Postpartum Weight Loss: Tips for the First 2 Weeks

With my fourth pregnancy I gained a whopping 43 lbs. So naturally, once I’d had that wee lass, I was itching to get started with my postpartum weight loss. However, as most new moms know, what you can do in those early weeks safely in a medical sense is pretty limited. I did find a few easy lifestyle changes that were perfectly safe immediately after pregnancy though. Then, thinking about it, I realized I have a parenting website, other moms would likely be interested in what did and didn’t work for me to lose those 43 lbs. I decided to document my weight loss journey from start to finish here on Life with Gremlins with reviews of products I tried, tips, and other fun stuff I learned along the way. So, here it begins, what I did in this first two weeks to lose weight after pregnancy.postpartum weight loss

Breastfeeding:

Pretty much everyone recommends breastfeeding, but what they don’t tell you is how freakin painful that first week can be. Between engorgement and sore nipples, I can see how lots of women call it quits, but if you needed one more reason to hang in there (it does get easier for most of us), how about sitting on your ass while losing weight? For realsies even, no advertising gimmick? Well, making a single oz of breast milk burns about 20 calories and your average newborn eats around 30 oz a day equating to roughly 600 calories burned every single day. To put that in perspective, running a 10-minute mile burns about the same calories—so just feeding your baby is like running a mile a day, minus the muscle tone and cardiovascular benefits of course.

Hydrate:

Next, I drank ungodly amounts of water. I hung on to that nifty hospital water jug and drank a minimum of three of them a day (which since the jug has measurements marked on it, I knew to be 90 oz.) Proper hydration not only helps you produce all that calorie-killing breast milk, but water does actually help you lose weight. How?

Water actually works in a few ways to aid in weight loss. First, dehydration will slow your metabolism, because nearly all body functions require water—that’s why our body is 70% water in the first place. Proper hydration also keeps your digestive system functioning tip-top to avoid constipation. Next, many people confuse thirst with hunger. A study in 2010 by Virginia Tech found that consuming water before meals helps you eat less—about 75 calories less per meal, which adds up quickly when you consider three meals a day (225 calories! remember how many calories running a mile burns?). Finally, another study in 2003 by the Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center in Berlin found that drinking cold water actually burns calories in itself despite water having no calories. In their study they estimated increasing your water intake 50 oz. a day (a cup is 8 oz) would equate to 5 lbs. of weight loss a year. So, drink up.

Fiber:

The last thing I did to help aid in weight loss after pregnancy was purchase myself a big container of water-soluble fiber off Amazon and added 2 tsp to each of those water jugs I drank. Fiber not only helps keep your poo soft and prevent constipation—which can literally be a pain if you’ve just had a baby—but it also helps you lose weight. Fiber helps the body maintain more stable blood sugar levels and more effectively eliminate fat rather than storing it.

Just by breastfeeding and drinking three 30 oz. jugs of water with fiber powder I went from 175 lbs to 151 in two weeks. Granted, some of that weight was likely from my 7.9 oz. baby, blood loss, and the placenta, but because I had preeclampsia, I couldn’t tell you how much. I actually weighed 1 oz more the day after my labor than I did when I went into labor from fluid retention. I can say I lost 3 inches off my just-got-home-from-the-hospital waist measurement in that two weeks with the 24 lbs.

I’d be happy to hear any tips other moms may have on losing weight after pregnancy as well, so don’t be afraid to drop us a comment.

Lumps in Armpits During Pregnancy or While Breastfeeding

Pregnancy is full of surprises, some of which can be a bit frightening. Towards the end of my first pregnancy, I began to notice lumps in my armpits. I suddenly realized I actually had what looked like armpit fat, so to speak, on both sides. They started small and slowly became larger. My immediate thought was the big C word– cancer. I was terrified, but I was also incorrect. While a lump in your armpit can be a sign of cancer, if it’s on both sides, especially while pregnant or breastfeeding, that’s not normally the case.lumps in armpits

What were the lumps in my armpits during my pregnancy actually caused by?

milk lines tail of spence lumps in armpits
My mid-wife explained that breast tissue actually extends well beyond what we call the breast. Breast tissue can run all the way from the armpit to the crotch in two lines called milk ridges. In some cases, there is an unusual amount of breast tissue in the armpit or tail of spence. This tissue is called Hyperadenia, or the presence of excess breast tissue without a nipple. During late pregnancy as the breasts prepare to lactate, this tissue forms milk glands and enlarges like so many other things during pregnancy. This enlargement was my lumps.

What happened to the lumps after I had my baby?

The lumps engorged with the rest of my breast after I had my baby. They were painful, baseball sized, and very swollen. However, once engorgement passed they resided to their usual size and remained intact until I stopped breastfeeding. Once I had fully weaned my baby and my milk supply disappeared, so did the lumps. They were not seen again until my second pregnancy. I was told this was normal.

Unfortunately, during my fourth pregnancy my armpit lumps actually developed small nipples and dripped milk like tiny boobs (you can read about that here). After that pregnancy I was left with lumps even after I weaned my baby. It’s currently been 3 years, and they are still there. They aren’t huge, but do seem impervious to weight loss and exercise alike.

How can I tell excess breast tissue from cancer?

You should make your health care provider aware of any lumps in the breast area whether after reading this article it sounds as if you have excess breast tissue to you or not. Until then, some signs a lump may be cancerous include the lump being hard, firm, indiscrete, and/or unable to be manipulated or moved. If the lump is soft, can be seen easily and/or has a matching lump on the other breast, it likely is not cancer, but you should still have it checked.

What if after engorgement the lumps in my armpits still hurt?

In rare cases, this auxiliary tissue will produce milk and not drain while nursing. This trapped milk then causes pain, swelling, and even infection. This often means the mother will have to stop breastfeeding so that tissue can reside. Occasionally, the milk can be successfully pumped. In any case, you should see your health care provider.

 

 

 

 

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.

Stress:
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.

Depression:
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.