make biological sense. Most women still have a ''mommy body'' at nine months postpartum. I know I did. Here's what you can do to help speed things up.

First, realize that for the first 15 to 20 minutes of moderately strenuous aerobic exercise that you are primarily burning glycogen (stored carbohydrates) as fuel. Only when you use up most of the readily available fuel, does your body go into the pantry and start to burn stored fats as fuel. For fat loss, aerobic exercise should be 40-60 minutes in length. Or, to speed things up you can work at a higher intensity, (but still in your aerobic zone, no panting) which will increase the rate at which you use up both glycogen and fats, and burn more total calories per workout.

Second, consider adding strength training to your fitness routine. Increased muscle density will not only make you firmer and smaller, but will help to raise your basal metabolism. Do as much standing strength training as possible. If necessary, hire a personal trainer for a session or two to teach you how to use free weights or body resistance exercises to build muscle density. Plopping yourself down on a machine, where you do not need to support your spine or body weight, is not the best way to go. Third, to help speed weight loss, add lots and lots and lots of raw fruits and veggies to you diet. Particularly foods that require a lot of chewing. These foods add bulk, without a lot of calories, helping you to feel full after a relatively low calorie meal.

On the flip side, cut out all junk, highly processed carbs, all trans fats (this is really important for weight loss), foods high in saturated fats, and refined sugars-- including alcohol. And lastly, remember that this process of ''de-evolution'' is naturally a slow one. A lot will simply depend on your genetics, as well as previous fitness level and age. Scales don't give use much useful information, i.e., our lean mass ratio, how much fluids we are carrying, (nusing moms carry a lot) so don't get hung up on a number that is not helpful. You mentioned that you have lost a dress size, that's significant! Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it. Helene Byrne author, ''Exercise After Pregnancy: How to Look and Feel Your Best''


Add weights to your workout. Cardio is great for many things, but weights can really rev up your metabolism. -skinny mamma
I did not lose very much weight until I stopped breastfeeding. My Dr. told me that this is not uncommon (said it was a ''one in four'' type of situation). Some women have a really low metabolism while breastfeeding, and don't get back to normal till they stop.

The other thing I did was to excercise, and to substitute a protein shake in the morning for my usual breakfast (used to eat a bagel or some other kind of carb). It is fantastic that you are exercising so much. Best way to lose weight! Took a while, but then it came off


Hi! You sound very motivated to workout and maintain good health, so you're half way there. I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Pilates Instructor and it sounds as though you could make a few small changes to your current diet and exercise routine to make a difference. There was a question like this a few weeks ago and several respondents pointed out that many women retain a few extra pounds until they stop breastfeeding altogether. I'm not recommending that you stop breastfeeding, but I have heard the same thing repeatedly from other women and it may just explain why the weight is not coming off.

Any good fitness professional will know that I can't give personal advice to you without knowing more, but there are some general reasons for weight plateaus that might apply. Such as, maintaining the same fitness routine for too long, so your body has adapted and ceased to respond to your workouts. You may need to add more strength training to increase muscle mass, or perhaps you're already doing a lot of strength training and you could use more cardio-respiratory training. You may be eating at times of the day that are causing your body to retain calories rather than letting go of them. A food journal is a great way to really take a hard look at what, when, and why you are eating.

I'd say it's true that a woman's body is never quite the same after giving birth, but I don't think that means we have to settle for a body we don't see as healthy. It sounds like you're working out a sufficient amount, so the trick is to change the distribution of calories consumed and/or make the workouts smarter in order to get the result you want. Good luck and be healthy! Alonn, FitnessforParents.com


First of all, muscle does NOT weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. Muscle just takes up less space. Please don't be so focused on the number on the scale. You did mention after all that you dropped a clothing size! Instead of watching the scale, concentrate on the fact that you're getting fit and toned. It sounds to me like you could really benefit from weight training. Just some light to medium weight training can do wonders for getting toned. Two or three sessions with a trainer can give you a great personalized workout that you can then follow. I also get tons of great ideas from the various fitness magazines out there. Be patient with yourself. You deserve some credit. You've made a huge committment to your fitness. Just tweak your workout a bit and you'll be fitting into smaller clothes in no time.
I have very much the same complaint, and I am working out cardio + strength training 3-4 hours a week. Sometimes more. I was just told by my internist that new studies are showing that 5-6 hours per week of exercise are what are needed for weight reduction. She recommended that I hire a personal trainer and I am going to try that. We also lined up some tests to see about thyroid performance. She also recommended Weight Watchers to get portion size under control. Leslie

How can I get rid of this last 7 pounds?

March 2005

Iíve been reading the archives about post-partum mommy belly but what I am experiencing is different. My skin isnít wrinkly; itís more like a spare tire around my middle. I can not seem to lose the last 7 pounds I gained during pregnancy. Now that my son is 2, I am really getting frustrated. I exercise regularly (cardio, weights, and Pilates mat classes) and eat well. No matter what I do or the intensity of my workouts, I still have these love handles and this roll over my waist band. And my thighsÖsigh. I have never had this much trouble getting into shape. Is it my age (late 30s)? Is it hormones (I had post- partum depression)? Is it because I am still nursing (2 times a day)? Do I need to see a nutritionist? Do I need a personal trainer? Or a personal trainer who is also a nutritionist? Help! I donít want to spend another summer feeling yukky about my body. And please, I donít need counseling about how I should love my body. Just practical advice to get rid of this 7 lbs. of fat. Love my body but not my spare tire


You are not alone in your frustration with trying to lose those last few ''baby pounds''. Lots of moms in their mid/late thirties and beyond struggle with the issue.

All three of the things that you mentioned may be playing a role. First off, everyone's metaboloism slowly winds down with aging, and this process starts in our twenties. We just don't start to notice it until our mid thirties or so.

And yes, your experience with postpartum depression may have effected your metabolism. Studies have shown that depression can lower metaboism, though the exact mechanism is not fully understood. Nursing just twice a day can also inhibit weight loss in some women. Think about it, by nursing, your body understands that your infant's nutritional needs are still dependant upon you. So it doesn't make sense, from a biological perspective, to ''empty the pantry''. My personal experience was that I held onto five extra pounds while I nursed, (until 22 mos.) and then after I weaned, lost the excess with out trying.

You should also remind yourself that not all of your 7 pounds is necessarily fat. Most likely, since you are still nursing, at least half of that or more is extra fluid, and will come off after weaning, like mine did.

Everyone has looser belly skin after pregnancy, and you are lucky that you do not have stretch marks or crinkled skin. But I do think it's possible that part of what you don't like about your tummy is caused by looser skin. After you wean, you could consider using Retin-A, (which is the only scientifically proven treatment) to increase the amount of collegan (the elastic fibers) in your skin. This will help make your skin firmer.

Since your body weight is stable, that means you are at caloric balance in your body. To lose weight you need to tip the scales in your favor. I think a consultation with a nutritionist is a good idea. She might be able to help you identify areas in your diet where you could trim calories without hunger or deprivation.

Since you work out alot, and have a varied routine, (which is good) I doubt that a personal trainer will be of that much help to you. And in the mean time, buy a one piece bathing suit, and have fun this summer. Helene


Spare tires, what a pain. Pregnancy changes our bodies forever. But 7 extra pounds while you are still nursing is definitely not something to despair over. If your skin is truly not stretched out and wrinkly, congratulations, you are in a minority of mommies. However, even if your skin is not stretched, often the muscle and the connective tissue of the belly wall is stretched so that your waist size has been increased, even if you don't have alot of loose skin. If you are back in pre-pregnancy clothes, and things seem tighter about the waist than before, that may be contributing to the appearance of a roll hanging over your wasteband. It is also possible that you just have gained some extra pounds around that tummy. For some women, nursing makes the weight ''fall off.''

Others of us are not that lucky. Some of us hold onto extra weight until we stop nursing, it is probably just a hormonal thing. Also, having a baby changes our living patterns in a huge way; we get less sleep, have less time to cook well, have less time to exercise, all of which contributes to holding extra weight. You could be suffering from a combination of the above.

My recommendations speaking as a woman over 40, the mother of 4, and a plastic surgeon is to relax if you can and enjoy your child. Even if you are taking the time to workout and eat right, you may be doing less than before the baby was born. Do what you can to get enough sleep, it is hard to lose weight when you are chronically sleep deprived. If you are trying to squeeze into those pre pregnancy jeans, buy a larger, more comfortable pair. If none of this works, see what happens when you wean. But your body has been changed by your pregnancy and motherhood. If you are still really unhappy about this roll, there are small surgeries that can help the situation, if you choose. I hope this helps. Elizabeth


Hi, It sounds like you're on the right track as far as leading a healthy lifestyle. I am an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Pilates Instructor and I think you could probably make just a few changes to loose the last 7 pounds. For example, even though you eat well, you could keep a food journal to take an objective look at your diet. Maybe there are certain foods you are eating more often than it seems, or eating at a certain time of day or night when you're not really hungry. Also, if you haven't already, you could add interval training to your cardio workouts. This can really increase the number of calories burned without making your workouts longer. You really can loose the weight if that's what you want. None of us should have to feel yucky about our bodies! Good luck! Alonn
I could not lose the weight I gained from my pregnancy for the life of me, and my husband kept saying ''well, you don't want to stop nursing, because that's at least burning extra calories.'' BUT sure enough, the minute I stopped nursing the pounds just fell off! It was incredible. And I did nothing else differently, same eating, same exercise. I think it was just my body stashing reserves for the feeding. Hope this turns out to be the case for you, too!
About the spare tire. First of all there is hope but you need to get started on a exercise program though because the longer you wait the harder it will be to take off the excess weight. I offer you first some tips as a personal trainer, certified Pilates instructor and certified Iyengar Yoga instructor and possible ways to get started. In my work I have never seen anything be as effective in a short period of time for the post-pregnancy 'spare tire' as Pilates. Now if you are taking mat classes it could be that you are not being closely monitored by your instructor meaning that for each and every exercise you initiate and engage the abdominal muscles in order to strengthen them. Often classes are too big for the teacher to maintain a certain level of control or they are Pilates based and not the original Pilates exercises which are more specific and thus effective. I would also suggest taking a few private lessons in order to get your individual needs assessed and then eventually you could move on to the group mat classes.

Also Power Pilates offers a video or DVD tape called the post-pregnancy workout developed by Susan Moran-Perich co-owner of Power Pilates, which she made shortly after giving birth (www.powerpilates.com). IT is an excellent companion for any private instruction since you could do some work at home on your own time and that helps bring the costs down. I would also talk to a nutritionist who could help you set up a diet plan in order to make sure you are getting the proper vitamins and minerals to take on an exercise program. I have seen many women get disappointed early on because they tried a variety of so-called inexpensive methods and what I call quick fix exercise programs. You have to be very disciplined and stick with something that focuses on strengthening the abdominal and lower back muscles and at the same time is not too strenuous for you being a mom with two kids, which is a very challenging period in your life.

It's also important to start working in a cardio routine of some kind. This can be even simply just taking your kids in the stroller and seeing that you have a brisk walking tempo. Or maybe think of investing in a stationary bike, again something you can do at your own pace and time schedule in your house. The truth is if it is too much of a challenge, i.e. getting to a class, finding a babysitter, etc. it just won't happen. Again that is why private instruction is great for motivation, individual needs and all around personal care that is determined by your schedule. Again it is worth it to spend some money right now into getting in shape and then you can be more able to maintain it later on your own. Best of luck!


I am also in my late 30's and was frustrated at not being able to budge the last 10 lbs after having my first child and I also exercise a lot and eat fairly healthily too. In the end I weaned my baby (when he was 14 months) and went on a diet and lost those 10 lbs and more fairly easily in just a few months. Good Luck Back in shape again
It may well be the breastfeeding. I think the body keeps a few extra pounds around for making milk. Wait until you wean. I was not able to put on my pre-pregnancy pants until I stopped breastfeeding. anonymous
I found that I didn't lose that spare tire until I was totally finished breastfeeding. So once you wean, that might be enough to see a difference. But honestly, whenever my weight fluctuates 5-8 pounds above my ideal post-pregnancy weight, it seems it accumulates more in my mid-section that before pregnancy. Lastly, while I'm hesitant to endorse faddish diets, I will say that the low-carb diet has been most effective for me personally for losing the mid-section fat. When I did it, I didn't eliminate all fruit or grains, but cut out all white grains, white rice, processed sugar, high-starch vegetables like potatoes, alcohol (especially beer!), and caffeine, and noticed a difference after about 3 weeks. Good luck! slightly dreading swimsuit weather, too

It's been over a year, with little shift in my weight

May 2002

I need advice and suggestions on how to battle very post pregnancy weight loss. I had a strange metabolic response to my pregnancy, where I inexplicably put on a huge amount of weight (70 lbs.) despite eating right, exercising and having no previous problems with weight gain. It has now been over a year since my child was born, with very little shift in my weight (again, still eating well, exercising, breastfeeding, etc). Needless to say, I feel hopeless and frustrated. I've run the gammut with blood tests, and could find no hormonal abnormalities. I'm open to all suggestions - accupuncture, natropathic, pharmaceutical,etc. Please let me know what's worked for those of you who had a pregnancy that transformed your metabolism. Thank You. anonymous


I gained 65 lbs with my first and 45 with my second (I just ate like crazy because I quit smoking when I got pregnant). Over the long run I ended up ''permanently'' keeping 5 pounds per kid (they are school-aged now). Other people told me I'd lose the weight when my child turned two, and that is pretty much what happened both times. I didn't diet or exercise a lot or do anything special. It more or less just started falling away. I think it is because I started to have a little more time to focus on myself - think about my career, indulge my hobbies, get out with friends more. Right around the age of 2-3 is when they start to be a little bit independent, go to preschool, play with other kids, so I think in my case it had to do with my being able to do more grown-up things rather than being a full-time nursemaid to Junior 24/7. That first year or two I felt like I was 100% mom and 0% woman, but gradually the woman part of the quotient ticked up and the weight ticked down. So if you can just hang on for a little while longer, I bet you will see a difference too. A Mom
In addition to being a tutor, I am a certified trainer, and I used to specialize in weight loss. The only exercise that promotes weight loss is moderate cardio vascular exercise done for at least 30 minutes at a time. Too many aerobic classes and personal workout regiments push too hard striving for exhaustion. These rigirous workouts only increase cardio fitness, and don't help with weight loss. Fast walking or slow jogging for 45 minutes to an hour is the type of exercise you should be doing. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. paul
Boy - did this one resonate with me! I put on over 60 pounds during my pregnancy and really had no excuses. I was just hungry and so I ate and ate. As I never really had a weight problem before I thought it would just dissolve after I had the baby. Big shock. 9 months later I still had 25 pounds to lose so I joined WeightWatchers which has a program for breastfeeding moms. It worked. It was really easy to follow and I lost the 25 pounds in about 6 months which is healthy for me and my daughter. Julie
I am in a very similar position--almost no weight loss 1 1/2 years later, despite my best efforts. I am trying more radical dietary changes--eliminating starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, and rice completely, in addition to eating lowfat foods and lots of vegetables. However, the thing that really seems to help noticably is lifting weights! I have been jogging, swimming, biking, walking, etc. 5-6 times a week, but weights seems to really help almost right away. I feel better and more toned the next day, and the stubborn scale is finally budging. I am still FAT but I have new hope. I am trying to get to the gym 2 times a week for it. You may have already tried this, but I thought I would mention it. I especially recommend working on the large muscle groups--legs, buttocks, abdominal muscles. I have been doing lots of squats and lunges. THis helps to raise the metabolism more than working on toning minor but perhaps more visible muscles (of course, NONE of them are visible on me anyway). If it makes you feel any better, I gained 120 lbs during my pregnancy and have only lost 35. Good luck to both of us--boy, it's a bummer. Plus, health care professionals can be shockingly scornful and judgemental, even nasty about it! And family members! Chubby Mummy
I am a layperson, so take my advice in the context of additional information. You say you've done blood tests...does that include testing the thyroid(test TSH blood level)? The thyroid affects metabolism and ''hyperthyroidism'' is the condition when your metabolism has slowed down. It has vague symptoms ''I'm cold, I'm tired, I'm depressed, I've gained weight'' etc. When combined all together and confirmed with blood tests, hyperthroidism is treatable. As you probably know, pregnancy can change how the thyroid functions. My info comes from the ''The Thyroid Sourcebook'' by M. Sara Rosenthal and thyroid disorders run in my family. Again, I could be way off, and you should talk with a doctor. The next thing I'd consider is exercise and lots of it. Good luck. I hope you feel better. Lissa
I can totally relate to your situation. My body did the same thing. During pregnancy, I ate well, exercised 3-4 times a week, and still gained 50 pounds - which all piled on at the very end of my pregnancy. My daughter is now 2 years 4 months, and I am just now getting close to my pre-pregnancy weight. I was totally unable to lose weight during nursing (which lasted almost 16 months), despite walking, post-natal areobics and all the other running around you do with a baby. My guess is that you are like one of the few of us who can't lose weight while nursing. After I stopped nursing, I lost 10 pounds almost immediately, and it's been very slowly coming off since then. I still have 15 pounds to go to return to my pre-pregnancy weight - which I have lost with pretty minimal effort (besides watching what I eat). My advice would be to wait and see what happens after your baby is weaned, and to keep doing exercise until then. I think I would have lost weight faster if I would have been exercising more post-nursing. good luck, and don't get too discouraged - It will come off! jen
Have you had the doctor check your thyroid? I think that I have heard that some women have thyroid problems post-pregnancy that causes them to gain weight and then have a hard time taking it off. Just a thought. JN
I sympathize with your weight gain. I had a similar experience (gained over 60 pounds). I lost 35 and then stalled out for two years. I've finally been losing it through Weight Watchers, which does really work. It's not fast -- I've lost about 20 pounds in 20 weeks -- but I'm pretty happy with that. anonymous
I am also having trouble losing weight. I think having a child totally changes your lifestyle which can be very stressful. I also find lifting weights to be very helpful and I want to mention an at-home program: the book is Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam Nelson and the website is Strongwomen.com anon
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