Can’t Lose Baby Weight? 5 Medical Reasons for Weight Gain or an Inability to Lose Weight After Pregnancy

Gaining baby weight is easy, it’s losing it that’s a challenge. As a mother of four, I know how it feels to try so hard to lose baby weight, to do all the right things from diet to exercise, and to lose nothing. Hopping on that scale every day and seeing the same or even higher numbers is a heart-breaking experience. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to recognize that there are medical reasons you may not lose baby weight after a pregnancy or may even gain weight. It is entirely possible your weight problems are not entirely your fault.

Can't lose baby weight?

The following medical explanations can be found for weight gain after pregnancy or an inability to lose weight despite rigorous exercise and a balance diet.

Becoming a mother responsible for the life of another being is unquestionably an exciting yet stressful situation. Many new mothers and even mothers having subsequent children find themselves under a great deal of stress.

Stress triggers a chemical reaction in the body hardwired from ancient times when stress usually meant mortal peril. This response releases certain hormones, including cortisol, that can increase appetite and cause the body to store more fat around the mid-section, which happens to be where most postpartum mothers have that lovely mom pouch. Many women also have formed a behavior tendency to eat in reaction to stress and may not even notice they’re doing so.

An estimated 49 percent of women experience some form of depression after pregnancy. Postpartum depression can range anywhere from a little case of the baby blues to postpartum psychosis. Depression after pregnancy can have a number of causes including hormonal changes, brain chemistry changes, lifestyle influences, stress, and genetics.

Just why depression often leads to weight gain or an inability to lose weight is not clear. Some studies suggest the same hormone linking stress to weight gain, cortisol, may be responsible. Others feel it’s that depression often causes a lack of motivation and drive, which can lead to less or less than properly-performed exercise. Depression may also lead to emotional eating.

Thyroid Problems:
Around 5 to 7 percent of all women experience thyroid problems after pregnancy. Called postpartum thyroiditis, this condition causes unstable levels of hormone production by the thyroid ranging from too much (hyperthyroidism) to too little (hypothyroidism).

While an overactive thyroid will result in baby weight loss, an under-active thyroid will result in weight gain. The overall instability of the thyroid in women with this condition can cause simply no weight change even with exercise and diet. Thyroid problems will sometimes resolve themselves after a pregnancy, but other times require treatment.

Hormonal Aftermath:
Pregnancy, labor, and what follows all have a dramatic effect on the body’s hormone balance. These fluctuations can cause all sorts of havoc including weight gain or an inability to lose weight. As many women consider a birth control method after pregnancy, this can also increase hormonal imbalances.

Hormones affect a woman’s metabolism. When they are unbalanced,  weight gain, loss, or inability to change ones weight can result.

Medical Syndromes:
Finally, there are also several syndromes that can cause weight loss issues that are not pregnancy related, but may become more prevalent during or after pregnancy including:

-Cushing’s syndrome, which also releases cortisol.
-Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes severe hormone imbalance.
-Syndrome X or insulin resistance, which causes hormone inefficiency.

This brief look at a few reasons you may be unable to loss weight or would even gain weight after a pregnancy is not meant to suggest you can’t lose weight after having your baby. You can do it, don’t give up hope. Rather it’s to address issues that may be standing in the way of your goals. Remember, it took 10 months to gain all that baby weight, give yourself at least that to lose it.

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